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Petitioner challenged the district court's denial of his petition for habeas relief after he pleaded guilty to an accomplice to murder charge and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that petitioner's counsel's initial performance was not deficient under Strickland v. Washington, where counsel's opposition to a state hospital evaluation that could be used against him was an acceptable strategic decision. Furthermore, petitioner failed to prove that counsel was deficient in failing to have a competency evaluation performed prior to the entry of the plea. The court held that, taken as a whole, the evidence was insufficient to establish a reasonable probability that petitioner would have been found incompetent to proceed. Therefore, petitioner could not establish that he was prejudiced by counsel's decisions. View "Camacho v. Kelley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for obstruction of justice for threatening to retaliate. The court held that the difference between the verdict director and the indictment was so immaterial as to be de minimis, and defendant did not suffer prejudice. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support a verdict that defendant threatened an individual with the intent to retaliate against the individual's client for the client's participation as a party to an official proceeding. View "United States v. Stephens" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that defendant agreed with others to bring H-2A workers to the U.S. and to require them to pay a recruitment fee, travel costs, and kickbacks on their wages; she had already been using the H-visa system for years and knew its legal requirement; and she knew that the scheme would require that she or the others would file false certifications with DOL and DHS under penalty of perjury and that those false statements would materially affect agency decisions for an H-2A employer. In this case, the conspirators knew what they were doing was illegal and carried out a number of overt acts in furtherance of their arrangement. The court rejected defendant's claim that the district court should have granted her motion to question jurors individually at an evidentiary hearing as well as her motion for a new trial after an Assistant United States Attorney overheard a juror say the word "guilty," in the presence of other jurors, on an elevator. View "United States v. Bart" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of his denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that petitioner did not meet his burden to propose a social group, so the immigration judge did not need to seek clarification; the IJ considered the issues raised and announced its decision in terms sufficient to enable a reviewing court to perceive that it has heard and thought and not merely reacted; the BIA did not err in finding the proposed group - Guatemalans who refused to participate in drug trafficking and spoke "out of turn" about the solicitation - was too broad and amorphous to be recognizable; and petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution. View "Mayorga-Rosa v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action filed by plaintiff, challenging the termination of his employment from the University. The court held that plaintiff's speech stemmed from his professional responsibilities and was made in furtherance of those responsibilities, and was therefore not protected under the First Amendment; the pre- and post-termination procedures did not violate plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; plaintiff failed to establish a substantive due process claim because he failed to show that the University President's decision to terminate him was both conscience shocking and in violation of one or more fundamental rights; the district court properly dismissed the individual capacity claims against the University President based on qualified immunity; and the district court properly dismissed the claims against defendants in their official capacity. View "Groenewold v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. The court held that the North Dakota law for accomplice to burglary, which defendant was previously convicted of four times, was indivisible and criminalized more than the definition of "burglary" under federal law. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Kinney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action against Harne defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the State's failure to share annual payments under a Settlement Agreement, where Minnesota released and forever discharged tobacco companies from claims that they violated state consumer protection statutes in exchange for substantial period payments, constituted a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that res judicata barred the claim. In this case, plaintiff's takings claim in federal court was identical to the federal takings claims asserted in Harne v. State, No. A14-1985, 2015 WL 4523895; Harne involved the same parties; under Minnesota law, the dismissal of the claims in Harne as time-barred was a final judgment on the merits; and plaintiff and Harne actually litigated their federal claims in Harne. View "Foster v. Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of seven special conditions of supervised release. The special conditions were imposed after revocation of defendant's supervised release and new sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct involving a child by indecent exposure. Defendant argued that the district court imposed the challenged conditions without providing a sufficient explanation of how the conditions satisfied the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 3583(d). The court held that defendant could not meet his burden to show that the district court made an obvious error that caused prejudice and a miscarriage of justice. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's orders confirming debtors' chapter 13 plan. In order for the anti-modification provisions of 8 U.S.C. 1322(b)(2) to apply, creditors' claim must both be secured only by an interest in real property and the real property must be the debtor's principal residence. The panel held that debtors could modify creditor's secured plan because debtors' manufactured home was not a fixture under Iowa law. In this case, the panel saw no reason to disturb the bankruptcy court's finding that debtors' testimony was credible and that they did not intend to make the home a permanent accession to the real estate. View "The Paddock, LLC v. Bennett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Accounts Receivable in an action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The court held that the district court did not err by applying the materiality standard to the relevant provisions of the Act; Accounts Receivable's inadequate documentation of the assignment did not constitute a materially false representation, and the other alleged inaccuracies in the exhibits were not material; and Accounts Receivable did not commit unfair practices and violate the Act by trying to collect interest under Minnesota Statutes 549.09. View "Hill v. Accounts Receivable Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law