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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's order directing the entry of judgment in favor of defendants on plaintiffs' complaint to determine the dischargeability of their claims against defendants. In this case, plaintiffs' appeal was premised on the bankruptcy court's perceived error in not giving preclusive effect to the state court default judgment. However, the court held that the issue was no longer before the bankruptcy court despite the bankruptcy court's passing reference to the state court default judgment. Therefore, the panel did not reach either of the issues raised by plaintiffs. The panel held that, by withdrawing their motion for partial summary judgment and submitting the matter to the bankruptcy court on an agreed record–without renewing their claim that the state court default judgment should be given preclusive effect–plaintiffs abandoned that claim. View "Abel v. Queen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed TEI's appeal of the district court's order remanding the case to state court based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, because the court could not review the merits of the remand order, colorably characterized as based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and it must stand whether erroneous or not. View "Vasseur v. TEI Construction Services, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to having a prohibited object in prison on two separate occasions. The court held that the district court erred in concluding it lacked authority to run the four-month sentences concurrently. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to twice violating 18 U.S.C. 1791, which requires an inmate's custodial punishment for contraband possession be imposed "consecutive to the sentence being served by such inmate at the time the inmate commits such violation." The court held that the district court's mistaken belief to the contrary constituted a significant procedural error which was not harmless. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Moody" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion as moot, because his motion challenged only his term of imprisonment, which has now expired. In this case, petitioner did not dispute the term of supervised release. Because petitioner has obtained all of the relief that he sought, there was no ongoing case or controversy. View "Owen v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. The court held that there was no error in admitting bad act evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), because the evidence of the prior law enforcement in Arizona was relevant to the material issue of knowledge and intent and was similar in kind to the offense in this case. Furthermore, the potential prejudice outweighed its probative value, and the district court gave an appropriate limiting instruction. The court also held that the district court did not plainly err in permitting a police officer to testify on drug dealing practices. The government offered the testimony to rebut the "unknown courier defense," and the officer testified that it was highly unlikely a drug dealer/trafficker would entrust someone ignorant of their responsibility for a very valuable shipment. View "United States v. Gutierrez-Ramirez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff, along with her late husband, filed suit challenging a city ordinance that requires at least fifty percent of their residential yard to contain turf grass. The Eighth Circuit affirmed plaintiff's substantive due process claim, but held that the district court was without jurisdiction to dismiss the Eighth Amendment claim on the merits. In this case, plaintiff's claim that the city's ordinance violated her due process rights was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Furthermore, the Eighth Amendment claim was not ripe for review, because it is unknown whether the city will impose sanctions or, if sanctions are imposed, what they might be. View "Duffner v. City of St. Peters" on Justia Law

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After police shot and killed a suspect, the administrators of the decedent's estate filed suit against the officer who fired the fatal shots, alleging that the officer violated the decedent's constitutional rights by using unreasonable force. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because his use of force, even if just over the line of reasonableness, violated a clearly established right. In this case, the officer was suddenly confronted, at a distance of only three feet, with a suspect who was armed with a knife after ignoring multiple commands to drop it. View "Swearingen v. Judd" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for American Family in an action brought by plaintiff seeking uninsured motorist coverage from American Family after he was involved in a car accident. The court held that material facts remained unresolved regarding the proximate cause of the accident. In this case, a question of fact exists regarding whether the other driver's entry into the highway, alone, caused the accident or whether the brown car's entry ahead of the other driver caused him to stop, making the accident unavoidable. View "Cottrell v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The court held that there was no error in applying the concurrent sentence doctrine and the district court did not abuse its discretion in not ordering a complete resentencing. In this case, petitioner's career offender sentence on possession of cocaine with intent to distribute was still valid under Beckles v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017). The court also held that appellate counsel did not provide constitutionally ineffective assistance by failing to inform this court on direct appeal that petitioner's sentence might be affected by the Supreme Court’s impending decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). The court reasoned that the failure of counsel to anticipate a rule of law that has yet to be articulated did not render counsel's performance professionally unreasonable. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held the ineffective assistance of counsel claim regarding petitioner's plea was properly denied, because a reasonable attorney could have determined that the record, including the government's uncontested evidence and petitioner's own colloquy with the magistrate judge, established an adequate factual basis for petitioner's guilty plea to the money laundering charge. The court also held that petitioner's claim that trial counsel improperly coerced the plea was properly rejected. Finally, the issue of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel was not included in the certificate of appealability and the court declined to address it. View "Meza-Lopez v. United States" on Justia Law