United States District Court, E.D. California
KENDALL J. NEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the court is defendant's motion to sever
the counts for trial. (ECF No. 24.) The United States opposed
the motion, and defendant filed a reply brief. (ECF Nos. 25,
28.) At the April 12, 2017 hearing, the court also
entertained oral argument with respect to the motion.
Attorney Robert Artuz appeared on behalf of the United
States, and attorney Linda Allison and certified law student
Brittany Berzin appeared on behalf of defendant. After
carefully considering the court's record and the
applicable law, the court GRANTS the motion and schedules the
trials and pretrial deadlines as outlined below.
December 30, 2016, the United States filed a Superseding
Information containing nine counts of violations allegedly
committed by defendant: (1) possession of a controlled
substance, namely, marijuana in violation of 36 C.F.R. §
2.35(b)(2); (2) possession of drug paraphernalia, namely, a
methamphetamine pipe in violation of Cal. Health & Safety
Code § 11364(a); (3) failure to comply with traffic
control devices in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.12; (4)
failure to pay recreational fees in violation of 36 C.F.R.
§ 2.23(b); (5) violating closure and public use limits
in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 1.5(f); (6) failure to obey
posted signs in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.2 and Cal.
Veh. Code § 21461.5; (7) failure to notify DMV of
ownership transfer in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.2 and
Cal. Veh. Code § 5902; (8) possession of a controlled
substance: marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a);
and (9) possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine
in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). (ECF No. 22.)
8 and 9 arise from a March 13, 2015 traffic stop on Highway 3
in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. In the course of the
traffic stop and subsequent search, the officer allegedly
discovered marijuana and methamphetamine in defendant's
car. Counts 8 and 9 are Class A misdemeanors for which
defendant has a right to a jury trial.
1 through 7 arise from a March 8, 2016 incident where
defendant, accompanied by a female, allegedly entered an area
closed to the public in the Whiskeytown National Recreation
Area (approximately 70 miles away from the location of the
2015 incident), with defendant's vehicle allegedly parked
in front of the closed area. Defendant was ultimately
arrested based on a purportedly outstanding warrant; his car
was towed; and upon a search, marijuana and a methamphetamine
pipe were allegedly discovered in the car. Counts 1 through 7
are all Class B misdemeanors for which there is no right to a
case is presently set for trial on May 12, 2017. (ECF No.
23.) However, as noted above, defendant has filed a motion
pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 8 and 14 to
sever Counts 1-7 from Counts 8-9 for purposes of trial. (ECF
Rule of Criminal Procedure 8 provides, in part, that:
The indictment or information 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). In turn, Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 14 provides, in part, that:
If the joinder of offenses or defendants in an indictment, an
information, or a consolidation for trial appears to
prejudice a defendant or the government, the court may order
separate trials of counts, sever the defendants' trials,
or provide any other relief that justice requires.
Fed. R. Crim. P. 14(a).
court first analyzes whether the counts at issue were
properly joined pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 8, before considering whether any relief pursuant
to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14 is warranted.
of Joinder Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
Rule 14 is available as a remedy for prejudice that may
develop during the trial, Rule 8 has been broadly construed
in favor of initial joinder.” United States v.
Jawara, 474 F.3d 565, 573 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation and
quotation marks omitted); see also United States v.
Lane, 474 U.S. 438, 449 (1986) (recognizing that joint
trials conserve government funds, diminish inconvenience to
witnesses and public authorities, and avoid delays in
bringing those accused of a crime to trial).
“Nonetheless, the joinder decision warrants scrutiny,
and Rule 14 should not be viewed as a backstop or substitute
for the initial analysis required under Rule 8(a). At least
one of Rule 8(a)'s three conditions must be satisfied for
proper joinder, and those conditions, although phrased in
general terms, are not infinitely elastic.”