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United States v. Jones - 880 F.2d 55 (8th Cir. 1989)


Fed. R. Crim. P. 8 provides: (a) Joinder of Offenses. Two or more offenses may be charged in the same indictment or information in a separate count for each offense if the offenses charged, whether felonies or misdemeanors or both, are of the same or similar character or are based on the same act or transaction or on two or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or plan. (b) Joinder of Defendants. Two or more defendants may be charged in the same indictment or information 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. Such defendants may be charged in one or more counts together or separately and all of the defendants need not be charged in each count. 


Five defendants were charged with drug-related offenses in a six-count indictment. Richard L. Jones, Toni V. Palazzolo, and Paul H. Jones were charged with distributing and aiding the distribution of cocaine. J.W. Philyaw, Michael J. Palazzolo, Toni Palazzolo, and Richard and Paul Jones were charged with conspiring to possess and distribute marijuana and/or cocaine. J.W. Philyaw, Michael Palazzolo, and Richard Jones were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Michael Palazzolo was charged in Count V with being a felon in possession of a firearm. And J.W. Philyaw was charged with traveling in interstate commerce with intent to distribute cocaine. After a jury trial, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri convicted all 5 defendants. Defendants appealed.


Were the convictions proper?




The federal appellate court affirmed the convictions. The court considered various issues raised by various defendants. The court held that: 1) Admission of a prior conviction of one defendant was not prejudicial to the others, because the jury was properly instructed that the conviction was only to be considered with regard to the gun possession charge against that defendant; 2) Alleged prejudicial prior bad acts evidence was not that at all, but evidence of the charged conspiracy; 3) One defendant's constitutional right to testify was not violated when the district court refused to reopen the evidence to allow him to testify; 4) Joinder of the firearms charge with the drug charges was proper under Fed. R. Crim. P. 8(b), because such was an overt act of the conspiracy; 5) The district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to sever the charges, because evidence of each charge would have been admissible in a trial of the other and the jury was not confused over which evidence related to which count; 6) Joinder of defendants was proper under 8(b) and Fed. R. Crim. P. 14, even though not every defendant was charged in every count and they attempted to shift culpability to one another.

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