LOCATION: Middle District Court of Tennessee
DOCKET NO.: 86-937
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
CITATION: 485 US 25 (1988)
ARGUED: Nov 03, 1987
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1988
Carolou Perry Durham - on behalf of the Respondent
Lawrence S. Robbins - on behalf of the Petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for United States v. RobinsonAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 03, 1987 in United States v. Robinson
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 24, 1988 in United States v. Robinson
William H. Rehnquist:
And the second case No. 86-937, United States against Robinsons.
Respondent, Thomas Robinson was charged with mail fraud involving arson-related insurance claims.
He did not testify a trial.
In his closing argument to the jury, his lawyer charged that the government had not allowed him to explain his side of the story.
Following this closing and out of the presence of a jury, the prosecution objected to the remarks of the defense counsel, and contended of the defendants had opened the door to comment on the defendant's failure to take the stand.
The District Court agreed and the defense offered no objection.
In his rebuttal submission, the prosecution stated that the defendant's assertion that the government had not allowed him to explain was unacceptable.
The prosecution noted that the defendant could have taken the witness stand and explained his actions to the jury.
The jury convicted the defendant.
The Court of Appeals of the Sixth Circuit reversed the convictions concluding that the prosecution's comments had deprived the defendant of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
We intern, reverse the Court of Appeals.
As explained in an opinion filed today, we conclude that in a light of a remarks of the defense counsel, the prosecution's comment did not transgress the bound of the Fifth Amendment.
The defense counsel basically opened the door for the matter and serious requires that the government would be allowed to respond.
Justice Blackmun has filed on opinion concurring in part in dissenting in part; Justice Marshall has filed the dissenting opinion in which Justice Brennan has joined.
Justice Kennedy took no part.