345 F.2d 691 (7th Cir. 1965), 14253, United States ex rel. Robinson v. Pate

Docket Nº:14253.
Citation:345 F.2d 691
Party Name:UNITED STATES ex rel. Theodore ROBINSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Frank J. PATE, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:May 03, 1965
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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345 F.2d 691 (7th Cir. 1965)

UNITED STATES ex rel. Theodore ROBINSON, Petitioner-Appellant,


Frank J. PATE, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 14253.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

May 3, 1965

Theodore Robinson, John C. Tucker, Chicago, Ill., for appellant.

William G. Clark, Atty. Gen., of Illinois, Edward A. Berman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chicago, Ill., Richard A. Michael,

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Asst. Attys. Gen., of counsel, for appellee.

Before SCHNACKENBERG, KNOCH and KILEY, Circuit Judges.

KILEY, Circuit Judge.

The district court denied, without hearing evidence, Robinson's petition under the Habeas Corpus Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2241-2254, to vacate his state conviction for murder and his life sentence. He has appealed, represented by counsel appointed by this court. We reverse and remand.

The district court in denying the petition relied upon the record and transcript of the murder trial without a jury in the Criminal Court of Cook County in 1959, and the opinion of the Supreme Court of Illinois in People v. Robinson, 22 Ill.2d 162, 174 N.E.2d 820, cert. denied 368 U.S. 857, 82 S.Ct. 97, 7 L.Ed.2d 55 (1961).

Robinson's petition alleges that he was denied due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment at his bench trial by the State's failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt his sanity at the time of the alleged murder, by the trial court's failure to conduct on its own motion a hearing into his competence to stand trial, and by the court's denial of his Sixth Amendment right to compulsory process. 1

Robinson contends on this appeal that the district court erred in failing to require respondent to file a return to his petition, in refusing to appoint counsel for him, and in failing to hold an 'evidentiary hearing' in accordance with the rules in Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S.Ct. 745, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1962).

We recognize the severe pressure upon the state criminal trial courts to dispose of cases with dispatch in order to maintain a reasonable currency between indictment and trial. This salutary goal, however, must not be reached at the expense of constitutional rights. Robinson's trial was conducted under an undue preoccupation with hurried disposition in an atmosphere charged with haste, hardly consistent with the gravity of a capital case and protection of the right to due process. 2 One result of the unusual

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haste was denial to Robinson, an indigent represented by court-appointed counsel and obviously without funds to pay for expert psychiatric testimony, of a fair opportunity to obtain volunteer expert testimony from a public agency. We shall consider this result later in the opinion.

The conviction by a state court of a person for an alleged crime committed while insane violates due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. United States ex rel. Smith v. Baldi, 344 U.S. 561, 570, 73 S.Ct. 391, 97 L.Ed. 549 (1952) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting); People v. Robinson, 22 Ill.2d 162, 174 N.E.2d 820 (1961). And while the State must prove the sanity of the defendant at the time of the alleged crime, that burden is satisfied in Illinois by the presumption of sanity until the introduction of evidence sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt of the defendant's sanity, at which time the necessity of affirmative proof of sanity beyond a reasonable doubt becomes the burden of the State. People v. Skeoch, 408 Ill. 276, 280, 96 N.E.2d 473 (1951); People v. Patlak, 363 Ill. 40, 1 N.E.2d 228 (1936).

Robinson's defense to the indictment was insanity at the time of the alleged murder. He contends that he was insane at the time of the trial also, or that at least there was a bona fide doubt of his sanity raised so that the trial judge on his own motion should have impanelled a jury and conducted a sanity hearing pursuant to the then 38 Ill.Rev.Stat. §§ 592-593 (1963). 3

Robinson did not testify. The defense presented four relatives and friends as lay witnesses and the stipulated testimony of a police officer on the question of his sanity. Each witness stated his opinion that Robinson was insane and did not know the difference between right and wrong.

The testimony showed a continuing history of erratic and violent behavior by Robinson from the time he was struck on the head by a falling brick as a child until the unusual circumstances of the fatal shooting and his arrest. Incidents related included a commitment for a short time to a state mental hospital in 1951, from which he was released at his wife's request, the killing of his eighteen month old baby 4 and his contemporaneous attempted suicide, an attempt to burn his wife's clothes, and his mother's attempts to have him recommitted within a year before the alleged murder.

Robinson's behavior in the shooting and his subsequent arrest was also erratic. Flossie Mae Ward, the victim, a woman with whom Robinson had been living, worked at the restaurant where the shooting occurred. Robinson entered the restaurant carrying a gun which he pointed at Mrs. Ward, within a distance of five feet or less, without saying a word. Upon seeing him she said, 'Ted, don't start nothing tonight,' and went back to her work. Robinson then moved quickly to the back of the room, a distance of twenty feet or more, and jumped over the counter; as a result, two other employees were placed between him and Mrs. Ward. He rushed past them and fired one or more shots at the victim. Both Robinson and Mrs. Ward then jumped over the counter and ran out the door onto the sidewalk, where her body was found.

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The evening following the shooting, Robert Moore told the police that Robinson was at Moore's apartment. When officers in uniform arrived on the floor of the apartment, Robinson was standing in the hall near the elevator. The officers went by him, talked to Mr. and Mrs. Moore in Robinson's view, with guns drawn, and being informed that Robinson had just left, went back down the hall and asked Robinson to identify himself. He did. Robinson had remained where he was, even though he could have entered the elevator without passing the policemen while they talked to the Moores.

The shooting occurred, and the trial was held, in 1959. The State introduced the record of Robinson's discharge from a mental hospital in 1951, a stipulation of an adjudication in 1953 that he was sane, and a stipulation that the director of the court's Behavior Clinic would, if called, testify, on the basis of an examination two months before trial, that Robinson was able then to understand the charge against him and to cooperate with his counsel.

The morning of the second day of the trial the court was told by Robinson's attorney that they had hoped to have a doctor from the Psychiatric Institute testify that afternoon but had been unable to reach him. He said they were sure the doctor could be called the next morning, but the court, when no assurance was given that the doctor had been subpoenaed, refused to continue the case until the next morning in order to hear the doctor's testimony. 5 The trial concluded that afternoon without the doctor's testimony and without an expert witness called for or against Robinson.


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