Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

by
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

by
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

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's above-Guidelines sentence of 60 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering improper factors in determining the sentence. Rather, instead of relying on categorical rules in setting the sentencing, the district court made individualized observations about defendant's past conduct and the need for deterrence in light of defendant's history and personal characteristics. Furthermore, the district court specifically addressed and weighed a number of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Stone" on Justia Law

by
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

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a police encounter that occurred more than four years before he was indicted for misusing a social security number. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant's roommate's consent to enter the apartment was voluntary; the fact that the roommate was under arrest and had not received a Miranda warning did not render the consent involuntary; and agents had reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant was in the country illegally and to seize him by adjuring him to sit in the living room for questioning. View "United States v. Cobo-Cobo" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 188 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing heroin with intent to distribute. The court held that defendant was a career offender under USSG 4B1.1 because his prior conviction for first degree assault in Missouri was a crime of violence. View "United States v. Minnis" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 121 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court considered the mitigating factors, but gave them little weight relative to the other 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. Furthermore, the district court also did not commit a clear error of judgment in weighing the section 3553(a) factors. In this case, the district court did not clearly err by giving great weight to defendant's extensive history of criminal conduct, or by giving little weight to her history of drug addiction and the fact that her previous offenses were all misdemeanors. View "United States v. Ballard" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of five years probation including six months confinement and order of restitution to the Social Security Administration. Defendant pleaded guilty to theft of United States property for knowingly receiving four Social Security disability benefits to which he was not entitled, and the district court applied a six-level sentencing enhancement under 2B1.1(b)(1)(D). The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for leave to file his untimely objections. Furthermore, the motion was futile because he failed to object with specificity and clarity to fact statements in the presentencing report; overpayments began when he became capable of substantial gainful activity, regardless of when he began earning income; and had the district court allowed defendant to raise an untimely objection to the amount of loss, the government could have presented evidence addressing when he was able to engage in substantial gainful activity, when he intended to begin receiving benefits he did not deserve, and how long he intended those benefit thefts to continue. View "United States v. Dokes" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that defendant's prior conviction for burglary under the Illinois statute used a broader definition of "building" than Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990), and thus defendant's conviction did not qualify as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e). Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Byas" on Justia Law

by
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