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United States v. Taylor

November 17, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
REJON TAYLOR



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Defendant Rejon Taylor's ("Defendant") "Motion to Prohibit the Introduction of Evidence of Defendant's Attempted Jail Escape" (Court File No. 194). Defendant filed a memorandum in support of the motion (Court File No. 195) and the government responded to the motion (Court File No. 235). For the reasons stated below, the Court will DENY Defendant's motion.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendant relies upon Fed. R. Evid. 401 and 403 in support of his argument. Fed. R. Evid. 401 defines "relevant evidence" as follows:

"'Relevant evidence' means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence."

Fed. R. Evid. 401. Relevance is an low hurdle to overcome. "[T]he test of relevance is very liberal and does not entail a determination of the sufficiency of the evidence." Douglass v. Eaton Corp., 956 F.2d 1339, 1345 (6th Cir. 1992). "Implicit in [the definition of relevancy] are two distinct requirements: (1) the evidence must be probative of the proposition it is offered to prove, and (2) the proposition to be proved must be one that is of consequence to the determination of the action."

United States v. Hall, 653 F.2d 1002, 1005 (5th Cir. 1981). All evidence that meets the definition of relevance is admissible unless prohibited by some authority. Fed. R. Evid. 402.

Even relevant evidence may be excluded pursuant to Rule 403. Rule 403 requires the exclusion of relevant evidence on grounds of prejudice, confusion or waste of time:

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Fed. R. Evid. 403. Rule 403 requires the trial court to engage in an exercise of balancing the probative value of the proffered evidence against its prejudicial effect. For this reason, the decision to admit or exclude evidence under Rule 403 is committed to the Court's sound discretion. "In weighing the probative value of evidence against the dangers and considerations enumerated in Rule 403, the general rule is that the balance should be struck in favor of admission." United States v. Dennis, 625 F.2d 782, 797 (8th Cir. 1980). "Courts have characterized Rule 403 as an extraordinary remedy to be used sparingly because it permits the trial court to exclude otherwise relevant evidence." United States v. Meester, 762 F.2d 867, 875 (11th Cir. 1985).

II. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Based upon representations made to the Court it is the understanding of the Court that the Government wishes to introduce the following evidence in its case-in-chief in the guilt/innocence phase of Defendant's trial, as well as at the sentencing phase, should the sentencing phase be necessary.

On April 14, 2006, Defendant and at least four (4) other inmates in the Hamilton County Jail assaulted and injured two (2) jailers and attempted to escape the facility.

The defendant and the other inmates*fn1 had planned this escape for four (4) to five (5) months previous to the actual attempt. The defendant and other inmates had crafted and hidden "shanks," pipes, and a rope made from sheets and towels to use during the escape, and the defendant had arranged for a vehicle to be waiting for the defendant and other inmates to use to facilitate their escape to a prepaid hotel room complete with changes of clothes for the escapees. (Court File No. 235, p. 1). The government states it has proof of this escape attempt "in the form of, among other things, testimony from some of the inmates who planned and attempted to execute the escape, recorded phone calls from the defendant related to the escape, physical evidence such as the 'shanks,' pipes, and ...


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