Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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After the United States simultaneously prosecuted and removed defendant, he sought to dismiss the indictment. Defendant argued that the Executive Branch violated his rights under the Bail Reform Act (BRA) and the Constitution by simultaneously proceeding with prosecution and removal. The Eighth Circuit held that the BRA and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) co-exist, and that Subsection 3142(d) of the BRA does not conflict with removal under the INA. The court explained that the subsection regulates a "judicial officer," not an Executive Branch official, like an ICE agent; it requires the judicial officer to provide notice and ten-day detention, so immigration officials may detain a non-citizen defendant who poses a risk of flight or danger, but does not mandate that immigration officials detain then and only then; and, if immigration officials do detain then, the subsection does not state that the judicial officer or prosecution must dismiss criminal charges. Furthermore, if the immigration official does not detain within ten days, the non-citizen defendant shall be treated in accordance with the other provisions. The other provisions of the BRA do no preclude removal under the INA. The court rejected defendant's remaining arguments to the contrary. View "United States v. Pacheco-Poo" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendants Pugh and Warren's convictions for drug related crimes and affirmed Pugh's sentence. The court held that the informant's testimony, together with the government's other evidence, was sufficient to support Pugh's convictions; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Pugh's proposed jury instruction; there was no error in admitting under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), a certified copy of Pugh's 2010 information and guilty plea on the Illinois attempted robbery in order to show knowledge and intent; Pugh's Rehaif challenge failed, because sufficient evidence existed such that a reasonable jury could find that Pugh knew of his prohibited status, and because Pugh cannot show a reasonable probability of a different outcome absent the instructional error; and defendant's prior conviction in Illinois for attempted robbery qualifies as a crime of violence for purposes of USSG 2K2.1(a)(4)(a). In regard to Warren's challenges, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of two prior convictions to prove knowledge and intent, and Warren's Rehaif challenge failed for the same reasons as Pugh's Rehaif claim. View "United States v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction as a career offender under USSG 4B1.1 based on his controlled substance convictions in Illinois and in Iowa. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that defendant's Iowa and Illinois controlled substance convictions qualified as predicates for career offender sentencing. The court declined to find that the Illinois and Iowa statutes are categorically not career-offender predicates because they include the word "deliver," which may not involve a commercial activity; the Illinois and Iowa convictions are not overbroad; and defendant's remaining claims to the contrary were rejected. View "United States v. Clayborn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possessing a firearm, possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possessing a stolen firearm. The court held that there was no error in admitting eyewitness identification evidence, because the show-up identification was not impermissibly suggestive and the identification was reliable; the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to instruct the jury on eyewitness identification where the government's case did not rest solely on questionable eyewitness identification; there was no Sixth Amendment violation of defendant's right to counsel where the district court allowed defendant to give his own closing argument, defendant was still represented by counsel and received advice, there was no duty to conduct a Faretta hearing, and defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel; and the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction. View "United States v. Heard" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. The court held that the district court's application of the sentencing guidelines did not result in impermissible double-counting. In this case, by considering the December 2017 drug quantity under USSG 2D1.1, while also considering defendant's December 2017 supervised release status under USSG 4A1.1(d), the district court did not penalize defendant twice for the same conduct. Rather, the court explained that the district court evaluated the seriousness of the offense and defendant's criminal history. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of pretrial arrestees who were detained in St. Louis jails, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, challenging the constitutionality of the procedures by which defendants, state and city officials, set money bail. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of plaintiffs' motion for class certification and entry of a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of any monetary condition of release resulting in detention. In this case, the district court resorted to the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief without adequately considering the new rules and their implementation. The district court abused its discretion by interjecting the power of the federal government into the Missouri Supreme Court's attempt to police its own lower courts, without contemplating what this would mean for federal-state relations. On remand, the district court should consider the effect of the rule changes on the question of whether a preliminary injunction served the public interest in comity between the state and federal judiciaries, as well as the necessity of an injunction. View "Dixon v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's revocation of supervised release for a Grade A violation for possession of heroin and three Grade C violations for disobeying the probation office. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to find that defendant committed the Grade A violation of possession of heroin by a preponderance of the evidence; the district court did not plainly err in denying defendant's due process rights by admitting evidence unrelated to a violation in the petition for revocation of supervised release; and, even if defendant's due process rights were violated, he failed to show how further disclosure would have helped him. View "United States v. Burrage" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for illegal gun possession. The court held that, under the totality of the circumstances, the police officers had probable cause to arrest defendant. Furthermore, defendant's age, intelligence, sobriety, and experience with the criminal justice system, coupled with his Miranda warning, supported a finding that he voluntarily consented to a cheek swab for a DNA sample. Therefore, the district court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress the DNA evidence. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of the synthetic marijuana evidence, because it made it more likely that defendant knew of and possessed the firearm. Finally, the court rejected defendant's argument under Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), and held that it was not reasonably probable that, if the government had to prove defendant's knowledge of a previous conviction for "a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year," he would have been acquitted. View "United States v. Welch" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for one count of felon in possession of a firearm, two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, one count of maintaining a premise for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence seized after a warrantless protective sweep under the plain view doctrine; defendant failed to show that the government deleted any exculpatory evidence; defendant validly waived his right to proceed with a jury trial; and the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to proceed pro se. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's revocation of defendant's supervise release, holding that the district court denied him the right to confront the key witness against him at his revocation hearing. The court held that the government failed to provide a reasonably satisfactory explanation for not producing the witness and failed to show that the witness's recorded police statement was inherently reliable. Finally, denying defendant the opportunity to confront the witness was not harmless. The court declined to remand to the district court for a new hearing without providing the government the opportunity to expand the record and bring in live testimony from the witness. View "United States v. Timmons" on Justia Law