Wagner v. County of Maricopa

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 03-07-2012
  • Case #: 10-15501
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Noonan for the Court; Senior District Judge Block; Dissent by Circuit Judge N. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

The Court reviews evidentiary rulings and allows out of court statements where they are introduced to show the declarant's state of mind.

Police stopped Vogel and arrested him. Vogel, suffering from disorientation, paranoia, and psychosis, was placed under a psychiatric hold and was forced to change into prison attire, including pink underwear. When Vogel refused, police forcibly restrained him and changed his clothing. During this encounter, Vogel "shouted that he was being raped." Shortly after he was released on bail, Vogel "was told that there was a warrant for his arrest for spitting on an officer during the dress-out, so he might be returned to jail." Vogel reacted by running "four or five miles." He died of acute cardiac arrhythmia and his estate brought suit. The trial court excluded, as hearsay, testimony by Vogel's sister and mother about several of Vogel's statements and denied the plaintiff rebuttal at the close of trial. Plaintiff here appeals from a jury verdict in favor of the defense. The testimony at issue consists of Vogel's statements to his family describing his experiences during the dress-out. The Ninth Circuit declares those statements admissible because they were offered not to prove the truth--parties agree no rape actually occurred--but to show Vogel's state of mind. The Court also finds that expert opinion supporting plaintiff's causation assertions was improperly excluded, as was reference to the pink underwear. Further, the denial of rebuttal opportunity was improper because parties were not "advised prior to the argument." REVERSED AND REMANDED for new trial.

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