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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for robbing an individual of personal property belonging to the United States. The court held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's request for instructions on duress or coercion and/or voluntariness as he failed to meet his burden of proving the existence of duress/coercion by a preponderance of the evidence. In this case, defendant's evidence amounts to a generalized and speculative fear of violence, and is insufficient to demonstrate the requisite showing of a present, imminent, and impending threat.Even if defendant had established a fear that was immediate and well-founded, the court explained that defendant's duress defense would still fail because he cannot show he had no reasonable, legal alternative to engaging in the robbery. Finally, upon careful review of the record, the court found that the court did not prohibit defendant from arguing his theory of defense. View "United States v. Sharron" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Defendants William, Junior, Carter, and Senior appealed their convictions on various drug trafficking charges. In regard to Defendant William's challenges, the Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court did not err by denying his motion to suppress the wiretap evidence; abuse its discretion in limiting the cross-examination, err in denying his request for a multiple conspiracies jury instruction, and err in applying witness intimidation and aggravated role enhancements. In regard to Defendant Junior's challenges, the court concluded that there was no error in the district court's suppression of the wiretap evidence; in granting the government's motion to sever; in determining that the evidence was sufficient to sustain his convictions; and in limiting cross-examination.In regard to Defendant Carter's challenges, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his request for a buyer-seller instruction; did not err in determining that the evidence was sufficient to sustain his convictions; and did not abuse its discretion in determining that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable. Finally, in regard to Defendant Senior's challenges, the court concluded that the district court properly denied his multiple-conspiracy and buyer-seller instructions, and the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction for conspiracy and distribution of crack and cocaine. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in its entirety. View "United States v. Campbell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for coercion and enticement of a minor. Applying de novo review, the court agreed with the district court that defendant's enticement of a minor was not induced by the government. Even if defendant could establish enticement, the court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that he had a predisposition to entice the minor. View "United States v. Tobar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the IJ's and BIA's decisions denying petitioner's request to defer his removal to Somalia under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner had entered the United States in 2001 under a false passport and was previously ordered removed. Petitioner then moved to reopen his case, which the BIA granted, remanding the case to the IJ where petitioner's request was denied.The court affirmed the IJ's and BIA's judgments, holding that substantial evidence supported the conclusions that petitioner was unlikely to be tortured for minority-clan membership. The court rejected petitioner's challenge to the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that any torture by Al-Shabaab does not qualify for CAT relief because the Somali government would not acquiesce in such torture. Rather, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that the Somali government was unlikely to acquiesce in any torture by Al-Shabaab. Finally, the court concluded that the IJ and BIA properly considered the risk of torture in the aggregate. View "Hassan v. Rosen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's order denying relief requested by debtor for wrongful foreclosure in equity, holding that the record supports the bankruptcy court's conclusion that debtor could not have been lulled by the Bank into a false sense of security regarding the foreclosure sale. In this case, debtor stipulated that "KeyBank advised Plaintiff that she had to contact KeyBank's foreclosure counsel to obtain a written payoff statement that included legal costs and fees;" the notes from the Bank's telephone records, a stipulated exhibit, indicate that debtor was so advised and nowhere in debtor's briefing does she dispute that; the call notes also establish that debtor called the Bank's foreclosure department as instructed; and while there is no evidence proving debtor's receipt of the Reinstatement Notice, there is evidence that the Bank advised her that the correct amount would be forthcoming in a letter. Therefore, the court found that the bankruptcy court's conclusion that debtor was advised by the Bank about the inaccuracy of the notification statement was not clearly erroneous. View "Courtney v. KeyBank N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence in a case where defendant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that there was no Fourth Amendment violation where the district court did not err in determining the Creighton University security officers were not acting as, or participating with, government officials when they stopped defendant and discovered the gun at issue. In this case, none of the security officers had received training from the Omaha police; they did not contact the police before detaining defendant; they did not act at the request of the police; and there is no evidence they intended to assist them. View "United States v. Avalos" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an ongoing dispute about whether plaintiffs had a contractual obligation to provide PS Finance with certain payments that plaintiffs received on behalf of a client.The Eighth Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed the claims against PS Finance based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. In this case, plaintiffs brought these claims in Arkansas after the New York court already ruled that whether plaintiffs owe money to PS Finance is a matter subject to arbitration. The court explained that, by proceeding with the claims in the district court, plaintiffs necessarily asked the federal court to review and reject the New York court's ruling that claims concerning amounts owed under the contract must be resolved in arbitration. View "Parker Law Firm v. The Travelers Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress controlled substances found at the time of his arrest as fruits of an unlawful seizure and the district court's determination that defendant is a career offender. The court agreed with the district court that the officer's polite request for defendant to stay with him was not a command and defendant's compliance did not convert the request into a command. Even if the officer's request is construed as a command that defendant remain in the parked vehicle, the court agreed with the district court that officer safety concerns made this brief seizure objectively reasonable under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21 (1968).The court also held that circuit precedent foreclosed defendant's contention that the district court did not err in concluding defendant was a career offender based on his three Illinois controlled substance offenses and his Iowa conviction for domestic assault with strangulation. The court need not consider the government's alternative argument that any error was harmless. View "United States v. Warren" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Defendant was committed to the custody of the Attorney General based on a mental disease or defect and a substantial risk of dangerousness. Subsequently, defendant was conditionally released to the community. After the district court revoked his conditional release for violation of several conditions, he appealed.The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that 18 U.S.C. 4246(f) does not direct, or even expressly authorize the district court to order a mental health exam in a proceeding to consider revocation of conditional discharge. The court explained that denial of the exam did not deprive defendant of his Fifth Amendment due process rights where he was afforded a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the revocation of his conditional release, and he did not avail himself of statutory opportunities to show that he was eligible for discharge despite violating conditions of release. View "United States v. Spann" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of assault with a dangerous weapon. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting hearsay evidence by admitting certain statements. The court explained that the government did not introduce the statements to prove the truth of the matters asserted, and thus the statements were not hearsay and were properly admitted into evidence. Although the court found defendant's statements at the hospital should not have been admitted, the error was harmless. The court concluded that any improperly admitted hearsay testimony did not influence or had a slight influence on the verdict.The court also held that the district court did not err in rejecting the proposed self-defense jury instruction, and in giving the 8th Circuit Model Jury instruction on self-defense. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for assault with a dangerous weapon. View "United States v. Earth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law