Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Within two months after plaintiff filed suit against Holiday seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Holiday remedied the violations. Three months later, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Holiday, holding that the post-suit alterations mooted plaintiff's accessibility claims. Furthermore, because there was no fair notice of the flared-sides issue, the disputed measurements are not a genuine issue of material fact. The court also held that the district court correctly ruled that nominal damages are not available under Title III of the ADA, and that requesting them does not affect mootness. View "Hillesheim v. Holiday Stationstores, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's 336 month sentence for producing child pornography. The court held that the district court failed to give defendant a full credit for the time served on related state charges. The court remanded for the district court to clarify its reasoning as to how exactly it applied USSG 5G1.3 to arrive at defendant's final sentence. Defendant's remaining challenges to his sentence lacked merit; there was no error in imposing a sentencing enhancement for engaging in a pattern of sexual exploitation under USSG 4B1.5(b); the district court considered defendant's mitigating factors under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a); and addressing the reasonableness of defendant's sentence would be premature in light of the remand. View "United States v. Winnick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's order dismissing petitioner's appeal from the IJ's decision denying her asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that the agency's adverse credibility findings were supported by specific, cogent, reasons for disbelief. In this case, petitioner failed to address the myriad of inconsistencies and contradictory statements on the record, such as the number of times she was abused, where she was abused, and whether she could successfully leave her partner. Such information was material in determining whether she is a member of a particular social group, suffered from past persecution, or has a reasonable fear of future persecution. View "Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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On remand from the Supreme Court for further consideration in light of Bucklew v. Precythe, 139 S. Ct. 1112 (2019), the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the State's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court held that to prove a claim under the Eighth Amendment, a prisoner must prove two elements: first, that the State's method of execution presents a risk that is sure or very likely to cause serious illness or needless suffering, and give rise to sufficiently imminent dangers and, second, a feasible and readily implemented alternative method of execution that would significantly reduce a substantial risk of severe pain and that the state has refused to adopt without a legitimate penological reason. Plaintiff filed suit against state officials, challenging the constitutionality of Missouri's method of execution as it applied to him. In this case, plaintiff failed to meet the second element where his claim fell squarely within the alternative holding of Bucklew that the Eighth Amendment does not require a State to adopt an untried and untested method of execution. View "Johnson v. Precythe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss evidence uncovered when police searched the home he shared with his parents. Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. The court held that, although the warrant lacked probable cause, it fell within the Leon good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. In this case, considering the specific nature of the crimes being investigated, the evidence supporting the warrant application was not so stale as to render the officer’s reliance on the warrant entirely unreasonable. Furthermore, the type of evidence sought establishes the warrant was not so stale that the officer's reliance was entirely unreasonable; there was a sufficient nexus connecting the evidence to the house; and defendant's remaining challenges were rejected. View "United States v. Augard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for transportation and receipt of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing defendant's request for a court appointed expert to examine a law enforcement agent's laptop under Federal Rule of Evidence 706. In this case, defendant presented no evidence in support of his theory that ransomware on the agent's laptop planted child pornography on defendant's laptop. The court also held that the district court did not err in refusing to allow defendant to present his innocent intent theory to the jury; any error in admitting the notations on the computer-generated reports was harmless; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request for a jury recess after a juror informed the court she was suffering from a migraine, was provided pain medicine, and then no longer appeared to be in pain. View "United States v. Juhic" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of prison officials in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action brought by plaintiff, alleging violation of his due process rights in connection with discipline imposed on him. The court held that the conditions of confinement that plaintiff faced during administrative segregation and upon his transfer to the Iowa State Penitentiary did not amount to an atypical and significant deprivation when compared to the ordinary incidents of prison life. The court held that the transfer to a higher security facility alone is insufficient to establish an atypical and significant hardship, and thus the court must examine the conditions of confinement. In this case, plaintiff failed to set forth facts describing his conditions of confinement while in administrative segregation and disciplinary detention. Furthermore, plaintiff's reference to his loss of employment, wages, security classification, security points, and inmate tier status upon his transfer did not amount to atypical and significant hardship under precedent. View "Smith v. McKinney" on Justia Law

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After defendant pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud, he claimed that the district court should have dismissed the indictment against him after alleged government misconduct came to light. Defendant was a college president involved in a bribery-and-kickback scheme with three main participants, including a state senator and a business consultant. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that defendant lacked standing to assert a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and he failed to show the constitutional violation that the senator allegedly suffered specifically affected his right to a fair trial. In this case, the senator's attorney had previously represented a law enforcement agent, who was present at an interview between the senator and government agents, in a divorce proceeding. The court also held that a co-defendant's decision to record numerous conversations was made on his own and there was no government action involved that violated defendant's constitutional rights. Finally, the court held that the agent's decision to erase his laptop's hard drive did not entitle defendant to dismissal. View "United States v. Paris" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. The court held that the Leon good-faith exception to the exclusionary ruled applied where law enforcement officers had no indication that the state court judge had failed to understand the affidavit or otherwise acted as a rubber stamp. Therefore, because the officers had no evidence that the judge abandoned his judicial role, they acted in good-faith reliance on the warrant's validity. View "United States v. Dickerman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff, a former detainee at the detention center, filed suit against the sheriff and nurse, alleging that defendants delayed his access to adequate medical treatment for a serious condition while he was detained. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support a submissible case. In this case, the nurse's actions demonstrated concern for plaintiff's condition and showed repeated efforts to make arrangements for surgery. Even if the nurse could be second-guessed for not acting more aggressively when the doctor's office delayed, her handling of the situation was at most negligent and does not amount to deliberate indifference that violates the Due Process Clause. Because plaintiff has not presented sufficient evidence that the nurse was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, it follows that the sheriff did not violate plaintiff's rights by supposedly turning a blind eye to his complaints about the nurse. Likewise, claims against defendants in their official capacities, which are treated as claims against the municipality, failed for lack of a constitutional violation. View "Morris v. Cradduck" on Justia Law