The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity against a trooper who shot and killed plaintiff's dog when the dog ran onto a highway and obstructed traffic. The court held that the issue was not whether the trooper had the authority to seize the dog, but whether the degree of force he employed was reasonable to accomplish the necessary seizure. In this case, the trooper's actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Even assuming a constitutional violation, the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because his conduct did not violate a clearly established Fourth Amendment right. Plaintiff has not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that an officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed an unrestrained, unsupervised dog creating a serious risk to public safety and avoiding numerous attempts to control him without force. View "Hansen v. Black" on Justia Law
Defendant, a corporal in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss claims related to the search of a residence. The district court determined that defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable officer would have known that a warrant should not have issued based on the information he provided to the issuing court. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that it was not entirely unreasonable for defendant to believe that his affidavit established sufficient indicia of probable cause for the search and seizure of the items listed in the warrant. In this case, the affidavit provided probable cause to seize a deer, based on an anonymous tip and a recorded jailhouse call. Furthermore, the items described in the warrant were relevant to the criminal offense under investigation, as they directly related to the existence, capture, and maintaining of a pet deer. View "Kiesling v. Spurlock" on Justia Law
Hughes guides hunting parties, charging $1,600 to $2,600 per person for accommodations, meals, hunting stands, field dressing, and carcass-cleaning facilities. To hunt buck in Iowa, a hunter must have a “tag.” Non-residents must enter a lottery. Hughes gave his non-resident clients tags belonging to others. After they killed a buck, Hughes falsely reported to the Iowa DNR that the tag owner had killed the buck. The bucks were transported out of state. Hughes was indicted under the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. 3371, which prohibits selling in interstate commerce any wildlife taken in violation of state law. The value of the wildlife determines whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor. The court instructed the jury: you may, but are not required to, consider, the price the wildlife would bring if sold on the open market between a willing buyer and seller; the price a hunter would pay for the opportunity to participate in a hunt for the wildlife; or Iowa’s valuation of the wildlife in state prosecutions where such wildlife is unlawfully taken. The jury found that the market value of the wildlife exceeded $350. The district court sentenced Hughes to three years’ probation, $7,000 in fines, and $1,802.50 in restitution. The Eighth Circuit reversed; the jury was not properly instructed as to the meaning of “market value.” View "United States v. Hughes" on Justia Law
Bertucci pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a bald eagle and a hawk, 16 U.S.C. 668(a), 703, and 707. Bertucci had a criminal history score of two; his offense level was 10, with a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2Q2.1(b)(3)(A)(ii) and 2B1.1(b)(1)(C) based on "loss" amounts for the birds that exceeded $10,000 but did not exceed $30,000 and a two-level enhancement under 2Q2.1(b)(1)(B) for a "pattern of similar violations" because Bertucci was convicted in 2009 for possession of bald eagle feathers. There were several paragraphs concerning previous assaults that Bertucci had allegedly committed. Bertucci argued that the court had adopted a $2,000 valuation for bald eagles in the 2009 prosecutions of him and his brother and that the allegations of assault were baseless. The court denied Bertucci's objections and sentenced him to eight months' imprisonment with a special condition of supervised release that required Bertucci to "successfully complete, and pay for any diagnostic evaluations and treatment or counseling programs for anger management." The court imposed a "financial obligation" on Bertucci: $5000.00 for the eagle and $1500.00 for the hawk. The Eighth Circuit vacated the sentence, stating that the court failed to establish the basis for requiring counseling; that the financial obligation constituted restitution; and that the valuation was not justified. View "United States v. Bertucci" on Justia Law
Plaintiffs Thomas and Martha Duban filed suit against Waverly, alleging negligence arising out of Martha's injuries she sustained when she was stepped on by a horse at the Waverly draft horse auction. At issue was whether, as a matter of law, the exception from the Iowa Code applies, such that Waverly cannot take advantage of the general immunity provided to domesticated animal activity sponsors. The court held that, because Waverly designated or intended the northeast alley as an area for persons who were not participants to be present, the exception from Iowa Code 673.2(4) applied to these facts as a matter of law, and Waverly was subject to liability for Martha's injuries. Accordingly, the court concluded that the motions for judgment as a matter of law were properly denied. View "Duban, et al. v. Waverly Sales Co." on Justia Law
Plaintiff brought suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against officials who seized numerous dogs from a kennel she ran on her property. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on plaintiff's claims and plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's claims against the county under Heck v. Humphrey where plaintiff did not allege that her 163 convictions for animal cruelty had been overturned and plaintiff conceded that several of her allegations underlying such claims were past the statue of limitations. As for the 2006 claims, plaintiff failed to dispute the district court's holding that she failed to exhaust her remedy under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 15.2. Plaintiff also failed to show an unconstitutional policy or custom was the moving force behind the violation of her rights. The court further held that the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's claims against the Humane Society defendants because no evidence supported plaintiff's conspiracy allegations. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
Posted in: Animal / Dog Law, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals