Thursday, December 15, 2016
Judge Agrees To Sever Cadden, Chin Trials
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Calling it a rare case in which antagonistic defenses requires a separation, a federal judge has ruled that the two main defendants in the criminal case stemming from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak will have separate back-to-back trials.
In a three-page decision issued today U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns ordered that Barry Cadden will go on trial beginning Jan. 4 on 25 counts of second degree murder, while Glenn Chin, who is facing the same charges, will face trial immediately afterwards.
The severance request by Cadden's lawyer, Bruce A. Singal, was filed under seal, but a subsequent court hearing and filings that were never sealed make it clear that Cadden plans to blame Chin for the 2012 outbreak which killed 77 patients across the country.
"The motion to sever is allowed, albeit reluctantly," Stearns wrote, adding that his decision would mean there will be three separate trials stemming from the 2014 indictment. Cadden, Chin and the other defendants were employees or part owners of the New England Compounding Center, the Framingham, Mass. company blamed for the outbreak.
"This is one of the rare cases in which antagonistic defenses coupled with an imbalance of evidence, require the severance of the trials of Barry Cadden and codefendant Glenn Chin," Stearns wrote noting that "as a rule severance is not favored when two defendants are charged together with the same crimes."
Cadden, then a licensed pharmacist, was an officer and part-owner of NECC, while Chin was a supervising pharmacist.
Stearns said his concerns over the conflicting defense strategies was heightened "by the prejudicial effect of the introduction of causation evidence related to the often agonizing deaths" of the 25 deceased victims.
"The defense strategy convinces me that there is a serious risk that a joint trial would compromise a specific trial right of one of the defendants or prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence," Stearns concluded.
In addition to Cadden and Chin, eight other defendants are scheduled to go on trial in early April. Two others already pleaded guilty to reduced charges while two defendants had charges dismissed.