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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motions to suppress evidence and defendant's 57 month sentence. The court held that the district court properly denied the motion to suppress evidence gathered during an inventory search where the officers followed departmental policy in impounding and inventorying his vehicle, and an inventory search conducted according to standard departmental policies was reasonable. Furthermore, the district court properly denied the motion to suppress evidence gathered during a search of defendant's vehicle where an officer observed crack cocaine in plain view inside the car before initiating the search. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a sentence at the bottom of the Sentencing Guidelines range and the sentence was substantively reasonable. In this case, the district court allotted relatively greater weight to the nature and circumstances of the offense than to the mitigating personal characteristics of defendant. View "United States v. Dunn" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When confronted with disputed fact issues, a district court may rely on relevant hearsay evidence and other evidence that is inadmissible under the rules of evidence so long as that evidence possesses sufficient indicia of reliability to support its probable accuracy. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute actual methamphetamine. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion as to the hearsay evidence defendant objected to; did not plainly err as to the unobjected-to testimony; and did not clearly err in regard to its findings of drug quantity, defendant's possession of a firearm, and his role in the offense. The court also held that the district court's denial of defendant's requested downward departure was unreviewable and the district court was within its discretion to rely primarily on the seriousness of the offense, defendant's extensive role in the conspiracy, and his criminal history. View "United States v. Angeles-Moctezuma" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence after he was convicted of conspiring to retaliate against a federal witness. The court held that the district court did not err by applying an eight-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2J1.2(b)(1)(B) to defendant's offense level for the witness-retaliation charge where he triggered the enhancement the moment he sent a threat by way of his friend. The court rejected defendant's contention that, under Burrage v. United States, 571 U.S. 204 (2014), the government had to prove defendant's efforts were the singular cause of the threats, as opposed to incidental, tangential, or even contributing causes. In this case, the action required to apply the enhancement occurred when defendant dispatched his friend with the threatening message. View "United States v. Tywin Bender" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Applying plain error review, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence, holding that the officers' alleged violation of the knock-and-announce rule had nothing to do with their seizure of the gun, drugs, and cash in defendant's hotel room pursuant to their search warrant. In this case, the warrant was based solely on evidence obtained prior to the officers' entry. Therefore, the court explained that regardless of whether the officers violated the knock-and-announce rule, they still would have obtained and executed the warrant and discovered the aforementioned evidence. View "United States v. Diaz-Ortiz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Any authority for judicial approval of Fair Labor Standards Act settlements in 29 U.S.C. 216 does not extend to review of settled attorney fees. Plaintiff appealed the district court's order modifying the attorney fees in the parties' settlement agreement. The Eighth Circuit vacated the portion of the district court's judgment awarding the fees, holding that the district court lacked authority to review the settled attorney fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41. In this case, the parties were entitled to settle the attorney fee issue and no law gave the district court authority to interfere with that unconditional right. View "Barbee v. Big River Steel LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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Plaintiff, an Arkansas state prisoner, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against his former parole officer and another police officer, alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the officers' motions to dismiss, holding that the district court erred in denying the officers qualified immunity. The court held that, even assuming the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to knock and announce their presence before entering plaintiff's dwelling, it was not clearly established in January 2015 that failing to knock and announce before entering the dwelling of a parolee was unlawful. The court also rejected plaintiff's claim that there was a robust consensus of persuasive authority on the question. View "Lane v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order denying petitioner's motion to reopen. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to reopen because petitioner failed to demonstrate prima facie eligibility for relief. In this case, the IJ and BIA permissibly determined that petitioner's evidence of vague and unfulfilled threats failed to establish past persecution. Furthermore, the IJ and BIA also permissibly determined that petitioner's evidence of general crime and violence in Mexico failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution based on his alleged involvement with the Christian anti-drug group. Finally, the court found no denial of due process in petitioner's earlier proceedings. View "Rivera-Guerrero v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's special condition of supervised release imposed after he pleaded guilty to production of child pornography and to commission of a felony offense involving a minor. The court held that the district court did not plainly err by imposing a special condition that prohibited defendant from possessing or using a computer or have access to any online service without prior approval of the probation officer. The court reasoned that the special condition did not involve a greater deprivation of liberty than was reasonably necessary and it was not a complete ban on Internet access. Furthermore, there was ample evidence that defendant used his devices for activities beyond simply possessing child pornography, including producing child pornography. View "United States v. Perrin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. Because defendant did not object to the fact of the tribal convictions or of any tribal arrests, or to the factual descriptions of the convictions and arrests as contained in the PSR, the court reviewed his claim for plain error. The court held that the sentence was not procedurally unreasonable and the district court did not plainly err by relying on any information that was not otherwise available to the court or to the parties. The court also held that the sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing an upward variance of 23 months. In this case, the district court did not give significant weight to the disparity between defendant's state and federal sentences, and properly relied on the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Cloud" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted defendants' petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the previous opinion. The court reversed the district court's ruling that plaintiff had alleged sufficient claims to state 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims against a police officer, the police chief, and the city. The court held that, in the absence of any intentional acquisition of physical control terminating plaintiff's freedom of movement through means intentionally applied, no seizure occurred. In this case, plaintiff was not ordered to stop and to remain in place, plaintiff's decision to remain with his companion during the companion's altercation with the officer rather than complying with the officer's lawful command to return to the sidewalk was that of his own choosing, and plaintiff was able to leave the scene following the discharge of the officer's weapon gives lie to his argument that the place of the officer's vehicle prevented him from doing so. The court also held that the claim of supervisory liability against the police chief and municipal liability against the city failed because there was no constitutional violation. View "Johnson v. City of Ferguson" on Justia Law