In a previous post (here) I promised to review several of the interesting pre-trial defense motions in the case of Illinois attorney Gary Peel who is charged with bankruptcy bribery and possessing child pornography. One such motion was Peel's motion to sever the charges on the ground that a joint trial on all of the charges would unduly prejudice his right to a fair trial. At first blush, the case would seem to be a classic one for severance inasmuch as the pornography counts do not seem to be the same as or similar to the obstruction and bankruptcy crime charges. However, Peel is charged with bankruptcy bribery, obstruction of justice and possession of child pornography in a case in which he allegedly offered to trade sexually explicit photos of his ex-wife's underage sister to his ex-wife if she would drop her objection to the dischargeability of Peel's financial obligations to her as a result of divorce proceedings.
In a written decision (available here), Judge Stiehl denied the motion for severance, holding that the allegations of the indictment satisfy Rule 8 (Fed.R.Crim.P.) because "they arise out of a series of related transactions, all tied to the charged conduct." "Put simply," he wrote, "the bankruptcy fraud and obstruction charges are so inextricably intertwined with the defendant's alleged use of, and possession of, child pornography that without this evidence being admitted, the allegations of fraud and obstruction would have neither context nor foundation."