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11/09/72 United States of America v. Philip Smallwood

November 9, 1972






Bazelon, Chief Judge, and Robinson and Robb, Circuit Judges. Bazelon, Chief Judge, concurring.


Appellant was convicted by a jury of armed robbery (22 D.C.Code §§ 2901 and 3202) and assault with a dangerous weapon (22 D.C.Code § 502). He was sentenced to concurrent indeterminate terms under the Youth Corrections Act (18 U.S.C. § 5010(b)). On this appeal he contends that his constitutional rights were violated when he was identified by a government witness in a lineup, and later in court. We affirm the judgment.

At approximately 1:20 P.M. on May 11, 1970, two men, one armed with a sawed-off shotgun, held up Hymie's Restaurant and Carry-Out at 4408 Arkansas Avenue, N.W., in Washington. The man with the shotgun remained at the door of the restaurant while the other man entered the store and told the proprietress, Mrs. Mary Hyman, to put the money from the cash register in a bag. She complied, placing approximately $86.00 in a bag, which the man took. She noticed that this man was short, very dark, and that his head was clean-shaven. The robbers then left the store and escaped.

Officer Clarence Wheeler, a crossing guard at 13th and Upshur Streets, within a block of Hymie's Restaurant, knew Smallwood by sight, having seen him "in the neighborhood" twenty or twenty-five times. Shortly before 8:00 o'clock on the morning of the robbery Smallwood passed Officer Wheeler's post driving a red 1965 Corvair bearing temporary license tags numbered DX-2920. The car "had very loud mufflers" and was "going a little over the speed limit," which led Officer Wheeler to make a note of the tag number. He noticed also that there were two passengers in the car, one of whom had a clean-shaven head.

At about 1:20 P.M. on May 11, Officer Wheeler left his traffic post and headed for Hymie's for lunch. On the way he noticed Smallwood standing next to his car which was parked just around the corner from the restaurant. Smallwood "appeared to be nervous like he was waiting for someone." As the officer entered the restaurant two men ran out, one of them being the individual with the clean-shaven head who that morning had been a passenger in Smallwood's Corvair. When Mrs. Hyman told the officer that she had been robbed, he turned, followed the two men around the corner and saw them get into Smallwood's car. At this time the officer was within thirty feet of the car. Smallwood got behind the wheel and drove off at a fast rate of speed. Officer Wheeler went to a call box and reported the robbery, giving the tag number and a description of the car. A few minutes later he also furnished a description of Smallwood.

On May 11 Officer Davis and his partner were working in plain clothes as tactical officers, their duties being to gather intelligence and make observations of "things out of the ordinary." Pursuant to this assignment they were cruising in a police car in the neighborhood of Hymie's Restaurant. Officer Davis sat on the passenger side of the front seat. At about 1:20 P.M. Davis noticed Smallwood, just around the corner from the restaurant, standing next to a maroon Corvair with temporary tags DX-2920. The officers' attention was attracted because they "were trying to take special notes, especially of temporary tags" and they "knew that a lot of cars are stolen and using temp tags. . . ." Officer Davis noted the tag number and noticed that Smallwood was "acting nervous . . . standing beside the automobile looking around as if to be waiting for someone." The officers cruised approximately four blocks beyond the car, then turned back to observe the scene again, but found that Smallwood and the car were gone. Moments later Officer Davis heard the radio lookout for the robbery, with the description of the car and Smallwood. He realized immediately that the car and the man described were the car and the man he had just seen. He later testified that to the best of his recollection the description he heard was "Negro male, five foot nine inches to five foot 11 inches, dark complected, close cut hair, wearing a green pullover shirt. . . ."

On May 26, 1970, Officer Davis identified Smallwood in a lineup held pursuant to court order. Adams v. United States, 130 U.S.App.D.C. 203, 399 F.2d 574 (1968). Appellant's court appointed counsel was unable to be present because of illness, but substitute counsel appeared for Smallwood. Officer Davis also identified the appellant at trial.

At trial Smallwood disclaimed any knowledge of the robbery. He testified that he knew Officer Wheeler and that around 9:30 on the morning of May 11 he had driven past Wheeler, who was directing traffic at 13th and Upshur Streets. He conceded that his car was a maroon Corvair with a loud muffler, bearing temporary license tags No. DX-29201 and that he was wearing a green shirt. He said he had gone to Hymie's Restaurant at about ten o'clock and had remained there until about half past twelve when he left and went to his brother's house, arriving around one o'clock, and he then went to his mother's house. He said that before leaving Hymie's he stood beside his car for a while, watching "some kids" shooting crap.

The appellant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the identification testimony of Officer Davis. After an extended hearing the district judge overruled the motion, holding that the matter of identification was one for the jury. The appellant now challenges this ruling on several grounds. First, he says that the officer's testimony was "tainted" because he heard the broadcast description of the suspect. Second, he argues that counsel representing Smallwood at the lineup was ineffective, since he did not know at the time that Officer Davis had heard the broadcast and because he failed to provide trial counsel with an account of the lineup. We think the identification testimony was properly admitted.

The broadcast description of the appellant that Officer Davis heard coincided with the picture of the appellant that Officer Davis had in his mind from his own observation a few minutes before the broadcast. Had the officer recorded this description in his own notebook immediately after seeing the appellant, there could hardly be a valid claim that the description tainted his identification of the appellant in the lineup. That the description was recorded in a police broadcast does not change the result, for Officer Davis relied upon the image of Smallwood that he carried in his mind.

The claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is raised for the first time on appeal. At the pretrial hearing Smallwood's counsel, after noting that he had been unable to talk to the substitute lineup counsel, stipulated that he raised "no Sixth Amendment point." He said:

I do not think his [substitute counsel's] presence would add anything here. We know that Mr. Smallwood was represented and as far as possible, I believe, Your Honor, we have spread before the Court the circumstances of the lineup, so I would be willing to stipulate that Mr. Smallwood ...

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