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United States v. Robinson

February 14, 1964

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CLIFFORD MELVIN ROBINSON, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Author: Knoch

Before HASTINGS, Chief Judge, and DUFFY and KNOCH, Circuit Judges.

KNOCH, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-appellant, Clifford Melvin Robinson, Jr., was tried on two criminal informations, consolidated for trial, indictment having been waived, which charged him with robbery of a federally insured bank, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. ยง 2113(a), (b) and (d). The defense was insanity. Trial by jury resulted in verdicts of guilty. The defendant was sentenced to serve three years on each count, concurrently.

Defendant contends that the government failed to sustain its burden of proving him sane beyond a reasonable doubt. He characterizes as error (1) admitting his statement into evidence, and (2) permitting cross-examination of him concerning "trouble" he encountered from alcoholic beverages while serving with the United States Air Force.

It is agreed that in the afternoon of March 5, 1962, defendant came into Table Grove State Bank, at Table Grove, Illinois, and asked for a loan, first from Douglas Baily, and then from the Cashier, Quinton Donald Baily, to whom Douglas Baily directed him. The defendant then presented a revolver with hammer cocked, directed that money be placed in a bag and given to him. Cashier Baily put the money in a regular blue canvas bag, which bore the bank's name.Defendant took it and left.

Dean R. Payne, a customer of the bank who saw the incident, testified that he and F. W. Johnson, a bank employee, both went into another room, climbed up to a high window, six feet from the floor, from which they saw the defendant's station wagon. They were thus able to call out a description of the vehicle and its license number to Cashier Baily who called the Fulton County Sheriff's office at Lewistown and passed on the information about the vehicle. State Troopers who had received the description by radio recognized the vehicle, followed it, and arrested the defendant. He was brought back to the bank in about fifteen to twenty minutes after leaving it with the money. He still had the bank's bag with the money in his possession. He was accompanied by a woman at the time of his arrest.

There were two trials. At the first trial in July 1962, after the close of the government's evidence, and after defendant had presented evidence in part, the Trial Court was advised that the defendant was mentally incompetent to stand trial because he was unable to advise with his counsel properly and to assist in his own defense. The Court allowed a mistrial, and granted leave to file the affidavits of defendant's counsel and of Dr. Emasue Snow.

The Trial Judge later appointed Dr. Snow to conduct an examination of defendant and to report on whether he was insane or otherwise so mentally incompetent as to be unable to understand the proceedings against him or properly to assist in his own defense.

As a result of a hearing and the report of Dr. Snow, the Court committed defendant to the custody of the Attorney General and recommended commitment to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners at Springfield, Missouri, on August 31, 1962.

Under date of November 28, 1962, the Medical Center reported that defendant possessed the requisite capacity, and a second trial was held which resulted in the conviction mentioned above.

Defendant's mother, Verna M. Spaulding, testified respecting traumatic incidents experienced by defendant as a child as the result of the continued brutality of his father. At the age of 12, after his parents had been divorced, defendant had shot and seriously wounded his father to protect his mother from his father's violence. Mrs. Spaulding stated that her son's childhood and youth were marked by fear. She testified to his disturbed condition on his return home after discharge from military service.

Defendant himself testified that in 1955, after a successful military career, during which he rose to Staff Sergeant, and later to Technical Sergeant, defendant began to experience nervousness, fatigue, and sleeplessness, but that examinations at the dispensary disclosed no physical abnormality. In 1957, while on electronic retraining duty, defendant consulted a service psychiatrist several times and further treatment was recommended. In 1958, while he was in Germany, he suffered serious stomach difficulties which were treated with sedatives, tranquilizers and diet. This continued in 1959. He was depressed and felt frustrated both in his work and in his personal relations. That year also included an unusual experience in that he had taken a gun to bed with him on one occasion with the intention of committing suicide. He stated that this frightened him and he sought treatment. He was admitted to the post hospital at Wurtzberg, Germany, for two short periods of treatment.

There were incidents of "trouble" related to drinking and a court-martial, and later a reduction from Technical to Staff Sergeant. He was discharged from the Air Force in October, 1961, under honorable conditions, after 16 or 17 years of service. Prior to his discharge he was examined and treated in Army facilities at Seattle, Spokane, and Larson Air Force base, in Washington State. He described emotional problems with his family. He had a prior marriage which ended in divorce. His second wife and children had left him in February 1962. At this time he began to drink alcoholic beverages to a greater extent than before to relieve the tension he felt. He thought about suicide frequently. He stated that there were gaps in his memory. He said that he had been trying to work as a Fuller Brush man, but was vague in his recollection of it. He remembered meeting a girl in a bar in Moline and something about an apartment. He could account for spending about $400 after meeting the girl. He knew that he had acquired a revolver. He remembered standing on the street looking at the place where he intended to get it for purposes of suicide, but he did not remember going in and buying it. That was the day he met his mother, March 3, 1962. She testified that he looked very ill that day.He did not remember the robbery, but did remember being in the jail afterward and remembered having told various persons about things which took place during the preceding period of time.

Mr. Baily had seen defendant and a girl pass by the bank, about fifteen minutes before the robbery. The operator of a Table Grove tavern testified that defendant and a girl had come in, ordered a beer, and had a conversation with her for about 15 minutes. She did not believe him to be intoxicated. Mr. Baily didn't describe defendant as intoxicated, but Mr. Payne said ...


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