Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' conviction of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, and falsifying a record. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for illegal arrest where a reasonable jury could find that another person, the Mayor, conspired with defendant to arrest a mayoral candidate. The court also held that the district court did not plainly err by admitting an unsigned copy of the incident report under the best evidence rule; the district court did not plainly err by permitting hearsay testimony from the Mayor because the Mayor was the coconspirator; the Government's comment during closing was not improper; the district court did not err by responding to the jury's question regarding the charge of falsifying a document; defendant's absence during a jury question about a transcript did not prejudice him; and defendant was not entitled to have the jury review a transcript of the government's witnesses' testimony. View "United States v. Blakeney" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not commit plain error by denying defendant's request for a third level of reduction for acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1(b) where he did not make a sufficiently specific objection to the government withholding the reduction; bad faith was not a basis for the district court to order the government to file a section 3E1.1(b) motion; the government's sole reason for not moving for the third point reduction -- that it had to prepare for a contested sentencing hearing -- was not unconstitutional and was rationally related to a legitimate government interest; and defendant's denial of relevant conduct did not allow the government and the district court to allocate their resources efficiently. View "United States v. Jordan" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition, holding that the district court correctly found that Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), barred the application of the Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). Given the importance of protecting the finality of criminal convictions, the court joined its sister circuits and held that the Teague limit on retroactivity applies to collateral review of both state and federal convictions. The court also held that Teague's bar applied to federal petitioners raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims. View "Barajas v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order of restitution in a case where defendant was convicted of distributing a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The court held that the district court's estimate of future psychological damages, based on the testimony of the victim's mother and the documented expenses already incurred, where not clearly erroneous. The court also held that the evidence before the district court provided a basis to conclude that some of the victim's losses were uniquely caused by defendant distributing the video of her assault. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to award restitution and it did not clearly err in assessing the amount of restitution awarded. View "United States v. Hoskins" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 75 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to wire fraud, use of unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft. The court held that the presentencing report's statement that the scheme involved more than 50 participants was not material to any enhancement under USSG 3B1.1(b), and any error in overruling defendant's objection was harmless. The court also held that the district court properly overruled defendant's objections to the PSR; the district court did not err by finding that she was a manager or supervisor of a criminal activity involving five or more participants where defendant admitted the scheme involved more than 15 participants. Finally, the district court did not err by denying a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1(a). View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 130 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not considering the sentences of other similarly situated defendants. The court explained that, although sentencing-disparity arguments were properly raised to the district court, the court declined to impose a procedural requirement that a district court must compare and contrast the defendant under consideration with a similar offender who has been sentenced by another federal judge. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. McElderry" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the revocation of defendant's supervised release and sentence of 24 months in prison. The court held that the sentence was substantively reasonable, the district court properly imposed the sentence based on multiple violations and the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, and did not procedurally err in varying upwards. View "United States v. Durr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a hearing to determine whether he should be discharged from the Federal Medical Center at Rochester (FMCR). The court held that ample evidence supported the district court's finding that defendant required ongoing commitment at FMCR under 18 U.S.C. 4245(d) for treatment of his schizophrenia. View "United States v. Wedington" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal of his sentence based on the appellate waiver in his plea agreement. Defendant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and was ultimately sentenced to 108 months in prison. Defendant challenged the calculation of his sentencing guidelines range, the substantive reasonableness of the sentence, and certain special conditions of his supervised release. In this case, defendant signed a plea agreement and assented again at the plea hearing. Therefore, he knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to appeal. View "United States v. Cooney" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's claim under 28 U.S.C. 2255, alleging that counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to object to testimony concerning his statement to an agent or to a remark the Government made during closing arguments about his decision not to testify. Petitioner was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sentenced to life in prison. The court held that counsel did not violate petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel by failing to object to the Government's use of his pre-arrest, pre-Miranda statement to the agent. Given the split of authority at the time petitioner was tried, and the complete lack of Eighth Circuit or Supreme Court authority on the subject, counsel's performance fell within the wide range of professionally competent assistance. View "Long v. United States" on Justia Law