United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
LAMON K. GRIGGS PLAINTIFF
CHICKASAW COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI DEFENDANT
SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Griggs filed the instant lawsuit alleging that he was
terminated in violation of his First Amendment rights.
Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motion in
Limine  and Plaintiff's Cross Motion in Limine .
The Court finds as follows.
Motion in Limine
moves the Court to bar certain evidence, including
out-of-court statements allegedly made by individual
Chickasaw County Supervisors, out-of-court statements made by
James Meyers, and Plaintiff's own typed narrative of the
the out-of-court statements made by individual Chickasaw
County Supervisors, Plaintiff alleges that Supervisor
McFarland asked if he was going to withdraw from the
Sheriff's race, and told him that other supervisors were
“after him.” Supervisor Brooks purportedly asked
Plaintiff if he knew what the Hatch Act was during his
termination meeting. Supervisor King purportedly told
Plaintiff, “these dang politics are something
else.” Defendant argues that these statements
constitute hearsay, and should be excluded under Federal Rule
of Evidence 801(c).
Federal Rules of Evidence bar statements that the declarant
does not make while testifying at the current proceeding
which are offered into evidence to prove the truth of the
matter asserted. Fed.R.Evid. 801(c). However, certain
statements are excepted from the Rule against hearsay, and
certain statements are not considered hearsay under the
Federal Rules at all.
example, a “statement by [a] party's agent or
servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or
employment, made during the existence of the relationship,
” is deemed an admission by a party opponent and is
excluded from the hearsay definition. Fed.R.Evid.
argues that the statements by the Supervisors do not
constitute hearsay, because they are opposing party
statements made by the party's agent on a matter within
the scope of that relationship, pursuant to 801(d)(2)(D).
McFarland, Brooks, and King, as Supervisors, clearly were
agents of Chickasaw County. Moreover, the record establishes
that these Supervisors participated in the vote that
initiated Plaintiff's termination. The purported
statements regarding whether Plaintiff should abandon his
campaign thus concern a matter within the scope of the
Supervisor's agency made during the existence of the
relationship. The Supervisor's purported statements will
therefore not be excluded as non-hearsay party admissions
under Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2)(D).
Plaintiff argues that Meyers' statements are not hearsay
because they equally constitute admissions by party
opponents. Meyers was not yet the Sheriff of Chickasaw County
when he told Plaintiff that anyone who ran against him would
be terminated as soon as he was elected. Therefore, Defendant
argues that his statements do not fall under the 801(d)(2)(D)
exclusion, because he cannot be said to have been an agent of
the Board at the time the statements were made. However,
Plaintiff has sued the County, not merely the Board. Though
Meyers, as Deputy and as eventual Sheriff, may not have been
an agent of the Board, he acted as an agent of the County for
the very narrow purposes of the party opponent hearsay
exclusion. See Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(A)
(Statements are not hearsay when “made by the party in
an individual or representative capacity”).
Indeed, Meyers often acted in the place of the Sheriff,
including being present during the Board meeting wherein
Plaintiff was terminated. See Miss. Code Ann. §
19-25-13 (Sheriffs must file budgets and reports with the
county board of supervisors which are then reviewable by the
state Auditor); See also United States v. Harris,
No. CIVA5:07CR1-DCB-LRA, 2007 WL 2028948, at *4 (S.D.Miss.
July 11, 2007), aff'd, 296 F. App'x 402 (5th
Cir. 2008) (“It would be unreasonable to suggest that a
Sheriff is not a county officer or agent”) (citing
United States v. Marmolego, 89 F.3d 1185 (5th Cir.
1996). Additionally, when he became Sheriff, Plaintiff was
terminated, possibly for the very reason Meyers stated
previously. Accordingly, Meyers' purported statements are
likewise admissible as non-hearsay party admissions under
801(d)(2)(D), and will not be excluded. Fed.R.Evid.
801(d)(2)(D). Defendant's Motion to exclude testimony
concerning Meyers' and other Board of Supervisors'
statements is DENIED.
Defendant seeks to bar Plaintiff's narrative, including
his own typewritten notes as to the events leading up to his
termination. Plaintiff concedes that this narrative is
hearsay, and states that he will not attempt to admit it at
trial. Therefore, Defendant's motion regarding the
narrative is GRANTED.
Motion in Limine
moves the Court to exclude testimony concerning
Plaintiff's victorious suit against Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., including the amount of the judgment, and the fact that
Jim Waide represented Plaintiff in that litigation. Defendant
responded with no objection. Therefore, Plaintiff's
motion is GRANTED.
Motion in Limine  is DENIED IN ...