Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari, vacated the district court's judgment, and remanded for further consideration in light of Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016). The Eighth Circuit applied the categorical approach and held that petitioner's prior conviction for use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3) is not a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The court held that section 924(c)(3) is not divisible where a judge decides whether an underlying offense constitutes a crime of violence, and the definition of crime of violence as it is used in section 924(c)(1) is contained in a separate statutory section, section 924(c)(3). Furthermore, petitioner's substantial rights were affected. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in applying a four-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(6)(B). Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. Boman" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that plaintiff was arrested in violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights, as well as the statute authorizing the arrest. Plaintiff was participating in a highway overpass protest when he was arrested for not following a state trooper's orders to disperse from a crowd. The court held that qualified immunity protected State Trooper Jenkins from First Amendment damages because he had no reason to know, based on preexisting law, that his order was unlawful; qualified immunity also protected Jenkins from the Fourth Amendment damages claim; the statute authorizing arrest, 43.170 RSMo, did not violate the First Amendment by being overbroad; 43.170 RSMo was not unconstitutional as applied to plaintiff nor on its face for being unconstitutionally vague; and plaintiff presented no facts to support his request for an injunction and declaratory relief. View "Weed v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of excessive force claims in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action filed by the estate of Fallon Frederick. Frederick was shot and killed by an officer when she charged another officer with a knife. The court agreed with the district court that the officers were objectively reasonable in tasing Frederick and then shooting her when she charged them, and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate Frederick's clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that existing precedent did not place "beyond debate" that the officers violated Frederick's Fourth Amendment rights when they discharged a taser at Frederick in these circumstances. View "Frederick v. Motsinger" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition and motion to reconsider. The court rejected petitioner's Brady claims, holding that there was no agreement that a witness and the state entered into that the government could have failed to disclose; assuming the state's decision to make relocation payments to a witness was Brady information, its nondisclosure did not undermine confidence in the verdict; petitioner defaulted any claims that he may have had concerning the witness's testimony regarding a gun used in the crime; and because petitioner failed to show that the district court clearly erred in finding that no "non-prosecution" agreement existed, the state did not suppress any information in violation of Brady. The court also rejected petitioner's argument that the district court failed to consider the cumulative effect of the suppression of Brady materials. View "Kennell v. Dormire" on Justia Law

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An administrative panel's denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction typically is the law of the case, ordinarily to be adhered to in the absence of clear error or manifest injustice. After the Eighth Circuit affirmed petitioner's sentence for a drug offense, he then filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The district court denied the motion, but granted a certificate of appealability. Seeing no error or manifest injustice, the court proceeded to the merits of the case and held that, because petitioner made the same Rule 11 argument in his direct appeal, the court declined to relitigate the issue; petitioner has not shown that the government's silence regarding a twelve-year sentence amounted to a promise that induced him to plead guilty; and defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed because he failed to point to sufficient contemporaneous evidence to support his post hoc assertion that he would not have pleaded guilty absent his attorney's advice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's section 2255 motion. View "Thompson v. United States" on Justia Law

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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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 as time-barred. The court held that the state did not knowingly and intelligently waive its statute-of-limitations defense; the district court properly analyzed the state's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) in analyzing whether to address the state's statute-of-limitations defense; the court rejected petitioner's claim that the district court incorrectly applied 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A) as the trigger for his one-year limitations period; petitioner was not entitled to tolling under section 2244(d)(1)(B); the district court did not fail to toll the statute of limitations for any time during which petitioner's application was "pending" and thus his habeas petition was not timely filed under section 2244; and, whether or not the court applied the stop-clock approach, petitioner was not eligible for equitable tolling. View "Coulter v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law, alleging claims related to the Township Board's decision to install a culvert and to refund leftover grant money to FEMA without holding public meetings. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment retaliation claim where the district court concluded that the facts viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs established that the individual defendants retaliated against plaintiffs for exercising their First Amendment rights; affirmed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment association claim where the district court concluded that the individual defendants violated Plaintiff Mary Lee's right to freedom of association by excluding her from Township Board meetings despite her elected role as Township Board Clerk; and reversed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment right to petition claim where there was no First Amendment right to participate in a non-public government meeting as a member of the public. In regard to the cross-appeal, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the free speech claim. View "Lee v. Driscoll" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for MJ Optical in plaintiff's suit alleging that she was the victim of sex discrimination, age discrimination, and a hostile work environment. The court held that plaintiff did not suffer an adverse employment action and thus her claims for disparate treatment on the basis of sex failed. Likewise, plaintiff's claim of age discrimination failed because she could not maintain a claim for disparate treatment on account of her age. Finally, plaintiff's hostile work environment claim failed because she did not indicate in a timely manner the complained-of conduct was unwelcome. View "Blake v. MJ Optical, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition, holding that his prior Wisconsin conviction for battery of a law enforcement officer constituted a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1). In this case, the Wisconsin conviction necessarily involved the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another. View "Jones v. United States" on Justia Law