United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court are the defendant's Motion to Sever [ECF
No. 89] and the defendant's Motion Reserving Right to
File More Motions [ECF No. 90]. The government responded, and
the defendant did not reply. The matter is ripe for
adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to
Sever [ECF No. 89] is DENIED, and the Motion Reserving Right
to File Further Motions [ECF No. 90] is DENIED as moot.
indictment in this case charges the defendant, Quinton Funk,
with three separate offenses. Indictment 1-2, 10-11 [ECF No.
18]. Count One charges the defendant with conspiracy to
distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
846, and Counts Nine and Ten charge the defendant with being
a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Id. The defendant
has moved under Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure to sever Count One from Counts Nine and Ten and to
schedule two separate trials. Mot. Sever 1-2.
Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a court
may sever counts of an indictment if joinder of the offenses
“appears to prejudice a defendant or the
government.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 14(a). “A defendant
making a motion for severance pursuant to Rule 14 has the
burden of demonstrating a strong showing of prejudice.”
United States v. Goldman, 750 F.2d 1221, 1225 (4th
Cir. 1984). For offenses properly joined under Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Fourth Circuit has
identified three sources of prejudice for severance under
(1) the jury may confuse and cumulate the evidence, and
convict the defendant of one or both crimes when it would not
convict him of either if it could keep the evidence properly
segregated; (2) the defendant may be confounded in presenting
defenses, as where he desires to assert his privilege against
self-incrimination with respect to one crime but not the
other; or (3) the jury may conclude that the defendant is
guilty of one crime and then find him guilty of the other
because of his criminal disposition.
United States v. Foutz, 540 F.2d 733, 736 (4th Cir.
1976). However, “[i]t is not enough for the defendant
to show that severance offers him ‘a better chance of
acquittal, '” United States v. Cardwe
l, 433 F.3d 378, 387 (4th Cir. 2005)
(quoting United States v. Reavis, 48 F.3d 763, 767
(4th Cir. 1995)). “[A] district court should grant a
severance under Rule 14 only if there is a serious
risk that a joint trial would . . . prevent the jury from
making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence.”
Id. (quoting Zafiro v. United States, 506
U.S. 534, 539 (1993)).
Motion to Sever [ECF No. 89], the defendant argues that
evidence of his prior conviction, as a necessary element to
prove the charges in Counts Nine and Ten of the indictment,
will “prejudice the jury into convicting the defendant
because [the jury] [will] believe [that] he is of bad
character and needs punishment, rather than . . . [that he is
guilty] of the charged offense.” Mot. Sever 2. However,
the Fourth Circuit has stated that “[a]ny prejudicial
effect of the necessary introduction of the defendant's
past conviction [in connection with a firearms charge under
18 U.S.C. § 922] can . . . be avoided through the use of
a limiting instruction.” United States v.
Silva, 745 F.2d 840, 844 (4th Cir. 1984). Moreover,
there is no “serious risk that a joint trial would . .
. prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about
guilt or innocence” in this case. Cardwel, 433
F.3d at 387. Therefore, I FIND the defendant has not met his
burden of showing prejudice. A limiting instruction is
sufficient to protect against any prejudice to the defendant.
Accordingly, the court ORDERS that the Motion to Sever [ECF
No. 89] is DENIED.
“[r]equiring two trials, one for a charge which
requires little more than proof of possession and the
existence of the prior record, and one for the underlying
criminal charge, would be unnecessarily redundant.”
Id. Severance would lead to an “unnecessarily
redundant” second trial and a waste of judicial
defendant's Motion Reserving Right to File Further
Motions [ECF No. 90], the defendant attempts to
“reserve the right to make further motions in this
case” because the defendant lacks the “ability to
foresee all pretrial matters.” Mot. Res. Right to File
Further Mots. 1. The Motion [ECF No. 90] does not request any
relief and therefore is DENIED as moot.
reasons stated above, the defendant's Motion to Sever
[ECF No. 89] is DENIED, and Motion Reserving the Right to