SEP 14, 1984
JAMES F. DAVEY, Clerk
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ELLEN BENJAMIN, a/k/a Ellen Thomas
ROBERT A. DORROUGH
DAVID B. MANNING
ANTHONY J. NELSON
Defendants Ellen B. Thomas, Concepcion Picciotto, David Manning, William Thomas and Anthony Nelson request this Court to sever their respective cases from that of their co-defendants. Each of the defendants claims that his or her defense is conflicting and irreconcilable with that of the co-defendants, and that the government's evidence differs significantly as it affects each of the defendants.
The decision whether to sever defendants lies within the discretion of the Court. United States v. Kim, 595 F.2d 755 (D.C. Cir. 1979). When considering a motion to sever the Court must carefully balance the degree of judicial efficiency and expedition that joinder offers against the danger that the overlapping of proof will confuse the fact finder and prejudice certain of the defendants.
In this case it is clear that the balance rests in favor of joinder. The charges against each of the defendants arises out of the same series of events. The government has indicated that a substantial part of the property seized may be jointly owned by several of the defendants. All of the witnesses who are likely to be called against each defendant will most probably be used to testify against the others about the same events. Judicial efficiency, therefore, argues strongly in favor of joinder. The danger of prejudice, on the other hand, is relatively small. The fact finder in this instance is the Court. Evidence will be presented directly to the Court, and the possibility of confusion that is present in a jury trial will not exist here.
Nothing in the defendants' motion to sever indicates that the respective defenses are irreconcilable. Notwithstanding the defendants' contentions, the differing nature of the evidence each defendant must confront does not pose a significant danger of prejudice in a joint bench trial.
Accordingly, it is this 14th day of September 1984, hereby
ORDERED that the motions to sever are denied.
/s/JOYCE HENS GREEN
United States District Judge