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United States v. Burnley

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
533 F.3d 901 (2008)


The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Walter Burnley (defendant) for four bank robberies, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). The trial evidence established that Burnley and Lisa Harding, his accomplice on two occasions, walked into each bank and gave an empty bag to a teller, calmly ordering the teller to fill the bag with money. On three occasions, Burnley and Harding warned the teller not to place dye packs or bait bills in the bags. There was some evidence that each teller reacted with nervousness or fright. Nevertheless, each teller complied with Burnley’s and Harding's demands. The jury convicted Burnley on all four counts. On appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Burnley's newly appointed lawyer contended that the government failed to prove that Burnley used force or the threat of force, a required element of the crime of robbery, on any of the four occasions. Burnley's previous lawyer never raised that argument at trial, and instead conceded in his opening and closing arguments that robberies had been committed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)

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