Both the plaintiff and defendants’ sides in former Associate Dean Nicole Eramo’s lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Wenner Media, Inc., are making final preparations in anticipation of the trial set to begin Oct. 16. These preparations include finalizing witness and exhibit lists and issuing jury instructions from both sides.
In the process of preparing evidence to bring to the trial, both sides have filed motions in limine, or attempts to prevent the other side from using certain evidence in the courtroom.
So far, U.S. District Court Judge Glen Conrad has ruled to exclude a “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” episode from the trial, an exhibit originally proposed by Eramo’s lawyers. The ruling stems from the Columbia Journalism School not considering the episode in its review of the “A Rape on Campus” article.
“In that initial report, Jackie claimed that she had been coerced into giving oral sex but refused to disclose any other details about her gang rape including where it allegedly happened,” Eramo’s lawyers said in court documents. “Thereafter, however, Jackie’s story morphed into one strikingly similar to the one in the ‘Law & Order: SVU’ episode, as Jackie claimed that she was vaginally gang raped at a fraternity.”
Other exhibits Eramo will use at the trial include press coverage from the Washington Post and The Cavalier Daily regarding the Rolling Stone piece, texts and emails exchanged among Jackie, Jackie’s friends, Eramo, Erdely and other members of University administration as well as various tweets which went out after the article was written.
“Plaintiff reserves the right to introduce any exhibits identified on Defendant’s exhibit list, to introduce each exhibit in either or both of the liability and damages phases of the trial and to amend this exhibit list and add any other exhibit(s) that may become necessary based upon Court rulings on pending motions and evidentiary issues at trial and for impeachment or other purposes,” Eramo’s lawyers said in court documents.
Eramo’s lawyers also finalized her list of witnesses, but amended it to exclude Kathryn Hendley, Jackie’s friend, as a live witness. Her lawyers cited Hendley’s residence in the country of Georgia as a reason for her to not make it as a live witness.
“It has come to Plaintiff’s attention that this witness no longer resides in Virginia and instead now resides outside of the United States in Tbilisi, Georgia,” court documents read. “Therefore, Plaintiff intends to present Kathryn Hendley’s testimony by deposition designation.”
Also in the business of finalizing Eramo’s witness list, Rolling Stone’s attorneys filed a motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Kant Lin, one of Eramo’s treating physicians. They claimed Eramo’s inclusion of Lin as a witness does not follow basic procedures of court by not allowing the defendants to find their own expert witness in time for the trial.
“The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — as well as this Court’s scheduling orders — provide time for the opposing party to locate and retain a rebuttal trial expert. None of these procedures and safeguards are possible given Plaintiff’s failure to timely and properly disclose Dr. Lin as an expert witness,” Rolling Stone’s lawyers said in court documents.
Rolling Stone’s lawyers also filed their list of witnesses, which includes Eramo, Erdely and members of University administration such as Dean of Students Allen Groves and University Police Chief Michael Gibson.
“Defendants also reserve the right to read additional testimony or show videotaped deposition testimony into the record for purposes of impeachment of a witness,” Rolling Stone’s lawyers said in court documents.
Both the plaintiff and the defendants submitted proposed jury instructions, with Rolling Stone’s proposed document amounting to 114 pages and Eramo’s 43-page proposed document.
The proposed instructions from both sides provide background to civil lawsuit proceedings and emphasize jurors’ duties to provide fair judgments on the case.
“Each of you must make your own conscientious decision, but only after you have considered all the evidence, discussed it fully with fellow jurors and listened to the views of your fellow jurors,” Eramo’s lawyers said in their proposed instructions.
Eramo’s attorney Libby Locke did not respond for comment, and Rolling Stone, Erdely and Wenner Media Inc.’s attorney W. David Paxton declined to comment.