365 F.2d 679 (8th Cir. 1966), 18251, Hodgdon v. United States

Docket Nº:18251.
Citation:365 F.2d 679
Party Name:Robert Donald HODGDON, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:September 12, 1966
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 679

365 F.2d 679 (8th Cir. 1966)

Robert Donald HODGDON, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 18251.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

Sept. 12, 1966

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Douglas Hall, of Hall, Smith, Hedlund, Juster, Forsberg & Feikema, Minneapolis, Minn., for appellant.

Patrick J. Foley, Asst. U.S. Atty., Minneapolis, Minn., for appellee; Hartley Nordin, N.S. Atty., Minneapolis, Minn., on the brief.

Before VOGEL, Chief Judge, MEHAFFY, Circuit Judge, and McMANUS, District Judge.

McMANUS, District Judge.

This is an appeal in forma pauperis from a jury conviction in the United States District Court, District of Minnesota, on both counts of a two-count indictment. Count I charged the appellant with endeavoring by threats and force to intimidate a United States Commissioner in violation of 18 U.S.C.A.§ 1503. Count II charged appellant with forcibly assaulting a United States deputy marshal while engaged in the performance of his official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 111. Appellant was sentenced to serve two years on Count I and eight years on Count II, the terms to run consecutively.

Appellant's grounds for appeal are as follows:

I. That the trial court erred in overruling appellant's motions to dismiss the indictment.

(a) for lack of jurisdiction

(b) for insufficiency of Count II, in that the marshal was attempting to arrest appellant on the basis of an invalid warrant when the assault occurred, and was therefore not engaged in the performance of his official duties within 18 U.S.C.A. § 111.

II. That there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction under Count I of the indictment.

III. That the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota was biased against appellant and therefore unable to afford him a fair trial.

IV. That appellant's right to a speedy trial under the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution was violated.

V. That appellant was wrongfully prevented from adequately preparing his defense because his bail, in the sum of $50,000.00, was excessive, and because he did not have access to certain legal materials during his confinement.

VI. That certain exhibits from the files of the Minnesota Mental Hospital, Moose Lake, Minnesota, offered to show efforts by the defendant to learn of and protect his rights during his confinement there in 1962, were erroneously excluded.

We affirm.

The facts are as follows:

Appellant was committed to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, Springfield, Missouri, for psychiatric observation on May 18, 1965, by order of Chief Judge Edward J. Devitt of the District of Minnesota. The staff there determined that although appellant is a chronic schizophrenic, he could be returned to the court 'with an adjudication of competency.' It was found that he was able to understand the charges against him, to assist in his defense, and to cooperate with counsel. There is thus no question of his mental competency in these proceedings. Appellant's background, however, is relevant in describing the events which led to his conviction and subsequent appeal.

Appellant is a thirty-two year old male who has had mental difficulties most of his adult life. In june 1956, he was taken by request of his parents to Rochester, Minnesota for mental examination. A court hearing was held and he was committed to the Minnesota Mental Hospital at Moose Lake. He was released provisionally in October 1956, and thereafter was returned to the hospital four times for varying periods before his final discharge on September 21, 1963.

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While on provisional release in 1962, appellant initiated a series of associations with various lawyers and public officials in connection with what he thought were certain unlawful actions by governmental agencies. These he referred to generally as 'misprison of treason.' He believed that his constitutional rights had been violated in his original commitment and subsequent returns to Moose Lake, and in medical treatment which he underwent during his confinement. Appellant views himself as a staunch defender of the individual liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. He believes that those who are not in accord with his interpretations of the Constitution are guilty of treason. He often made attempts to initiate proceedings against the governments of the United States and Minnesota and their agents to obtain what he called a 'redress of grievances.' He made frequent visits to federal offices in Minneapolis and became well acquainted with many federal officials. He also began to carry firearms because he feared his life might be endangered on account of his activities on behalf of the Constitution.

Starting in approximately November 1964, appellant began consulting United States Commissioner Bernard Zimpfer. He appeared at Mr. Zimpfer's office from time to time to discuss his rights and the administration of justice in general. In March 1965, appellant attended a Commissioner's hearing involving one Louis Alvin Thomas, who was charged with failure to pay a firearm tax on a sawed-off shotgun which had been found in his possession. Appellant believed the tax in question was an infringement on the peoples' constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and so informed the Commissioner after the hearing was concluded. Sometime after the hearing appellant called both Zimpfer and his law partner, expressing his displeasure with the Commissioner's handling of the Thomas matter. He informed the Commissioner that the charge against Thomas should have been summarily dismissed. Zimpfer testified that he was alarmed by the antagonistic tone of appellant's voice during this call.

Late in the afternoon of April 21, 1965, appellant appeared at Commissioner Zimpfer's office in Minneapolis. The two men had a private conversation, the nature of which is in dispute. Appellant first discussed several violations of constitutional rights which he alleged had been committed by the city police, the sheriff's office, United States Marshals, city, state, and federal courts, and...

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