Bodiford Law Note: This rule is known as the Bruton Rule, and protects the accused’s Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross examine witnesses and accusers. It pertains to situations where a co-defendant has given a statement about the defendant, but does not testify at the trial. At trial, the law enforcement officer taking the statement cannot say what the co-defendant said previously about the defendant – that is hearsay. Because the co-defendant has a Fifth Amendment right not to testify in a trial, there would be no way for the defendant to cross examine the co-defendant about the statement to the cop. This rule offers the process by which to rectify the problem. The rule forces the State of Florida to make a decision as to whether to have a single trial with no statements, or to have separate trials for each defendant with the hopes that the statements can be introduced as evidence.
Rule 3.152. Severance of Offenses and Defendants
(a) Severance of Offenses.
(1) In case 2 or more offenses are improperly charged in a single indictment or information, the defendant shall have a right to a severance of the charges on timely motion.
(2) In case 2 or more charges of related offenses are joined in a single indictment or information, the court nevertheless shall grant a severance of charges on motion of the state or of a defendant:
(A) before trial on a showing that the severance is appropriate to promote a fair determination of the defendant’s guilt or innocence of each offense; or
(B) during trial, only with defendant’s consent, on a showing that the severance is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the defendant’s guilt or innocence of each offense.
(b) Severance of Defendants.
(1) On motion of the state or a defendant, the court shall order a severance of defendants and separate trials:
(A) before trial, on a showing that the order is necessary to protect a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, or is appropriate to promote a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of 1 or more defendants; or
(B) during trial, only with defendant’s consent and on a showing that the order is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of 1 or more defendants.
(2) If a defendant moves for a severance of defendants on the ground that an oral or written statement of a codefendant makes reference to him or her but is not admissible against him or her, the court shall determine whether the state will offer evidence of the statement at the trial. If the state intends to offer the statement in evidence, the court shall order the state to submit its evidence of the statement for consideration by the court and counsel for defendants and if the court determines that the statement is not admissible against the moving defendant, it shall require the state to elect 1 of the following courses:
(A) a joint trial at which evidence of the statement will not be admitted;
(B) a joint trial at which evidence of the statement will be admitted after all references to the moving defendant have been deleted, provided the court determines that admission of the evidence with deletions will not prejudice the moving defendant; or
(C) severance of the moving defendant.
(3) In cases in which, at the close of the state’s case or at the close of all of the evidence, the evidence is not sufficient to support a finding that allegations on which the joinder of a defendant is based have been proved, the court shall, on motion of that defendant, grant a severance unless the court finds that severance is unnecessary to achieve a fair determination of that defendant’s guilt or innocence.