GREENVILLE, S.C. – On February 5, 2019, after 28 days of trial, including two days of jury deliberation, Robert Taylor was acquitted of each of the 26 charges brought against him by the United States government. In a prevailing win for justice and an historic victory for his legal counsel, Jim Bannister of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, Taylor was exonerated for his alleged role as a bank executive in a fraudulent straw lending scheme after prosecutors failed to prove their case.
“When someone is innocent, the facts have a way of lining up in their favor,” commented Jim Bannister, who serves as a managing partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, located in Greenville, S.C. “Roughly speaking, less than one percent of federal jury trials result in a clean sweep of not guilty verdicts on all charges. Because the case was so complex, we are pleased and grateful that the jury understood clearly that Mr. Taylor was wrongly charged.”
Robert Taylor, who goes by Bert, added, “I may be naïve, but because I knew I did not do the things the government said I did, I trusted that the judicial system would work in my favor. The last few days of trial, the seats were packed with my family and friends showing their support. It took more than 30 minutes for the Clerk of Court to read the list of the charges and each ‘Not guilty’ verdict, and afterward, six members of the jury embraced me. It was a powerful moment of vindication for me.”
Taylor, who served as a vice president of a regional bank, was one of two bank executives charged with conspiracy, bank fraud, and the entry of false bank records in the case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of North Carolina in 2016. The real life of Robert Taylor along with the family and friends that were witnesses, however, provided solid evidence of Mr. Taylor’s reputable character, which, in the end, undermined the government’s case entirely.
“The fatal flaw in the prosecution’s case, in my opinion, is that, never once, did the government or its witnesses think to ask themselves, ‘Is this the type of man who is capable of committing a crime of this nature?’ Since the prosecution took it upon themselves to enter into evidence Bert’s day calendar for the entire two years in question, we took advantage of this move by highlighting all of the good works he was doing in his daily life simply because that’s the kind of man he was. By a compelling series of character witnesses, we were able to show the real life of Bert Taylor, one that revolved around family, community service, his faith, and on weekends, his love of college football. This man, and the kind of person who would commit these charges, were incongruent, and the jury definitely recognized that,” Bannister expanded.
An additional turning point in the favor of the defendant occurred during cross-examination involving complex evidence of banking reports. The prosecution entered more than 1,700 documents into evidence, many of which were financial reports.
Bannister continued, “Their argument was that it should have been glaringly obvious to Bert from the documents that all of this illegal activity was going on. On cross-examination, however, we were able to show that it took an FBI forensic accountant, working approximately three to four years, to allegedly connect the dots. Even then, their explanation lacked proof that the documents actually showed something illegal. ”
A win of this caliber marks a significant milestone in the case history of Bannister, as well as of his firm.
“This case and its conclusion have been personally reaffirming to me that our judicial system still works properly and that trial by jury is a bedrock protection for an innocent client.” Bannister noted.
About Jim Bannister
A managing partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, James W. (Jim) Bannister has practiced law since 1995, and has worked for Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey since 1997. In 2007, Bannister earned his Criminal Trial Advocacy Certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has tried numerous felony cases in both Federal and State Courts, and holds notable experience in cases involving Drugs and Narcotics, RICO, Internet Crimes, White Collar Crime, Security Fraud, Tax Evasion, Murder, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Criminal Domestic Violence, and DUI. He holds an AV (Preeminent) Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which recognizes lawyers for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards.
Jim Bannister has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2008 for Criminal Defense and DUI Defense. He has also been included in South Carolina’s Super Lawyers for criminal defense since 2011. In 2016, Bannister became one of only three members of the South Carolina Bar to be named as a fellow to the American Board of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a member of the South Carolina Bar, Federal Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has been honored among Greenville’s Legal Elite for criminal defense each year the award has been offered.
Jim Bannister graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in 1992 as a Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1995, after which he served for two years as clerk to US Federal Judge Henry M. Herlong.
In addition to his private practice, Jim Bannister serves on the Board of Governors for the South Carolina Bar and was recently elected as Commissioner for Greenville Water. He formerly served on two criminal law task forces, as appointed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and as a Commissioner on the Commission on Indigent Defense, a commission appointed by former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
About Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC
Since 1976, the award-winning attorneys of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey have provided skilled, professional, and tailored legal advice in the areas of criminal law, family law and real estate law in Greenville, South Carolina. Learn more at www.bannisterandwyatt.com.