United States v. Books, No. 17-3493 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
On trial for bank robbery, Books chose not to testify in his own defense. He was found guilty and sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment. He challenged the district court’s decision to allow eyewitness testimony from two bank tellers; Books alleged they based their identification of him as the robber not on personal knowledge, but rather on information improperly supplied by a police detective. He also challenged a ruling that would have allowed the government, had Books chosen to testify, to impeach him with physical evidence directly tying him to the robbery—evidence the police learned of (and recovered) only as a result of a confession the district court separately had determined was unlawfully coerced. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the conviction. The district court did not err in finding the eyewitness identifications reflected the tellers’ firsthand knowledge of Books; allowing their testimony at trial was entirely proper. Nor does the district court’s conditional impeachment ruling, even if wrong on the law, mandate reversal in light of the overwhelming weight of evidence against Books.