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Name: People v. Conerly
Case #: A121696
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/31/2009

The prosecutor’s “package deal” was proper, as was the denial of a severance motion in order to allow one defendant to proceed to trial. Conerly was tried together with Palms for the sale of cocaine. Prior to trial, the prosecutor offered both defendants a package plea bargain where they would both plead guilty in exchange for three-year sentences. Palms was willing, but Conerly was not. Conerly then moved to sever the cases on the basis that Palms had offered to testify that Conerly was not involved in the cocaine sale. Palms’ attorney stated that Palms would not testify and risk subjecting himself to a 17-year sentence, and would only testify if he was guaranteed three years. The court required both defendants to accept the plea bargain and denied Conerly’s motion to sever. Conerly argued that the trial court abused its discretion by endorsing the prosecution’s package offer and in not granting the severance motion. The appellate court rejected the argument. Package deals are proper if they are not coercive. Palms could either take the deal or be tried with Conerly. He was unwilling to testify under both situations. A package deal operates to insure that one defendant doesn’t plead guilty and then testify for the other and manipulate the system. Likewise, it was inappropriate to allow the codefendants to manipulate the order of their trials for the same reasons, and the severance motion was properly denied.