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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's post-trial motion for judgment of acquittal or new trial and sentence of three months in prison for harboring or concealing a person from arrest. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that defendant assisted the criminal by providing shelter while he was hiding from law enforcement and that she intended to prevent his discovery and arrest. In this case, defendant's delay in allowing the officers to enter and search the house, regardless of its duration, together with her false statements to investigators, support a finding that she intentionally harbored and concealed the criminal. The court rejected defendant's alternative contention that the district court abused its discretion in denying the motion for new trial. Finally, it was not a miscarriage of justice to convict her when a jury acquitted a codefendant. View "United States v. Waloke" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 to petitioner, who was convicted of four counts of capital murder and sentenced to death on each count. The court held that trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective for failing to adequately investigate and present mitigating evidence related to petitioner's childhood abuse, fetal-alcohol exposure, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In this case, counsel satisfied his obligation under Strickland v. Washington and his decision not to interview distant family members was reasonable. Counsel conducted a thorough investigation and reasonably decided to pursue a theory of imperfect self-defense. Furthermore, counsel's decision to hire an expert to evaluate the effect of petitioner's abusive childhood on his mental health was reasonable in the circumstances and counsel did not fail to act while potentially powerful mitigating evidence stared him in the face. View "Kemp v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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After a fire seriously damaged the insureds' home, the insurer paid for their total property damage and then brought a diversity action against Entergy, alleging that the utility's equipment caused the fire. The insurer alleged subrogation claims for damages in excess of the amount paid for the damage. Although the district court erred in determining that the insurer did not have standing, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Entergy's motion for judgment as a matter of law because the insurer failed to prove that the insureds were made whole either before or during this lawsuit. Therefore, a reasonable jury could not have found that the insurer proved an essential element of its subrogation claim. View "EMC Insurance v. Entergy Arkansas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that probable cause supported the issuance of a warrant to place a GPS tracker on defendant's vehicle; the district court did not err by denying defendant's request for a Franks hearing or his request to compel the disclosure of the identities of confidential informants and tipsters; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the crimes; and the district court properly admitted statements from defendant's recorded post-arrest phone calls as evidence of the direct consciousness of guilt. View "United States v. Bradley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to the receipt, possession, and attempted distribution of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not procedurally err by imposing a life term of supervised release, because the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors to both defendant's terms of imprisonment and supervised release. Furthermore, the district court's brief explanation of defendant's sentence, including the term of supervised release, was not plainly erroneous. The court also affirmed the special conditions of supervised release, holding that the prohibition on possessing pornographic materials, restrictions on possession of a computer or like device, and restrictions on creation of a social media account on sites which allow access by minors or exchange of sexually-explicit materials did not result in greater deprivation of liberty than reasonably necessary. Although the district court plainly erred by failing to make any effort to support the challenged conditions (or any other special condition) with individualized findings, the reasons for the challenged conditions were sufficiently evident from this record. View "United States v. Carson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for Hobbs Act robbery, brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm as a previously convicted felon. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a video of defendant wearing clothing worn by the person who committed the armed robbery, because the evidence was relevant and tended to make it more probable that defendant committed the robbery. Therefore, the evidence was properly admitted as relevant non-character evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 401 and 402. Likewise, still photos showing defendant wearing the clothing were properly admitted. The court also held that a Hobbs Act robbery is a crime of violence for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Consequently, the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to dismiss the charge of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. View "United States v. Conner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed police officers' interlocutory appeal of the district court's order denying summary judgment based on qualified immunity in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action brought by plaintiff, alleging violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as common law rights. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction over the officers' appeal because there were questions of material fact as to plaintiff's consent, whether the seizure of Syn incense was in plain view, and whether the administrative search exception applied to a warrantless search in 2012. View "Riggs v. Gibbs" on Justia Law

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Defendants House and Van Pelt appealed their sentences imposed after pleading guilty to numerous counts related to their participation in a large scale methamphetamine distribution scheme. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' sentences, holding that the district court did not plainly err by conducting a 21 U.S.C. 851(b) inquiry. In this case, defendants failed to show that there was a reasonable probability that their sentences would be different if the district court had engaged in the section 851(b) colloquy. Nor did they show that their prior conviction was invalid or that their rights were otherwise affected. The court also held that House failed to show that any of the three purported Rule 11 errors affected his decision to plead guilty, and thus failed to satisfy the third prong of the plain error standard. Finally, the district court did not err by calculating the drug quantity attributable to Van Pelt, and by applying a leadership role enhancement to his sentence under USSG 3B1.1(c). View "United States v. House" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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FTN filed suit against the City, alleging that its indecent exposure ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the City and held that Ways v. City of Lincoln, 331 F.3d 596 (8th Cir. 2003) was controlling in this case. In Ways, this court upheld an ordinance prohibiting the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering on any part of the areola and nipple against an equal protection challenge. In this case, like in Ways, the City's ordinance was substantially related to its important governmental interests in promoting public decency and proscribing public nudity to protect morals, public order, health, and safety. View "Free the Nipple - Springfield Residents Promoting Equality v. City of Springfield" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LM General in an uninsured motorists (UM) coverage dispute. The district court concluded that there was no UM coverage because any liability of the uninsured motorist and his occupants to plaintiff did not arise out of the use of the uninsured motor vehicle. The court held that Missouri law requires UM coverage whenever an uninsured motorist is liable for injury to the insured arising out of the motorist's use of his uninsured auto. In this case, the injuries inflicted on a victim of a drive-by shooting by the occupant of a motor vehicle were not injuries which arise out of the "use" of the motor vehicle because the motor vehicle was merely the "situs" or "locus" of the cause of the victim's injuries and the discharge of the gun was unconnected to the inherent use of the motor vehicle. View "Patel v. LM General Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law