Posts tagged "Robinson"

Commonwealth v. Robinson (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-087-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11907   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  PAUL ROBINSON.     May 25, 2017.     Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts. Practice, Criminal, Capital case.     Along with a codefendant, Paul Robinson was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree and two counts of assault with intent to rob in 1969.  After plenary review, this court affirmed the convictions.  Commonwealth v. McGrath, 358 Mass. 314 (1970), S.C., 408 Mass. 245 (1990) and 437 Mass. 1002, cert. denied, 537 U.S. 980 (2002).  Robinson has since filed several motions for a new trial, all of which have been denied.  After the denial of his most recent (seventh) such motion, Robinson sought leave to appeal pursuant to the gatekeeper provision of G. L. c. 278, § 33E.  A single justice of this court concluded that the motion failed to present a “new and substantial question” and therefore denied such leave.  Robinson filed a notice of appeal to the full court from the single justice’s ruling, and the Commonwealth moved to dismiss.  Robinson asserted in opposition that his appeal ought to be permitted to proceed despite the longstanding rule that the decision of the gatekeeper is “final and unreviewable.”  E.g., Commonwealth v. Vinnie, 475 Mass. 1011, 1011 (2016), and cases cited.  We gave Robinson an opportunity to explain the basis for his position in a preliminary statement of no more than five pages.  Robinson has responded with an eleven-page statement of issues, in which he argues essentially that the gatekeeper process leads to arbitrary results and, more particularly, that his appeal was not allowed to proceed whereas other defendants’ appeals were.[1]  This is merely a recasting of the equal protection challenge we rejected in Napolitano v. Attorney Gen., 432 Mass. 240, 241-242 (2000).  We reject it again here.  Robinson received plenary review of his convictions under § 33E on direct appeal, and he has offered no reason to suppose that his seventh motion for a new trial raised any new and substantial issue that was not or could not have been presented in any of the previous six.  There is no hint of arbitrariness in this case.  He also has not offered any reason to believe that the “single justice erred by denying [his] gatekeeper petition on procedural grounds.”  Commonwealth v. Nassar, 454 Mass. 1008, 1009 n.2 (2009).  Finally, we reject Robinson’s argument […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 25, 2017 at 5:09 pm

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Commonwealth v. Robinson (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-001-17)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. 0084CR10975 ____________________ COMMONWEALTH v. JASON ROBINSON ____________________ FINDINGS OF FACT, RULINGS OF LAW, AND ORDER ALLOWING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL Defendant Jason Robinson was convicted of first degree murder in 2002. He now moves for a new trial on the grounds that: (i) his constitutional right to a public trial was violated because the court was closed during jury empanelment; (ii) there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction for felony-murder; (iii) newly discovered evidence suggests that the Commonwealth’s main witness did not testify truthfully; (iv) the Commonwealth withheld potentially exculpatory evidence; and (v) it is unconstitutional to sentence Robinson to life in prison with no possibility of parole because he was nineteen years old when the victim was killed and his brain was not yet fully developed. The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing regarding Robinson’s public trial claims and has scheduled a further evidentiary hearing regarding his claims about adolescent brain development. The Court concludes that it must ALLOW Robinson’s motion for a new trial and vacate his convictions for murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. As explained below, the Court finds that Robinson was denied his constitutional right to a public trial because the public was barred from the courtroom throughout the jury selection process. It also finds that Robinson did not acquiesce in this courtroom closure or waive his public trial right in any other way: neither Robinson nor his lawyer knew that the public was not allowed to observe the jury voir dire; defense counsel was not aware of any general practice of barring the public from jury selection; and this is Robinson’s first motion for a new trial and the first post-verdict opportunity Robinson has had to raise this claim of error. There is no merit to the Commonwealth’s assertion that any failure to object at trial to a courtroom closure waives the error, even if the defendant and his counsel did not know and had no reason to suspect that it was happening. The Court is therefore required – 2 – by law to vacate Robinson’s convictions and order a new trial without inquiring whether Robinson has demonstrated that the unlawful courtroom closure created any substantial risk or likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. 1. Procedural History. The dockets for this case and the transcripts from the trial of this matter indicate the following.1 Jason Robinson and codefendant Tanzerious Anderson were tried together in 2002. Robinson was indicted on one charge of murder in the first degree, two charges of armed robbery, and one charge of unlawful possession of a firearm. The case was tried before Judge Barbara Rouse. Trial of this case took […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 6, 2017 at 10:15 pm

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Commonwealth v. Robinson (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-043-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us       11‑P‑1817                                       Appeals Court   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JAMES E. ROBINSON.     No. 11‑P‑1817. Plymouth.     December 5, 2012.  ‑  March 13, 2013. Present:  Kafker, Milkey, & Agnes, JJ.   Resisting Arrest.  Controlled Substances.  Practice, Criminal, Costs, Waiver, Instructions to jury, Motion to suppress.  Search and Seizure, Container.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Brockton Division of the District Court Department on September 17, 2007.   A pretrial motion for funds was considered by James F.X. Dinneen, J.; a pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by David G. Nagle, J.; and the case was tried before Julie J. Bernard, J.     Merritt Schnipper for the defendant. Carolyn A. Burbine, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     MILKEY, J.  Following a jury trial in District Court, the defendant was convicted of resisting arrest, G. L. c. 268, § 32B, and possession of a class D substance (marijuana) with intent to distribute, G. L. c. 94C, § 32C.[1]  On appeal, he challenges the resisting arrest conviction based on the denial of his motion for funds to try to identify eyewitnesses to his arrest.  Although the defendant was eventually granted such funds prior to trial, he argues that this did not cure the initial error.  We conclude that the defendant did not preserve the issue and that he cannot demonstrate a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice on the current record.  Because we find no merit in an alternative argument that the defendant makes, we affirm his conviction of resisting arrest.  With regard to the defendant’s contention that the judge erred in denying his motion to suppress (the only claim he raises as to his drug conviction), the defendant waived the specific argument he now presses on appeal, and we, in any event, are unpersuaded by it.  We therefore affirm that conviction as well.   1.  The defendant’s request for funds.  a.  Background.  Following a traffic stop in Brockton, the State police arrested the driver of a minivan for driving with a suspended license.  The defendant was seated in the rear seat of the vehicle, and there were at least two other passengers in the vehicle as well.  For reasons discussed in further detail below, Trooper Brian Galvin ordered the defendant from the vehicle.  In conducting a patfrisk of him, the troopers discovered a “fanny pack” stuffed down the front of the […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm

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