Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Mark and Ornella Hammerschmidt were convicted of charges related to their involvement in two schemes to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the Treasury through the IRS. Mark was sentenced to 135 months in prison and Ornella was sentenced to 48 months in prison. The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence, holding that the district court did not make the findings required to increase Mark's offense level for being a manager or supervisor and it should not have assessed criminal history points for a 2008 purged disposition of civil contempt. The court affirmed Ornella's sentence, holding that the district court did not err in applying an enhancement for being in the business of preparing or assisting in the preparation of tax returns. Furthermore, the district court did not err in relying on victim impact statements and Ornella's criminal history. View "United States v. Hammerschmidt" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, 18 U.S.C. 249(a)(1). The court held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on constitutional grounds where Congress rationally determined, in light of the Thirteenth Amendment, that racially motivated violence constitutes a badge and incident of slavery; the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give the proposed jury instruction on character evidence; and the evidence was clearly sufficient to support the conviction. View "United States v. Metcalf" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The court held that defendant's motion to suppress was properly denied where defendant had no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the trash, which had been left for collection in an area accessible to the public; the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction; and defendant's remaining ten arguments in his pro se supplemental brief were without merit. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of defrauding Georgia Pacific, a company that operated a paper mill in Arkansas, by falsely presenting scale tickets for non-existent pulpwood loads that resulted in payments to defendant; the government did not improperly vouch for the credibility of a witness at trial; the district court did not err in giving a deliberate indifference/willful blindness jury instruction; the district court did not err by imposing a two-point sophisticated means enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(10)(C) or a two-level enhancement for defendant's role in the offense under USSG 3B1.1; and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable when compared to the sentence of defendant's co-conspirator. View "United States v. Atkins" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus. Assuming that petitioner enjoyed a constitutional right to choose counsel whom his parents could afford to retain, and that clearly established law precluded an arbitrary denial of a motion to continue that was designed to facilitate that choice of counsel, petitioner could not demonstrate that he was entitled to relief. In this case, the decision of the Arkansas courts was within the range of reasonableness. The court explained that without an identified counsel of choice and a proposed trial date, the benefits of a continuance were too speculative to show the denial of a clearly established right. View "Daniels v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), holding that defendant's previous conviction for Minnesota first degree robbery was a violent felony and a predicate offense under the ACCA. The court reasoned that Minnesota's express requirement that a defendant communicate a threat to overcome resistance or to compel acquiescence necessarily implicated the use of violent force. View "United States v. Libby" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), holding that defendant's previous conviction for Minnesota first degree robbery was a violent felony and a predicate offense under the ACCA. The court reasoned that Minnesota's express requirement that a defendant communicate a threat to overcome resistance or to compel acquiescence necessarily implicated the use of violent force. View "United States v. Libby" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 160 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery. The court found no error, plain or otherwise, in the district court's imposition of defendant's sentence and the sentence was substantively reasonable. In this case, the district court adequately explained the sentence imposed and its deviation from the Guidelines range; considered all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; had substantial latitude to determine how much weight to give the various factors; and was permitted to conclude that the Guidelines failed to adequately account for defendant's prior criminal history and his likelihood to reoffend. View "United States v. Murphy" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 160 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery. The court found no error, plain or otherwise, in the district court's imposition of defendant's sentence and the sentence was substantively reasonable. In this case, the district court adequately explained the sentence imposed and its deviation from the Guidelines range; considered all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; had substantial latitude to determine how much weight to give the various factors; and was permitted to conclude that the Guidelines failed to adequately account for defendant's prior criminal history and his likelihood to reoffend. View "United States v. Murphy" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence, holding that defendant's previous conviction for Oklahoma voluntary manslaughter qualified as a crime of violence under both versions of the Guidelines (2015 and 2016). In this case, defendant was convicted of sex trafficking of a child and sentenced as a career offender. The court explained that the Oklahoma voluntary manslaughter satisfied the generic definition of manslaughter. Furthermore, there was no Ex Post Facto Clause issue as to defendant's sentence and he was properly sentenced as a career offender. View "United States v. Steward" on Justia Law