US v. Stephen Robinson

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UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 3:08-cr-00042-JPB-DJJ-1. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. [998460551] [09-4900]

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US v. Stephen Robinson Doc. 0 Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 1 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 09-4900 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. STEPHEN ROBINSON, a/k/a Lini, Defendant Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, at Martinsburg. John Preston Bailey, Chief District Judge. (3:08-cr-00042-JPB-DJJ-1) Submitted: September 29, 2010 Decided: November 5, 2010 Before KING, KEENAN, and WYNN, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Stephen D. Herndon, Wheeling, West Virginia, for Appellant. Betsy C. Jividen, Acting United States Attorney, Paul T. Camilletti, Assistant United States Attorney, Martinsburg, West Virginia, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. Dockets.Justia.com Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 2 PER CURIAM: Stephen Robinson appeals his conviction and sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 846, 841(b)(1)(B) (2006). On appeal, For the following reasons, we affirm. Robinson first argues that the district court violated his procedural due process rights by failing to hold a competency hearing prior to trial. can raise issues of both procedural and "Competency claims substantive due process." Beck v. Angelone, 261 F.3d 377, 387 (4th Cir. 2001). An allegation, such as Robinson's, that the district court erred by failing to order a Id. competency Congress hearing has is a a procedural statutory competency claim. enacted framework for addressing competency issues. 4241 et seq. Under 4241(a), a court See 18 U.S.C.A. shall order a competency hearing if it has "reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense." Id. In this case, Robinson moved for a competency hearing and a psychological evaluation the same day he made his initial appearance in court. During that 2 appearance in front of a Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 3 magistrate judge, Robinson refused to be represented by counsel and refused to answer the judge's questions. Thereafter, Robinson became "aggressive" and had to be restrained by the United States Marshals. district court found Pursuant to Rule 12.2(c)(1)(A), the cause to believe that the "reasonable defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent," and thus ordered that Robinson undergo a psychological evaluation to be followed by a competency hearing. The district court denied Robinson's motion as "moot" given its sua sponte order. Robinson received psychiatric evaluation at FCI Butner, which filed its report on May 26, 2009. concluded that Robinson suffered from no mental The report disease or defect and was competent to stand trial. The report further concluded that Robinson's behavior prompting the evaluation was the result of his views on the federal government and the justice system, not from any mental disease, and that Robinson's condition was not expected to deteriorate. Following receipt of the report, no competency hearing was held, and a jury trial was conducted. On claim appeal, the Robinson district his makes a procedural "fail[ure] competency competency to was hold put a in challenging hearing court's mental competency issue." after Burket v. Angelone, 208 F.3d 172, 192 (4th Cir. 2000). 3 Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 4 Robinson "ignored bears facts the burden a to show that the district regarding court [his] raising `bona Id. fide doubt' competency to stand trial." persuasive doubt evidence as to on the the "`Medical opinions are usually of whether a to sufficient require a question exists defendant's competence' competency hearing." United States v. General, 278 F.3d 389, 398 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting United States v. Mason, 52 F.3d 1286, 1290 (4th Cir. 1995)). Because Robinson relies solely on his pre-evaluation conduct in arguing that a hearing was necessary, we conclude that there was no "bona fide doubt" as to Robinson's competency to stand trial in light of the Butner Report. The Butner Report suggests that Robinson suffers from no mental disease or defect and that his court outburst was simply due to a belief system regarding justice in America. The Butner Report concluded Robinson was competent and there was no likelihood that he would become incompetent in the future. Moreover, Robinson's behavior Robinson during trial does not support a claim of incompetency. engaged with the district court as necessary during the trial, and at sentencing Robinson addressed the court in a respectful manner and provided a lengthy allocution prior to sentencing. In sum, given that the Butner Report found no evidence of a mental disease or defect and that no other of facts or circumstances support Robinson's 4 claim incompetency, Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 5 Robinson's violated. procedural right to a competency hearing was not Next, improperly Robinson's Robinson argues that of the district court admitted evidence Anthony statements After threatening his arrest, co-defendant, Jackson. Jackson pleaded guilty and agreed to testify on the Government's behalf against Robinson. Then, prior to trial, Jackson sent Robinson's counsel a letter claiming that he had no knowledge of any drug transactions or involving Robinson and and that any correspondence conversations between himself Robinson were not addressing drugs. Jackson's letter to The Government made reference to counsel during its opening Robinson's statement, and then, during its direct examination of Jackson, the Government moved to introduce three letters sent to Jackson. Jackson testified he viewed the letters as a threat to prevent him from testifying against Robinson. The Government does not dispute that the letters were sent not by Robinson but by some of Jackson's acquaintances in Florida to whom Jackson owed money. Robinson objected to their admission, contending that The Government contended that the letters were not relevant. the letters helped complete the story of why Jackson sent a letter The to Robinson's court counsel indicating the Robinson's and innocence. the district overruled objection admitted letters. 5 Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 6 We review a district court's evidentiary rulings for abuse of discretion, United States v. Delfino, 510 F.3d 468, 470 (4th Cir. 2007), and we will not "`vacate a conviction unless we find that the district court judge acted arbitrarily or irrationally' in admitting evidence," United States v. Benkahla, 530 F.3d 300, 309 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Ham, 998 F.2d 1247, 1252 (4th Cir. 1993)). Before the district court, Robinson argued that the threatening letters were not relevant under Federal Rule of Evidence 401. Rule 401 provides for the admission of relevant evidence, "evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Evid. 401. Fed. R. "[R]elevance typically presents a low barrier to United States v. Leftenant, 341 F.3d 338, 346 Thus, evidence is relevant if it is "worth United States admissibility." (4th Cir. 2003). consideration by the jury" or has a "plus value." v. Queen, 132 F.3d 991, 998 (4th Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Government argues that the letters are relevant impeachment evidence. Federal Rule of Evidence 607 provides that "[t]he credibility of a witness may be attacked by any party, including the party calling the witness." 607. Fed. R. Evid. Thus, although Jackson was the Government's witness, the 6 Case: 09-4900 Document: 32 Date Filed: 11/05/2010 Page: 7 Government Jackson was permitted Robinson's to impeach a him. Prior to trial, sent counsel letter substantially exonerating Robinson. The Government used the three threatening letters to complete the story behind that letter and impeach its evidentiary testified value -- the letters at threatened Cf. Jackson if he v. against Robinson trial. United States Stockton, 788 F.2d 210, 219 (4th Cir. 1986) (evidence of threats against a witness admissible to impeach that witness's inconsistent statements at trial). Because the Government was entitled to impeach Jackson, and because these letters do serve to impeach Jackson's letter exonerating Robinson, the letters were relevant and admissible. * Accordingly, we affirm the district court's judgment. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED We also reject Robinson's argument, made for the first time on appeal, that the letters should have been deemed inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 because their probative value was outweighed by the potential for prejudice. 7 *

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