United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. Brimmer Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion in
Limine to Limit Scope of Expert Testimony [Docket No. 84].
requests that the Court prohibit Task Force Officer
(“TFO”) Craig Tangeman from testifying in general
terms regarding the culture of pimping and prostitution.
Docket No. 84 at 1. Defendant argues that such generalized
“culture” testimony is insufficiently tied to the
facts of this case and would not assist the jury in resolving
the facts at issue. Id. The government responds that
the culture testimony it intends to introduce is relevant to
the issue of whether the defendant is a pimp. Docket No. 89
Rule of Evidence 702 provides that “[a] witness who is
qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience,
training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion
. . . if . . . the expert's scientific, technical, or
other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in
issue.” The government lists four categories of
“culture” evidence to which TFO Tangeman is
expected to testify: the types of pimps; the emphasis on a
victim's loyalty in pimping and prostitution culture; the
use of gifts, promises, fraud, and money to bond with and
obtain control over a victim; and the ways in which pimps
exploit weaknesses in their victims. Docket No. 89 at
The government argues that such evidence will assist the jury
in determining whether the defendant is a pimp and is
therefore admissible under Fed.R.Evid. 702. The Court agrees.
other courts have found, “testimony on pimping patterns
and the pimp-prostitution relationship [may] shed light on
critical issues in [a] case.” United States v.
Anderson, 851 F.2d 384, 393 (D.C. Cir. 1988). In
Anderson, the court concluded that such testimony
was relevant to the issue of “whether the appellant was
in fact a pimp or rather, as [the appellant claimed], merely
a gambler with a flashy lifestyle and a penchant for
travel.” Id. Other courts have reached similar
conclusions as to the relevance of testimony bearing on
whether a defendant was a pimp. See, e.g.,
United States v. Geddes, 844 F.3d 983, 991 (8th Cir.
2017) (district court did not abuse its discretion in sex
trafficking case by admitting expert testimony regarding the
operation of prostitution rings, including the recruitment of
prostitutes and the relationship between pimps and
prostitutes); United States v. Brinson, 772 F.3d
1314, 1319 (10th Cir. 2014) (district court acted within its
discretion in finding that expert testimony of detective
regarding “the relationship between pimps and their
prostitutes” and the ways in which pimps recruit and
control prostitutes would have helped the jury); United
States v. Taylor, 239 F.3d 994, 998 (9th Cir. 2001)
(“A trier of fact who is in the dark about [the
pimp-prostitute] relationship may be unprepared to assess the
veracity of an alleged pimp, prostitute, or other witness
testifying about prostitution.”); see also United
States v. King, 703 F.Supp.2d 1063, 1074 (D. Haw. 2010)
(collecting cases permitting introduction of expert testimony
regarding “defendants' modus operandi in [various]
types of criminal operations” and noting that
“[s]uch testimony helps the jury to understand complex
criminal activities, and alerts it to the possibility that
combinations of seemingly innocuous events may indicate
criminal behavior” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
the government is relying primarily on the defendant's
communications with TFO Tangeman to show that the defendant
was attempting to engage the victim in prostitution. As the
government argues, each of the categories of evidence
identified above is specifically related to the
defendant's efforts. See Docket No. 89 at 2
(noting that the defendant “made promises, bought
‘Nikki' a bus ticket, made fraudulent statements,
and attempted to exploit her weaknesses”). Such
testimony is likely to assist the jury in determining whether
the defendant's communications with TFO Tangeman reflect
behaviors characteristic of a pimp.
cases defendant cites do not compel a different conclusion.
In both cases, the government failed to establish any
connection between the proffered “culture”
testimony and the facts at issue. In United States v.
Delgado, 677 Fed.Appx. 84 (3d Cir. 2017) (unpublished),
for example, the court expressly noted that the government
was “not contend[ing] that the proffered
testimony [went] to any element of the charged
offenses.” Id. at 85. The government sought to
admit the expert testimony on the culture of sex trafficking
for the sole purposes of “de-mystify[ing the]
subculture” and providing “education and
context” for the jury. Id. Similarly, in
United States v. Abdush-Shakur, 465 F.3d 458 (10th
Cir. 2006), the court held that expert testimony regarding
the “culture of violence” in federal
penitentiaries would not assist the trier of fact where the
testimony would not have “negate[d] any of the elements
of the charged crime.” Id. at 466-67.
contrast to both Delgado and Abdush-Shakur,
the proffered testimony in this case is directly relevant to
the jury's determination of whether the defendant was
attempting to solicit his victim for prostitution. The
defendant's motion in limine will therefore be denied.
that Defendant's Motion in Limine to Limit Scope of
Expert Testimony [Docket No. 84] is DENIED.
The government states that it will not
elicit testimony regarding the boyfriend/girlfriend
relationship or the use of violence because such testimony
would not be relevant to ...