United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. Crabtree United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on two Motions to Sever: one by
defendant Eduardo Garcia-Patino (Doc. 458) and one by
defendant Juan Carlos Quinonez-Leon (Doc. 459). Their motions
ask the court to sever the charges against each defendant for
separate trials and object to the continued trial date in
this case. The two defendants filed their motions about two
weeks before the court continued the trial date in this case,
on defendant Luis Alberto Quintero-Jimenez's Motion (Doc.
462), until October 22, 2019. See Doc. 481 at 2. For
reasons explained below, the court denies Mr. Garcia-Patino
and Mr. Quinonez-Leon's motions.
Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon both are charged, with 19
co-defendants, with a conspiracy to distribute and possess
with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of
methamphetamine. See Doc. 98 at 2-3. Also, the
government has charged Mr. Garcia-Patino with possessing with
intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
See Id. at 10. On March 21, 2019, the court held a
hearing on Mr. Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon's
Motions to Sever (Docs. 458 & 459), as well as Mr.
Quintero-Jimenez's Motion to Extend Motions Deadlines and
Trial Date (Doc. 462). See Doc. 481. After hearing
from counsel, the court found that the ends of justice served
by allowing the defendants the additional time requested
outweighed the best interest of the public and the defendants
in a speedy trial. Specifically, the court noted that Mr.
Quintero-Jimenez's appointed counsel had entered the case
on January 30, 2019, and thus needed more time to understand
and evaluate this complex case. And, the court concluded that
defendants will require time to assess the court's
rulings on any pretrial motions. The court thus granted Mr.
Quintero-Jimenez's motion and continued the trial date in
this case until October 22, 2019. During the hearing, the
court also excluded the time between March 21, 2019, and
October 22, 2019, from the speedy trial clocks for all but
two of the co-defendants. But, the court explained that this
excludable period does not apply automatically to Mr.
Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon, who have objected to the
continuance granted to their co-defendants. The court thus
addresses the reasonableness of applying this seven-month
excludable period to Mr. Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon
in this Order.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(b) allows the government to
charge two or more defendants in a single indictment if the
defendants “are alleged to have participated in the
same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or
transactions, constituting an offense or offenses.” The
Tenth Circuit “construe[s] Rule 8 broadly to allow
liberal joinder to enhance the efficiency of the judicial
system.” United States v. Johnson, 130 F.3d
1420, 1427 (10th Cir. 1997) (citing United States v.
Janus Indus., 48 F.3d 1548, 1557 (10th Cir. 1995)). But,
Rule 8(b)'s joinder guidelines are subject to the
limitations imposed by Rule 14(a), which provide, as relevant
here: “If the joinder of . . . defendants . . . in an
indictment . . . appears to prejudice a defendant . . . the
court may sever the defendants' trials.” Fed. R.
Crim. P. 14(a).
deciding a motion to sever, the court must weigh any
prejudice to the defendant “against the important
considerations of economy and expedition in judicial
administration.” United States v. Mabry, 809
F.2d 671, 681 (10th Cir. 1987), overruled on other
grounds by Mathews v. United States, 485 U.S. 58 (1988).
To carry the “‘heavy burden'” required
to prevail on a severance motion, a “‘defendant
must demonstrate actual prejudice [from the failure to
sever].'” United States v. Lopez, 100 F.3d
113, 119 (10th Cir. 1996) (quoting United States v.
Wacker, 72 F.3d 1453, 1468 (10th Cir. 1995)). And,
“Rule 14 leaves the determination of risk of prejudice
and any remedy for such prejudice to the sound
discretion” of district courts. United States v.
Rodriguez-Aguirre, 108 F.3d 1228, 1234 (10th Cir. 1997)
(citing Zafiro v. United States, 506 U.S. 534, 541
Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon make similar arguments in
their Motions to Sever. In the following sections, the court
identifies the governing authorities and applies them to both
Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon assert that the
government will offer evidence that is admissible against
their co-defendants only, and that the jury will be unable to
set aside that evidence when evaluating the specific charges
against Mr. Garcia-Patino and Mr. Quinonez-Leon. The court
discusses these arguments in the following three sections.
Governing case authority
Tenth Circuit explicitly has held that
“‘[n]either a mere allegation that [a] defendant
would have a better chance of acquittal in a separate trial,
nor a complaint of the “spillover effect” from
the evidence . . . against a co-defendant . . . is sufficient
to warrant severance.'” United States v.
Powell, 982 F.2d 1422, 1432 (10th Cir. 1992) (quoting
United States v. Hack, 782 F.2d 862, 870 (10th Cir.
1986)). And, “when sufficient evidence is presented to
connect the defendant to the conspiracy charged, his argument
that severance is required due to the overwhelming evidence
against co-defendants is without merit.” United
States v. Espinosa, 771 F.2d 1382, 1409 (10th Cir.
1985). But, in Zafiro, the Supreme Court has
recognized, “When many defendants are tried together in
a complex case and they have markedly different degrees of
culpability, [the] risk of prejudice is heightened.”
506 U.S. at 539. “The risk of prejudice will vary with
the facts in each case, and . . . [w]hen the risk of
prejudice is high, a district court is more likely to
determine that separate trials are necessary[.]”
Id. Ordinarily, though, less drastic measures such
as limiting instructions will cure the risk of prejudice.
See Id. And, generally, courts “‘presume
that juries follow [limiting] instructions.'”
United States v. Jones, 530 F.3d 1292, 1303 (10th
Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Lane, 883 F.2d
1484, 1498 (10th Cir. 1989)).
Tenth Circuit repeatedly has recognized that limiting
instructions usually suffice to mitigate the risk of
prejudice. See, e.g., Jones, 530 F.3d at
1303; United States v. Olsen, 519 F.3d 1096, 1103
(10th Cir. 2008) (concluding that a trial court's
limiting instruction and “repeated reminde[rs] [to]
both counsel and the jury” of the specific charge
against one defendant favored a finding that the defendant
was not unduly prejudiced by a joint trial); United
States v. Tucker, 502 Fed.Appx. 720, 724-25 (10th Cir.
2012) (“Rule 14 . . . leaves the tailoring of the
relief to be granted, if any, to the district court's
sound discretion . . . . And the district court here provided
such tailored relief in the form of limiting instructions,
which were ‘sufficient to cure potential
prejudice.'” (first quoting United States v.
Hardwell, 80 F.3d 1471, 1487 (10th Cir. 1996); then
citing Zafiro, 506 U.S. at 540-41)).
Do Mr. Garcia-Patino's evidentiary arguments ...