U.S. Eighth Circuit

U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Facebook is not your friend or confidant. It does not keep your secrets. So, it's probably a bad idea to broadcast your potential crimes all over the social network. Too many bungling criminals learn this the hard way, whether it's taunting the police online, posting from stolen electronics, or simply contradicting court testimony.

Brandy Lemons was no different. After Lemons was diagnosed with a pain disorder that limited her activities, she began receiving disability payments from the Social Security Administration. Yet, despite her debilitating condition, Lemons' Facebook showed her hunting game with a bow and riding an ATV.

After a Missouri health care worker was subject to several instances of physical and verbal harassment from a patient, she sued her employer. Chavonya Watson argued that Heartland Health Laboratories created a hostile working environment by failing to protect her from the third party harassment.

The Eighth Circuit, however, was unconvinced. the court found that, even if an employer could be held responsible for a third party, the harassment alleged was too fleeting to have created a hostile work environment, having occurred for just moments at a time.

Not everyone can transition between politics and the silver screen as easily as Arnold Schwarzenegger -- or even Al Franken. Former Arkansas governor and perennial presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hasn't had an easy go of it.

In a case of "I Don't Heart Huckabee," the politician is facing a $5 million class action lawsuit alleging that he violated telemarketing laws by sending millions of prerecorded robocalls promoting the 2012 flop "Last Ounce of Courage." Huckabee's not getting any help from the Eighth Circuit, either, as that court just reversed a district court's dismissal and allowed the suit to go forward.

Julian Mitchell appealed his felon-in-possession charge with a classic argument: his mom was too mentally incompetent to consent to the search of her own house. The Eighth Circuit reviewed the appeal with an appropriate amount of sympathy for the poor guy.

The Eighth Circuit became the latest appellate court to strike down a state law banning abortions before viability last week. The court threw out an Arkansas law banning abortions after 12 weeks, reiterating the requirement that states may not unduly burden a woman's right to choose prior to fetal viability.

However, unlike its sister circuit to the west, the Eighth did not emphasis the arbitrary or burdensome nature of those bans. Rather, it lamented the lack of a scientific record in the case which may allow it to move the line of viability forward and, with a heavy wink and nudge to abortion opponents, discussed how scientific developments might reshape abortion law.

Nebraska Abolishes Death Penalty

Big news from Nebraska! The state legislature voted 30-19 to override the veto of Governor Pete Ricketts, thereby abolishing the death penalty in that state.

Nebraska is the first conservative state in 40 years to abolish the death penalty, The New York Times reported, and the vote cut across party lines.

A $42 million settlement between the National Football League and former players can go ahead following the Eighth Circuit's dismissal of a challenge by six dissenting players. The settlement attempted to bring to an end disagreement over the use of former player's likenesses and identities in promotional films.

A handful of players, led by Jim Marshall, objected to the compromise on the grounds that it did not provide direct payouts to former players, instead giving the millions to a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the health and welfare of retired players. The settlement effected over 25,000 class members -- though some of them might not remember to sign up. Loss of memory due to concussion, as well as other serious ailments, remains endemic among former NFL athletes.

An Iowa woman won't be allowed to withdraw a plea agreement she says she was pressured to accept, the Eighth Circuit ruled yesterday. After a heroin user overdosed and died, a police investigation identified Lacresia White as the decedent's supplier. Following a series of undercover buys, which may have involved White's six year old daughter, police arrested White and charged her with conspiracy to distribute heroin that lead to death.

White accepted a plea deal that would help her avoid a 20 year sentence, but quickly regretted it. That was too late, the Eighth Circuit ruled. Since White could allege no coercion aside from family pressure, she put forward no "fair and just" reason to withdraw her plea.

The NFL Players Association has submitted its briefs to the Eight Circuit regarding the overturned suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended by the NFL after he was accused of physically abusing his son. A district court reversed that suspension, finding that the NFL's domestic abuse policy was new and couldn't be retroactively applied to actions Peterson took in the past.

The NFL's appeal of that ruling is now currently pending in the Eight Circuit. In their filings, the Players Association -- essentially a union for NFL athletes -- argues, unsurprisingly, that the district court was correct in throwing out Peterson's suspension.

Judge Myron Bright has sat on the Eighth Circuit longer than many of those reading this have been alive. For 47 years, Bright has served on the court, continuing to hear cases and author opinions to this day. Needless to say, he's the longest-serving judge in the history of the circuit. At 95 years old, he has no plans to retire anytime soon. Instead, he will continue to hear up to 50 cases this year.

Bright's good friend and then-senator, Quentin Burdick, recommended him for a judgeship to President Lyndon Johnson. According to Bright, LBJ chose him over Robert F. Kennedy for the seat. Over his years on the court, Judge Bright has made significant rulings, particularly in the realm of employment discrimination and environmental law.