U.S. v. Brown
To obtain severance of trials, a defendant must prove that prejudice from a joint trial will be so great that it will deprive the defendant of a fair trial. The government filed claims against 18 defendants, alleging that they were engaged in a drug conspiracy. One of the defendants, Rommell Brown, moved to sever his trial from that of the other defendants who belong to the Crips gang. Brown claimed that he is likely to suffer prejudice, unless he receives a separate trial, because he does not belong to the Crips gang. Brown claimed that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14 permits severance of trials, if a joint trial will prejudice a defendant. The government objected to the motion to sever. To obtain severance of trials, a defendant must establish prejudice from a joint trial will be so great that it will deprive the defendant of a fair trial. When ruling on a motion to sever, a court may consider: 1.) the number of defendants; 2.) the complexity of the indictment; 3.) the length of trial; 4.) the disparities of the defendants' involvement in the scheme; 5.) conflicts in various defense theories; and 6.) prejudice from evidence that is admissible as to some defendants and is not admissible as to others. Brown failed to persuade the court that severance is required to prevent prejudice. The court denied the motion to sever.