940 F.2d 1136 (8th Cir. 1991), 90-5232, United States v. Willis

Docket Nº:90-5232.
Citation:940 F.2d 1136
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Kim Allen WILLIS, Appellant.
Case Date:July 23, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1136

940 F.2d 1136 (8th Cir. 1991)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Kim Allen WILLIS, Appellant.

No. 90-5232.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 23, 1991

Submitted Feb. 13, 1991.

Rehearing and Rehearing en banc Denied Sept. 11, 1991.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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John R. Wylde, Minneapolis, Minn., for appellant.

Jon M. Hopeman, argued (Jerome G. Arnold, Jon M. Hopeman and Denise Reilly, on brief), Minneapolis, Minn., for appellee.

Before FAGG and BEAM, Circuit Judges, and HEANEY, Senior Circuit Judge.

HEANEY, Senior Circuit Judge.

Kim Allen Willis and five others were tried on a thirty-two count indictment charging narcotics and firearms violations in connection with an alleged cocaine distribution conspiracy. Willis was charged with and convicted of two counts of the indictment. Count 2 charged Willis with aiding and abetting the attempted possession of twenty kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute and Count 32 charged him with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine from 1984 to 1989. He was sentenced to 188 months on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. Willis contends on appeal that the trial court erred in joining his trial with that of Ralph ("Plukey") Duke, the convicted leader of the conspiracy, and several others; in enhancing his offense level by two levels for obstruction of justice; and in denying him a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. We affirm.

I. Joinder

Willis argues that he should not have been tried with Duke and those who distributed drugs for Duke because the evidence against Duke and his distributors was complex and pervasive, and much of it involved conduct which did not pertain to Willis. Willis claims that evidence of the scope, magnitude, and duration of Duke's cocaine enterprise made it impossible for Willis, as a minor participant in the drug scene, to receive a fair trial in a proceeding in which Duke and his distributors were joined. Willis also contends that any involvement he had with Duke was part of a conspiracy separate from the one with which Duke and his distributors were charged.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure permit the joinder of defendants when "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." Fed.R.Crim.P. 8(b). The district court may grant a severance where it appears that joinder would prejudice the defendant. Fed.R.Crim.P. 14. The potential for prejudice depends primarily on the jury's ability to compartmentalize the evidence against each defendant. Judgments regarding the nature of the evidence and the jury's ability to compartmentalize it are committed to the...

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