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Rosales-Martinez was charged with sexual abuse in the second degree for inappropriately touching his step-daughter, A.C. Before trial, the state sought a protective order for A.C.’s deposition, requiring that Rosales-Martinez be separated from her by a one-way mirror and that she not be told he is on the other side. Rosales-Martinez consented to the mirror but requested A.C. be told he was present and could hear her. After hearing testimony from the child’s therapist and her foster mother, the court denied Rosales-Martinez’s request, finding that A.C. would suffer serious trauma caused by testifying in the physical presence of the defendant and that it would impair A.C.’s ability to communicate. Before trial, the state sought a protective order for A.C.’s testimony. Rosales-Martinez agreed to A.C. testifying by closed-circuit television, but again requested she be told he was present and could hear her. Relying on the previous findings, the judge denied Rosales-Martinez’s request. The jury deadlocked. Before retrial, A.C.’s guardian ad litem told the court that the previous procedure was still necessary based on conversations with A.C. The court reiterated its previous findings. Rosales-Martinez was convicted. Iowa courts affirmed and denied post-conviction relief. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a federal habeas petition. After a proper finding of necessity, a child witness may testify by use of a special procedure if under oath, subject to full cross-examination, and “observed by” the judge, jury, and defendant. View "Rosales-Martinez v. Ludwick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 2007-2010, the Hargises bought and operated nursing homes. Bobby was the sole owner of corporations that operated the homes (Operating Corporations), which were S corporations. Brenda owned interests in companies that bought and leased the homes to the Operating Corporations (Nursing Home LLCs). The Nursing Home LLCs were partnerships under 26 C.F.R. 301.7701-3(a). All the entities had net operating losses, which the Hargises deducted on their joint tax returns for 2009 and 2010. The Commissioner issued the Hargises a notice of deficiency, disallowing their deduction of most of the nursing home losses, due to the Hargises’ insufficient basis in their companies. The Hargises owed $281,766. The Tax Court ruled for the Commissioner. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Tax Court correctly denied Bobby any basis in the indebtedness of the Operating Corporations, finding “no convincing evidence that any of the lenders looked to [Bobby] as the primary obligor on the loans.” The Commissioner properly calculated Brenda’s basis from the Nursing Home LLCs’ tax returns (Schedule K-1). Her deduction of their losses is limited to “the adjusted basis of [her] interest in the partnership.” View "Hargis v. Koskinen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law

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During the Rwandan Genocide, the United States admitted a limited number of refugees with priority given to those who were in the most danger, including, in 1998, Ngombwa and purported members of his family. In 1998, DHS received information from prosecutors in Rwanda that Ngombwa had twice been convicted in absentia by Rwandan tribal courts for participation in the Genocide and had been named in an indictment in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The government proved at trial that his admission, status, and eventual naturalization were based on material falsehoods. At sentencing, the government proved to the district court’s satisfaction that the falsehoods were used to conceal Ngombwa’s participation in the Genocide. The Eighth Circuit affirmed his convictions for unlawful procurement of naturalization and conspiracy to commit the same, 18 U.S.C. 1425, 371, and his above-Guidelines sentence of 180 months. Rejecting Ngombwa’s claim his counsel was ineffective for failing to contact and interview five of his family members, the court reasoned that counsel made a strategic decision to avoid more detrimental evidence. View "United States v. Ngombwa" on Justia Law

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Defendants are the nation’s largest distributors of pre-filled propane exchange tanks, which come in a standard size. Before 2008, Defendants filled the tanks with 17 pounds of propane. In 2008, due to rising prices, Defendants reduced the amount in each tato 15 pounds, maintaining the same price. Plaintiffs, indirect purchasers, who bought tanks from retailers, claimed this effectively raised the price. In 2009, plaintiffs filed a class action alleging conspiracy under the Sherman Act. Plaintiffs settled with both Defendants. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against Defendants, which settled in 2015 by consent orders, for conspiring to artificially inflate tank prices. In 2014, another group of indirect purchasers (Ortiz) brought a class action against Defendants, alleging: “Despite their settlements, Defendants continued to conspire, and ... maintained their illegally agreed-upon fill levels, preserving the unlawfully inflated prices." The Ortiz suit became part of a multidistrict proceeding that included similar allegations by direct purchasers (who bought tanks directly from Defendants for resale). The Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the direct-purchaser suit as time-barred, holding that each sale in a price-fixing conspiracy starts the statutory period running again. The court subsequently held that the indirect purchasers inadequately pled an injury-in-fact and lack standing to pursue an injunction to increase the fill levels of the tanks and may not seek disgorgement of profits. View "Ortiz v. Ferrellgas Partners, L.P." on Justia Law

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Glover was imprisoned for distributing cocaine base. In 2015, he began serving his five-year term of supervised release. In 2016, he was arrested for unlawfully possessing marijuana packaged for delivery and interfering with official acts. The district court found him in violation of the terms of his supervised release, imposed a revocation sentence of eight months’ imprisonment and four years’ supervised release, with the new special condition that he not have contact with his fiancee, Watkins, who is the mother of his child. An officer had testified that, during a recorded phone call after Glover’s arrest, Glover and Watkins discussed the day of Glover’s arrest in a way that implicated Watkins as having been in a “tailing” car. The judge stated: He’s not going to be able to have contact with her because she was engaged in criminal activity, and indicated that Watkins may have stolen items found in their shared home. The Eighth Circuit vacated the condition. The district court’s explanation was not sufficient to permit meaningful appellate review. It appears Watkins had knowledge of at least some of Glover’s criminal activity, but the nature of her involvement is unclear; the court made no findings regarding her connection to the money or clothes and expressed uncertainty as to whether Watkins was the mother of Glover’s child. View "United States v. Glover" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for firearms-related charges. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for possession of stolen firearms and for being a felon in possession of a firearm; there was no extraordinary circumstance in this case permitting the court to review the jury's credibility determinations; evidentiary challenges were rejected; the district court did not err by imposing a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1)(B) based on the number of weapons involved in the offenses, USSG 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) for possessing the firearms in connection with another felony offense, and USSG 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice; and the sentence imposed did not create unwarranted sentencing disparities. View "United States v. Hemsher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 72 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The court held that the district court neither abused its discretion nor committed a clear error of judgment in weighing defendant's prior DUI conviction. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by giving significant weight to the state statute in sentencing defendant. In this case, the district court carefully considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and made an individualized assessment based on the facts presented and thus defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Grace" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the United States and the Deputy U.S. Marshals in their individual and official capacities on plaintiff's claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, and assault and battery under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). In this case, plaintiff was mistakenly arrested when defendants were executing an arrest warrant for another individual. Applying Missouri tort law, the court held that none of plaintiff's proposed facts contradicted a material fact that the district court relied on in conducting its summary judgment analysis; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the false arrest and false imprisonment claim where plaintiff's arrest and 20-minute detention were justified; defendants were also entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for abuse of process; and the court's prior holding on qualified immunity was dispositive of plaintiff's assault and battery claim. View "Wright v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254(d) to petitioner, who was convicted of statutory sodomy and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The court held that the Missouri state courts did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law when they held that the admission of, and the state's reference to, the entirety of petitioner's post-Miranda interview did not constitute a violation under Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610 (1976). The panel reasoned that the playing of the interview and the references to it were not designed to draw meaning from petitioner's eventual assertion of his right to remain silent. Furthermore, the determination by the Missouri Court of Appeals that any error was harmless did not constitute an unreasonable determination of the facts, and thus any error in admitting the video did not have a substantial and injurious effect on the verdict, foreclosing any entitlement to habeas relief. View "Ervin v. Bowersox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After the Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence on the ground that second-degree robbery in Missouri was not a violent felony under the reasoning of United States v. Bell, 840 F.3d 963, 965-67 (8th Cir. 2016), the en banc court held that the district court properly counted defendant's Missouri robbery conviction as a violent felony. The en banc court granted rehearing, overruled Bell, and then returned the case to this panel to resolve the balance of defendant's appeal. The panel held that defendant's conviction for unlawful use of a weapon in Missouri was a conviction for a violent felony under 18 U.S.C. 924(e). Therefore, defendant sustained three previous convictions for a violent felony at the time of his offense in this case, and the district court properly applied the sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act. View "United States v. Swopes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law