Pate v. Robinson

LOCATION: Belknap County Recreation Area

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 383 US 375 (1966)
ARGUED: Jan 26, 1966
DECIDED: Mar 07, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Pate v. Robinson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 26, 1966 in Pate v. Robinson

Earl Warren:

Number 382, Frank J. Pate, Warden, petitioner versus Theodore Robinson.

Mr. Michael.

Richard A. Michael:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is a habeas corpus petition.

The respondent brought a petition for writ of habeas corpus to United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

He contended that his confinement pursuant to his life sentence for murder of Flossie May Ward resulted in non-constitutional confinement.

The District Court after a study of the record of his trial in the state court dismissed the petition.

The respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

That court in a two to one decision reversed the decision of the District Court and remanded the petition for writ of habeas corpus for a hearing in the District Court on two issues.

First, whether the respondent was insane at the time of the crime and secondly, whether the trial judge had denied the respondent due process by his failure on its own motion to impanel insanity jury to determine the question of the respondent's sanity at the time of trial.

The issues presented to this Court --

Potter Stewart:

In Illinois, this is for a matter of information, is it always the jury which makes the determination of whether or not a defendant is insane at the time of trial?

Richard A. Michael:

At the time of trial Your Honor?

Potter Stewart:


Richard A. Michael:


If the question is raised, it is the duty to impanel a jury to make that determination.

Potter Stewart:

I suppose the prosecution if the question is raised could -- could say yes, he is, and then there would be no issue.

Richard A. Michael:

That would be, I assume so, Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

But if -- but if -- if the matter has put an issue, that's for a jury to determine is it under the Illinois practice?

Richard A. Michael:

Yes, Your Honor.

The question for this jury -- for this Court to determine then whether the question of the sanity of the -- of a person or the accused at the time of the crime is cognizable in a federal habeas corpus taken from a state conviction.

And secondly, whether with respect to the question of sanity at the time of trial, this was waived by the respondent's failure to raise that issue in the trial court or if not whether the record on its face does not affirmatively show that he was not denied due process by the failure of the trial court on its own motion to impanel a sanity jury.

Finally, there is the issue submitted by this Court for consideration whether if either or both of the hearing specified in the order of the Court of Appeals should be held -- that should be held in the state or in the federal court.

The record before the District Court in the determination of the -- of these issues was the transcript of the respondent's trial in the state court.

That transcript shows that the respondent was tried by Daniel -- by Judge Daniel Gazelli of the Criminal Court of Cook County.

He waived trial by jury and submitted himself to a bench trial.

The state introduced evidence which showed that the victim, Flossie May Ward and the respondent, were living together in a common-law status.

The victim worked at Collins Barbeque House in the south side of Chicago.

There, the respondent would frequently go for his meals and to pick her up when she was through working for the day.

She worked the shift from about 10 in the evening to about five in the morning.