9 F.3d 155 (1st Cir. 1993), 93-1166, United States v. Nason

Docket Nº93-1166.
Citation9 F.3d 155
Party NameUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Michael NASON, Defendant-Appellant.
Case DateNovember 02, 1993
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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9 F.3d 155 (1st Cir. 1993)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Michael NASON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 93-1166.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

November 2, 1993

Heard Oct. 7, 1993.

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J. Michael McGuinness, by Appointment of the Court, with whom McGuinness & Parlagreco, Salem, MA, was on brief, for defendant-appellant.

Margaret D. McGaughey, Asst. U.S. Atty., Portland, ME, with whom Jay P. McCloskey, U.S. Atty., Bangor, ME, was on brief, for appellee.

Before TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge, BOWNES, Senior Circuit Judge, and CYR, Circuit Judge.

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Michael Nason was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(a)(1) & 846 and possession of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 844(a). Following a trial in the district court, the jury found him guilty as charged. Nason requests that this court reverse his conviction and remand his case for a new trial. On appeal, Nason argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for severance of his trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14; (2) this error deprived him of the ability to confront and cross-examine his codefendants in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights; (3) the trial court's instructions regarding conspiracy constituted reversible error; (4) the trial court erred regarding the admission of certain pieces of evidence seized; (5) the cumulative effect of the trial court's errors constituted prejudicial error depriving him of due process and a fair trial; and (6) the pursuit of appellant for the purpose of incriminating him violated his due process rights. Finding appellant's claims to be without merit, we affirm.


The government charged Michael Nason, Ellen Finch and David Finch with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. 1 In addition, the government alleged that Nason conspired to distribute marijuana with numerous other persons who were not indicted. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency ("MDEA") investigation that lead to Nason's conviction focused on Room 332 of the Scottish Inn Motel in Bangor, Maine.

Between May 23 and May 29, 1992, Room 332 was registered to Nason's girlfriend, Merry Lane. Shortly thereafter, a desk clerk added Nason's name to the registration card so that his calls could be directed to the room. Nason subsequently received telephone calls in Room 332 and supplies were delivered by the motel maid to him in Room 332. Many individuals visited Room 332, staying for only five to ten minutes, and a black Cadillac was observed in front of the room. The police were notified of this suspicious behavior.

When officers reviewed the motel's telephone records, they found that the occupants of Room 332 were calling the telephone numbers of known drug dealers. Officers then

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decided to establish surveillance of the motel room and Nason. As a part of the investigation, the government enlisted the assistance of drug trafficker Gabriel Zappia in exchange for a plea agreement. Zappia asked his friend, Gilbert Shubert, to arrange for the purchase of marijuana from Nason. In response to Shubert's request, Nason contacted a supplier in order to obtain the marijuana.

Nason arranged to sell Zappia the marijuana on May 27, 1992. Nason, Shubert and Zappia went to pick up the marijuana in Zappia's car. Because Nason suspected police surveillance, and Zappia feared that the police would not observe the transaction as previously planned, the two postponed the sale. During the interim, Shubert began to cooperate with the police.

Shubert and Nason met at the Ramada Inn on May 28 to complete the drug transaction. Nason told Shubert that he had "the dope" and that he would call his supplier who would deliver it. Nason said that if he had not been serious he would not have brought along white garbage bags. As they were leaving the Ramada Inn, the two men were arrested. At the time of arrest, Nason possessed two white garbage bags, a package of marijuana, and $980 in cash.

Nason had arrived at the Ramada Inn in a black Cadillac. After he got out of the Cadillac, the driver of the car drove to the Howard Johnson's nearby and parked facing the Ramada Inn. When Nason was arrested, the driver of the black Cadillac attempted to back out of the motel and ran into a police car. David and Ellen Finch were in the Cadillac. Both were arrested.

Nason had been at Room 332 on May 26 and again on May 28, shortly before his arrest. Inside the room, police found a suitcase containing a duffel bag with marijuana residue and a photo album with Nason's name on it. Other items found in the room included scales, two sandwich bags containing marijuana, empty sandwich bags, a programmable police scanner, and a cardboard box with Nason's name on it containing papers and photographs.


The decision to order severance of a trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14 is a matter within the discretion of the trial court. United States v. Sabatino, 943 F.2d 94, 96 (1st Cir.1991). We reverse the decision to deny a motion for severance only upon a showing of strong prejudice, demonstrating a manifest abuse of discretion that deprived the defendant of a fair trial. United States v. Argencourt, 996 F.2d 1300, 1304 (1st Cir.1993).

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(b), defendants may be tried together "if they 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." See Sabatino, 943 F.2d at 96 (quoting United States v. Sutherland, 929 F.2d 765, 778 (1st Cir.1991), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 83, 116 L.Ed.2d 56 (1991)). In this case, Nason, David Finch and Ellen Finch were alleged to have participated in the same acts constituting the offenses, hence, they were properly joined for trial. Where a defendant requests a severance to secure the testimony of a codefendant, he must comply with the requirements set forth in United States v. Drougas, 748 F.2d 8, 19 (1st Cir.1984):

the movant must demonstrate: (1) a bona fide need for the testimony; (2) the substance of the testimony; (3) its exculpatory nature and effect; and (4) that the co-defendant will in fact testify if the cases are severed....

Given such a showing, the court should (1) examine the significance of the...

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