Robinson v. Callahan, 82-1457

Citation694 F.2d 6
Decision Date03 December 1982
Docket NumberNo. 82-1457,82-1457
PartiesGregory ROBINSON, Petitioner, Appellant, v. William CALLAHAN, Respondent, Appellee.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)

Willie J. Davis, Boston, Mass., for petitioner, appellant.

Linda G. Katz, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boston, Mass., with whom Francis X. Bellotti, Atty. Gen., Stephen R. Delinsky, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chief, Crim. Bureau, and Barbara A.H. Smith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chief, Crim. Appellate Div., Boston, Mass., were on brief, for respondent, appellee.

Before BOWNES, BROWN * and BREYER, Circuit Judges.

BAILEY BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge.

Appellant Gregory Robinson was convicted in a Massachusetts state court of murder in the first degree (felony-murder), armed robbery and assault by means of a dangerous weapon. The convictions were affirmed on appeal. Commonwealth v. Robinson, 382 Mass. 189, 415 N.E.2d 805 (1981). Robinson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and relief was denied. Robinson then brought this appeal. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

The facts are fully set out in the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (per Kaplan, J.). It is necessary here only to state that, as Robinson admitted at trial, Robinson and one Ronald Ellis robbed a Chinese restaurant in Boston in the course of which Ellis shot and killed one of the employees. Ellis pleaded guilty. Robinson's defense at trial was that, in participating in the robbery, he acted under duress exercised by Ellis.

Robinson first contends on this appeal that he was denied federal due process by the state trial court's instruction to the jury defining reasonable doubt. The court charged, inter alia, that reasonable doubt is "a doubt based on reason, a doubt for which you can give a reason." In Tsoumas et al. v. New Hampshire, 611 F.2d 412 (1st Cir.1980), this court held that such a charge is not constitutional error.

Robinson further contends that the state trial court committed constitutional error in the way in which it charged, in general, on burden of proof. As we read the charge, we agree with the statement of Justice Kaplan for the Supreme Judicial Court on direct appeal when he summarized as follows:

Although some isolated comments in the charge on the defendant's privilege to remain silent and on the role of defense counsel could not be thought ideal, they did not shift any burden to the defendant or undercut the statements placing the general burden firmly on the Commonwealth.

415 N.E.2d at 812.

Next, Robinson contends that he was denied due process in that the charge to the jury did not place the burden on the Commonwealth of proving absence of duress beyond a reasonable doubt but instead placed the burden on him to prove his defense.

In the well-reasoned opinion overruling this contention, the Supreme Judicial Court, after discussing such cases as Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 95 S.Ct. 1881, 44 L.Ed.2d 508 (1975) and Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S. 197, 97 S.Ct. 2319, 53 L.Ed.2d 281 (1977), assumed, without deciding, that as a matter of constitutional law the burden was on the Commonwealth of proving absence of duress beyond a reasonable doubt. 1 The court then, upon careful examination of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • Moore v. Ponte
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • May 10, 1996
    ...v. Noone, 913 F.2d 20, 29 (1st Cir. 1990) cert. denied, 500 U.S. 906, 111 S.Ct. 1686, 114 L.Ed.2d 81 (1991). But see Robinson v. Callahan, 694 F.2d 6, 7 (1st Cir.1982). The ultimate inquiry though, is not as to whether particular words or phrases were present in the instruction, but whether......
  • Com. v. Love
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • December 29, 1988
    ...bears the full burden. The constitutional validity of so casting the burden need not be considered here. See Robinson v. Callahan, 694 F.2d 6, 7 & n. 1 (1st Cir.1982) (this is Commonwealth v. Robinson, 382 Mass. 189, 415 N.E.2d 805, on habeas review), and Martin v. Ohio, 480 U.S. 228, 107 S......
  • Smith v. Bordenkircher
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • December 21, 1983
    ...(1st Cir.1972) ("proof beyond a doubt for which you can give a reason"), nor a ground for relief in habeas corpus, Robinson v. Callahan, 694 F.2d 6 (1st Cir.1982) ("a doubt for which you can give a reason"); Bumpus v. Gunter, 635 F.2d 907, 910 (1st Cir.1980) (a doubt "that you can stand up ......
  • Murphy v. Holland
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • October 28, 1985
    ...doubt must be based on a reason does not overstep the constitutional boundaries erected by the fifth amendment. Robinson v. Callahan, 694 F.2d 6 (1st Cir.1982) (instruction that reasonable doubt is "a doubt for which you can give a reason" is not constitutional error); United States v. Cruz......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT