State v. Robison, 4127

Decision Date25 February 1980
Docket NumberNo. 4127,4127
Citation125 Ariz. 107,608 P.2d 44
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. James Albert ROBISON, Appellant.
CourtArizona Supreme Court

John A. LaSota, Jr., Former Atty. Gen., Robert K. Corbin, Atty. Gen. by William J. Schafer, III, and Galen H. Wilkes, Asst. Attys. Gen., Phoenix, for appellee.

Derickson, Kemper & Henze by James Hamilton Kemper, Phoenix, for appellant.

HOLOHAN, Vice Chief Justice.

The appellant James Robison, was tried and convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy. He was sentenced to a term of confinement on the conspiracy conviction and sentenced to death for the murder conviction. He appeals the convictions and sentences.

The facts in the case have been set out in some detail in his codefendant Max Dunlap's case. State v. Dunlap, 125 Ariz. 104, 608 P.2d 41 (1980). Only those facts will be set forth which are necessary for a full understanding of the legal issues discussed.

In his appeal the appellant has raised many legal issues, but a review of the matters presented discloses that there is no reversible error involved in most of them. We will, therefore, limit our discussion to the critical issue of the limitation of appellant's cross-examination of the state's principal witness.

The appellant maintains that his constitutional right to confront witnesses under the sixth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution was violated in the trial of this case by the limitation of his cross-examination of the state's chief witness.

The case against the appellant and his codefendant Max Dunlap was based primarily on the testimony of John Harvey Adamson. This witness had entered into a plea agreement with the state in which he admitted his participation in the conspiracy and murder of the victim, Don Bolles. Adamson, as part of his plea agreement, agreed to testify in the case against the others involved in the conspiracy and murder. From a review of the evidence it is clear that any conviction of the appellant and his codefendant depended upon the acceptance by the jury of the testimony of Adamson.

According to the direct testimony of Adamson he had been approached by Max Dunlap to arrange the murder of three individuals, one of whom was Don Bolles. Adamson testified that he had been promised money for the killing and that $2,000 had been advanced by Max Dunlap. Adamson contacted his friend, the appellant, to secure his participation in the plan to murder Bolles. Adamson described the events in the planning, execution and subsequent activities of the crime. Adamson described receiving some $6,000 from Max Dunlap after the crime. In substantially all instances related by Adamson there were no other witnesses to the conversations between him and the defendants. Corroboration of Adamson's testimony depended largely on circumstantial evidence.

After Adamson's direct testimony counsel for the defendants proceeded to cross-examine him at length. The appellant points out, and the record supports him, a number of instances in which cross-examination of Adamson was precluded by his claiming his fifth amendment privilege or the attorney-client privilege.

In State v. Dunlap, supra, we discussed the problem which occurs when a defendant's sixth amendment right comes in conflict with a witness' fifth amendment privilege. Both constitutional rights must be respected, but a witness' refusal to answer questions on cross-examination may require that the whole or part of the direct testimony of the witness be stricken. See also United States v. Cardillo, 316 F.2d 606 (2nd Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 375 U.S. 822, 84 S.Ct. 60, 11 L.Ed.2d 55; Fountain v. United States, 384 F.2d 624 (5th Cir. 1967), cert. den. sub nom., Marshall v. United States, 390 U.S. 1005, 88 S.Ct. 1246, 20 L.Ed.2d 105 (1968); United States v. Newman, 490 F.2d 139 (3rd Cir. 1974); United States v. Garrett, 542 F.2d 23 (6th Cir. 1976); United States v. Diecidue, 603 F.2d 535 (5th Cir. 1979); State v. Montanez, 215 Kan. 67, 523 P.2d 410 (1974).

In determining whether a witness' direct testimony should be subject to a motion to strike the ultimate inquiry is whether the defendant has been deprived of his right to test the truth of the direct testimony. This process often calls for drawing a distinction between the privilege being invoked as to "collateral" matters, in which instance striking the direct testimony is not required, and invoking the privilege as to "direct" matters, which does require a striking of the direct testimony in whole or part. While the distinction between "direct" and "collateral" testimony is often unclear, the test is whether the defendant's inability to cross-examine created a substantial danger of prejudice by depriving him of the ability to test the truth of the witness' direct testimony. Fountain v. United States, supra.

Separate consideration must be given to the several instances in which Adamson refused to answer questions on cross-examination to determine whether appellant's sixth amendment rights were violated.

Counsel for appellant asserts that the ability of the defense to effectively cross-examine Adamson was precluded when Adamson invoked his fifth amendment privilege to answering questions concerning the source of money in his possession a few weeks after the murder and whether he filed a 1976 tax return. Counsel for appellant moved to strike Adamson's testimony in whole or in part for his refusal to testify in the above matters.

The cross-examination of Adamson as to the source of money in his possession shortly after the murder was vital to the defense. It was particularly important to appellant's codefendant Dunlap, and that matter is discussed in State v. Dunlap, supra. It was also important to the appellant because the direct testimony of Adamson concerned only one source for the payment for the crime. Adamson had at all times maintained that Dunlap was the source of the funds paid for the bombing. Dunlap in turn had denied this allegation and maintained that he was not the source of funds but that other parties whom Adamson refused to name were actually the ones who had paid for the killing. Although the source of funds was much more...

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12 cases
  • State v. Adamson
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • April 11, 1983 Cause No. CR-96127. Robison's and Dunlap's convictions were reversed and remanded by this Court for new trials in State v. Robison, 125 Ariz. 107, 608 P.2d 44 (1980) and State v. Dunlap, 125 Ariz. 104, 608 P.2d 41 (1980). Adamson refused to testify at the retrials of Robison and Dunlap u......
  • Adamson v. Ricketts
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • December 22, 1988
    ...of Dunlap and Robison and remanded the cases for new trials. State v. Dunlap, 125 Ariz. 104, 608 P.2d 41 (1980); State v. Robison, 125 Ariz. 107, 608 P.2d 44 (1980). When the State sought to secure Adamson's testimony in the retrials, Adamson's lawyer responded with a letter to the State da......
  • State v. Dunlap
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • September 5, 1996
    ...Court reversed their convictions and remanded for new trials. State v. Dunlap, 125 Ariz. 104, 608 P.2d 41 (1980); State v. Robison, 125 Ariz. 107, 608 P.2d 44 (1980). Adamson refused to testify in the retrials of Dunlap and Robison and attempted to exact a more favorable plea agreement. The......
  • State v. Gretzler
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • April 21, 1980
    ...93 Ariz. 40, 44, 378 P.2d 487, 490 (1963). Accord, State v. Williams, 120 Ariz. 600, 587 P.2d 1177 (1978). See also State v. Robison, 125 Ariz. 107, 608 P.2d 44 (1980). We find no b. Did the trial court err in refusing a defense motion to continue after the jury was impaneled? On 22 October......
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