United States v. Robinson

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: District Court for the District Court of Columbia

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 361 US 220 (1960)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1959
DECIDED: Jan 11, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Robinson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1959 in United States v. Robinson

Earl Warren:

Number 16, the United States, Petitioner, versus Troyit Robinson, et al.

Ms. Rosenburg.

Beatrice Rosenberg:

May it -- May it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the District of Columbia Circuit and presents the question of the interpretation of the Rules of Criminal Procedure with respect to the timeliness of an appeal in a criminal case.

The pertinent facts are very simple.

Rule 37 (a) provides that an appeal in a criminal case may be taken within 10 days after sentence or denial of a motion for a new trial.

In this case, 26 days after sentence, the respondent noted an appeal and petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

The District Court did grant the leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

In the Court of Appeals, the Government moved to dismiss the appeal on the ground that it was untimely under Rule 37.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that under 45 (c) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure while a District Court could not enlarge at the time for Appeal within the 10-day period, it could, after the expiration of the 10-day period, allow an untimely appeal on the showing of excusable neglect.

And it said that if the District Court, by granting permission to appeal in forma pauperis, intended to find excusable neglect, if the Court of Appeals would have jurisdiction of the appeal.

The District Court did find excusable neglect and that question here is, whether there was power to allow an untimely appeal after the 10-day period 65 Rule 37.

Now, before turning to the legal considerations that governs this, I want to point out that the only question here is what the rule did provide.

There is not doubt that the rule makers could have allowed an appeal for an excusable neglect and we have no question here of whether they should have done so, in other words whether the policy was good or bad.

The only question is what did they do?

This is the first time in the 13 years or so the rules had been in existence that any Court has had -- had held that they did make provision for an untimely appeal.

In fact, that every other Circuit in the country has held to the contrary and so, the question is, as I have said simply did they do this.

It seems to us like every test of legislative rule making intention that we have, language, background, history, it is perfectly clear not only that the rule makers did not make provision for an untimely appeal, but that they very deliberately decided not to.

Is there no other trick in showing the contrary that the District Court (Inaudible)

Beatrice Rosenberg:


Not that I know of.

I think this is the only decision that has come up that way.

I don't believe that it has been considered a question for the District Court.

That is -- I don't think they've asked -- the District Court has ever thought it had power to allow an untimely appeal.

Motions have usually been made in the Court of Appeals on motion to dismiss the appeal.

I think that --


Beatrice Rosenberg:

Yes, it may have.

I just don't know there is a decision, Your Honor.

Well, let's turn to these theories, considerations by which we judge the intention of the rule makers and the first is the language itself.