Friday, September 02, 2005

US v. Strobehn

No. 04-50167 (8-31-05). It will do bank robberies well to say, along with "Give me all your money, and no dye packs!", the admonition, "hold still!" The reason is that under 18 USC 2113(e), if a robber "forces any person to accompany him without the consent of such person," he faces a mandatory 10. The issue here is what is the definition of accompany? The defendant went to a security guard outside the bank, ordered him to walk into the bank, and lie down. It took 45 seconds and a few feet. The 9th concludes that is all that is required. It doesn't have to be an extended accompaniment, or substantial. This is the majority position of the 4th, 5th, 7th and 11th Circuits. The Tenth Circuit however has adopted a substantiality approach, which is rejected by the 9th. In dissent, B. Fletcher argues that congressional intent clearly meant for a substantial "accompaniment," akin to kidnapping or hostage taking, and Fletcher points to the levels of penalties from armed bank robbery to this. She points out that merely ordering someone from one part of the bank to another, in order to watch them, would fall into this interpretation. In another interesting issue, the defendant left a long rambling letter on the kitchen table where details were revealed. the letter was addressed to his wife, but after a page or so, went on to address others. This was not a marital communication so as to be privileged (Example: "Honey, ran out to get eggs and milk and rob a bank. Be back soon.") because it was meant to be read by third parties.


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