obvious as to relieve defendants of any liability under Kahn.” A17.
2. Trial proceedings. The circuit court made a number of decisions before and
during trial concerning the admissibility of evidence, which gave Choate broad latitude to
present evidence to the jury, while constricting defendants’ ability to do the same.
a. At his deposition, Choate admitted that he “recognized that on the day of the
accident[,]. . . that the train that [he was] grabbing onto was dangerous.” Tr. 1762; D.
Choate Dep. 127-28 (A29). He also repeatedly admitted that he jumped onto the train to
impress his girlfriend. D. Choate Dep. 196, 205-06 (A31-32). Before trial, defendants
sought to bar any attempt by Choate to qualify, deny, or explain away his admission that
he recognized moving trains to be dangerous. Tr. 110. The court denied the motion based
on its view that the word “dangerous” was equivocal. Moreover, it limited defendants to
using Choate’s deposition testimony for impeachment purposes. Thus, defendants were
precluded from reading Choate’s admissions into the record as substantive evidence. Tr.
116, 263, 2244.
Conversely, over defendants’ objection, the court allowed Choate to elicit
testimony from school psychologist Dr. Richard Lencki that Choate scored in the low
average to average range on an intelligence test. Tr. 1479-80. The court believed that this
testimony was relevant to “whether [Choate] could appreciate the danger” given his
“intellect.” Tr. 2237. Choate’s opening and closing arguments played up this point and
minimized his capacity for appreciating the danger, despite his admission that he in fact
appreciated it. Tr. 693, 2449.
b. The court also prevented defendants from eliciting testimony from Choate’s
companions—who were similar in age and experience to Choate—that they understood