United States District Court, C.D. California
MICHAEL CERNYAR, GEORGINA WAKEFIELD, DFPD, JILL GINSTLING, DFPD, Attorneys for Defendants.
CRIMINAL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.
Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS): DEFENDANT SHARILYN K. ANDERSON'S MOTION TO SEVER (Dkt. No. 77, filed August 18, 2014)
GOVERNMENT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO ADMIT FED. R. EVID. 404(b) EVIDENCE (Dkt. No. 115, filed September 15, 2014)
GOVERNMENT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE CERTAIN CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS OF GOVERNMENT WITNESSES (Dkt. No. 137, filed October 6, 2014)
On August 22, 2013, a federal grand jury charged defendant Sharilyn K. Anderson and her son, co-defendant Joshua Davis, with sex-trafficking a minor, Victim 1, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1), (a)(2), and sex-trafficking an adult, Victim 2, by coercion, fraud, or threats of force, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1), (a)(2). Dkt. No. 12. Davis is also charged with coercing or enticing a minor to engage in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), transporting a minor for prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), and transporting a minor for illicit sexual conduct and for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(d). Id.
On September 26, 2014, the government filed a First Superseding Indictment. Dkt. No. 132. The superseding indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to sex traffic a minor (Victim 1) and an adult (Victim 2)-the latter by force and coercion-in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1594(c). Id . It further charges Davis with four substantive counts of sex trafficking Victim 1 and Victim 2, in violation of 18. U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1), and one count of transporting Victim 1 in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). Finally, it charges Anderson with aiding and abetting Davis in the sex trafficking of Victim 1 and Victim 2, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1), (a)(2). Id . A trial in this matter is currently set for March 10, 2015.
II. MOTION TO SEVER
On August 18, 2014, Anderson filed a motion to sever Counts 1 and 2. Dkt. No. 77. On September 2, 2014, the government filed an opposition. Dkt. No. 96. Anderson replied on September 8, 2014. Dkt. No. 104. On September 15, 2014, the Court held a hearing on the matter, but reserved ruling on the motion to sever because the government indicated that it planned to file a superseding indictment. See Dkt. No. 123. As indicated above, the government filed a First Superseding Indictment on September 26, 2014. The Court held a hearing on this and other motions on January 26, 2015.
Anderson argues that the charges against her relating to the two victims should be tried separately for two reasons. First, she argues that the counts were improperly joined. Second, she argues that even if the counts were properly joined, they should be severed to avoid undue prejudice to Anderson. For the reasons that follow, the Court does not find severance appropriate at this juncture.
A. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a)
An indictment "may charge a defendant in separate counts with 2 or more offenses if the offenses charged-whether felonies or misdemeanors or both-are of the same or similar character, or are based on the same act or transaction, or are connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan." Fed. R. Crim. P. 8(a). "Rule 8 has been broadly construed in favor of initial joinder." United States v. Jawara, 474 F.3d 565, 573 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v. Friedman, 445 F.2d 1076, 1082 (9th Cir. 1971)); see United States v. Portac, Inc., 869 F.2d 1288, 1294 (1989) ("The rule is to be construed broadly in favor of joinder."); United States v. Armstrong, 621 F.2d 951, 954 (9th Cir. 1980) ("[J]oinder is the rule rather than the exception.").
In briefing submitted before the filing of the superseding indictment, the government argued that joinder was justified under the "same or similar character" and "common scheme or plan" prongs of Rule 8(a). Under either test, the reasons for joinder must be "readily apparent on the face of the indictment or... reasonably inferred from the allegations of the indictment." See Jawara, 474 F.3d at 574, 576. Anderson argued that the "common scheme or plan" prong was ...