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

by
This appeal arose from a final order entered by the bankruptcy court denying debtor's motion for "Revised and Corrected Motion for Relief From Judgment or Order and/or Reopen the Case, Motion for Evidentiary Hearing/Appointment of Counsel." The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel dismissed the appeal as untimely and concluded that debtor's notice of appeal was not timely filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8002(a)(a). In this case, debtor recognized that his appeal was beyond the 14-day limit and debtor did not seek an extension of time to file his appeal from the bankruptcy court pursuant to Rule 8002(d). The panel noted that, to the extent debtor is raising an issue involving service of the order, and any related time period for appeal, it is properly addressed in the first instance by the bankruptcy court not in the Notice of Appeal. View "Reichel v. Snyder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress and motion for a Franks hearing after he was convicted of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine. In regard to the motion to suppress, the court concluded that, even if the warrant affidavit lacked probable cause, the good faith exception applies in this case because the issuing judge could have logically inferred that defendant stored contraband at his residence. Therefore, the officer's reliance on the search warrant was objectively reasonable. In regard to the motion for a Franks hearing, the court also concluded that defendant has not made a substantial preliminary showing that the statements at issue were false and defendant waived his GPS-related argument. View "United States v. Mayweather" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
After BANA canceled the foreclosure sale of plaintiff's residence, he filed an amended complaint alleging claims of wrongful foreclosure, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), and negligent misrepresentation. The district court denied BANA's motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim and denied plaintiff's request for leave to file an amended complaint, entering an order dismissing the case with prejudice.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, construing plaintiff's pro se motion for a temporary restraining order as a petition initiating a civil action against BANA under Missouri law, and determining that plaintiff's conduct throughout the course of litigation amounts to an acknowledgement that his filing before the St. Louis County Circuit Court was both a motion and a petition. The court explained that when the district court dissolved the temporary restraining order, a live case and controversy remained in the form of plaintiff's claims. Therefore, this case is not moot. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's negligent misrepresentation claim for failure to state a claim. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to again amend his complaint. View "Rivera v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review challenging petitioner's removability and seeking asylum. Petitioner, a Somali native who is part of a minority Islamic sect called Sufism, fled Somalia to escape the country's civil war. He came to the United States in 2000 and his entire family resides in the United States, including his nine children.The court concluded that petitioner's conviction for possession of khat relates to a federal controlled substance under 8 U.S.C.  1227(a)(2)(B)(i). In this case, khat contains at least one of two substances listed on the federal drug schedules and thus petitioner is removable. In regard to asylum, the court applied de novo review and concluded that petitioner's evidence was insufficient to establish the social distinctiveness of his proposed social group: those suffering from mental health illnesses, specifically post traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, the Board did not err in concluding that the IJ's factual finding that the Somali government was helpless against al-Shabaab was clearly erroneous. View "Ahmed v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to a deputy sheriff in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that the deputy sheriff failed to safeguard plaintiff's health and safety and had thereby inflicted injuries upon him. In this case, the deputy sheriff was transporting plaintiff from a medical appointment to the Lee County Correctional Center when city police dispatch advised of an armed robbery nearby. The deputy sheriff drove to the bank with the intent of observing the crime in progress, saw the robbery suspect flee on foot through a vacant lot, and drove his cruiser at approximately 20 to 25 miles per hour through the lot to follow the fleeing suspect. During the pursuit, the suspect shot at the cruiser and the deputy sheriff turned sharply to the right and drove away from the scene. Plaintiff, who was shackled and "thrown around" in the back of the cruiser without a seatbelt during these events, alleged that the deputy sheriff subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.The court could not say that the deputy sheriff's actions in this quickly evolving emergency situation were anything more than negligent and thus were clearly insufficient to constitute deliberate indifference. In the absence of a showing that he acted with deliberate indifference, plaintiff has failed to establish the existence of an Eighth Amendment violation. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to enter an appropriate order. View "Stark v. Lee County" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in denying petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his life sentences. The court concluded that, for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 3559(c)(1), his Iowa convictions for robbery and first-degree robbery were serious violent felonies under the section's enumerated-offense clause. In this case, petitioner cannot show that at the time of sentencing, the district court necessarily relied on section 3559's residual clause in ruling that the aggravated robbery conviction and first-degree robbery conviction were serious violent felonies. Therefore, the district court properly refused to vacate the mandatory life sentence under section 3559. View "Langford v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that investigating officers had violated his constitutional rights. After spending more than 10 years in prison, plaintiff was released when new evidence suggested that he was not the driver of a vehicle that caused a fatal accident.In regard to plaintiff's reckless-investigation claims, the court concluded that, even if the trooper could have conducted a more thorough investigation, there is no evidence that he recklessly or purposefully ignored eyewitnesses. Furthermore, failing to locate an unavailable witness does not qualify as recklessly or purposefully ignoring evidence. Nor did the trooper's failure to ask additional questions at the scene shock the conscience. The court also concluded that the officers' decision to leave the vehicle at a local impound lot also did not rise to the level of reckless or purposeful misconduct. Finally, because plaintiff failed to establish a constitutional violation, his remaining claims also fail. View "Engesser v. Fox" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for distributing a controlled substance near a protected location resulting in death and of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance near a protected location. The court concluded that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement where defendant's statements were consensual and he was never seized or detained. In this case, an officer's statement to "just kinda stay here" was not a seizure or a significant restraint on his movement, and latter statements to stay outside the apartment were made to assure the officer and defendant did not get in the way of medical staff and did not amount to a detention. The court explained that none of the other factors suggest that defendant's encounter had ripened into a seizure or custodial arrest. Even if the court assumed that defendant was seized and in custody at the police station, it is clear from the totality of the circumstances that defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda rights.The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's request for a lesser-included-offense jury instruction of possession of heroin for Count II, in addition to distribution of heroin; there was sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction; and the elements necessary to apply the concurrent sentence doctrine are present in this case. View "United States v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
After the district court denied defendant's motion to suppress video recordings discovered on his laptop, defendant pleaded guilty conditionally to one count of receiving child pornography and unconditionally to one count of wire fraud.The Eighth Circuit concluded that probable cause combined with exigent circumstances justified the warrantless seizure of defendant's laptop. In this case, the investigators had probable cause to believe the laptop contained evidence of a crime based on an interview with defendant's uncle; the investigators had an objectively reasonable belief that exigent circumstances demanded the seizure; and the fifteen-day delay between seizure and application for the search warrant was not unreasonable. The court also concluded that, even under de novo review, the district court provided an adequate explanation of defendant's within-guidelines-range sentence. The court further concluded that the district court did not rely on clearly-erroneous facts in setting the sentence. However, the imposition of certain special conditions concerning computer use, contact with persons under the age of 18, and participation in sex-offender treatment are vacated and remanded so that the district court may conduct the requisite "individualized inquiry" and make sufficient findings on the record. Furthermore, the special condition concerning possession of use of sexually oriented materials is also remanded to permit the district court to amend its written judgment to conform to its oral pronouncement at sentencing. View "United States v. Mays" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Eighth Circuit granted the petition for writ of mandamus directing the district court to reinstate petitioner's demand for a jury trial. In this case, the United States filed suit against petitioner and her ex-husband seeking an avoidance of allegedly fraudulent transfers of funds, claiming that petitioner received assets from her spouse through a "sham divorce." The court concluded that petitioner has no other adequate means to attain the relief desired; petitioner has a clear and indisputable right to a jury trial; and the remedy sought is at least partially legal. Accordingly, the court directed the district court to reinstate petitioner's demand for a jury trial. View "In re: Lorraine Brazile" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure