U.S. Eighth Circuit

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


In 2012, M.A., an 11 -year-old girl in Nebraska, began to receive unsolicited sexually explicit messages on Facebook from a fictional individual named Bob Shepard. Local law enforcement investigated and soon discovered that Bob Shepard was actually Jeffrey Anderson.

Anderson is M.A.'s half-brother.

An officer took control over M.A.'s Facebook account and, sure enough, Anderson continued with his dark, incestuous fantasizing by sending a sexually explicit image to M.A.'s account. The image, which originally depicted two adults engaged in consensual fornication, had Anderson's half-sister's face superimposed on the adult female's body. The image was captioned: "This is what we will do."

Needless to say, he was arrested, convicted, and given a very long sentence of 120 months. He now argues that his conduct was protected speech under the First Amendment.

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Qualified immunity is the boon of government entities facing civil rights lawsuits under 42 USC § 1983. The hallmark of qualified immunity is that it "provides ample protection to all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." It's designed to shield the government -- which usually ends up meaning "police officers" -- when government agents make honest mistakes about unsettled legal issues.

Now you can add this to the canon of acceptable police practice: Dropping off a questionably drunk man in the middle of the night in freezing weather and hoping everything goes swell.

Spoiler alert: The man died of hypothermia.

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Politics. We can't seem to respect each other's differences when it comes to politics. Some of us are also having a hard time drawing a line between politics and religion. As these issues come up constantly in the news, two cases in the Eighth Circuit bring up these issues.

And in less divisive news, the Eighth Circuit recently upheld a trade dress verdict for Hallmark Cards. Should we send the company a congratulatory card?

Many recent claims of stolen art relate back to Nazi-looted art during World War II -- but not all cases. Many countries, the likes of Turkey and Egypt, with rich cultural heritages are often challenged with the reality of stolen antiquities, and the difficult legal maneuverings needed to repatriate artifacts.

The most recent case involves the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, but was decided on a procedural technicality that has the Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim very upset.

The Eighth Circuit recently denied review of a Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") decision which decided that a lawful permanent resident may be deported on the basis of a drug paraphernalia statute that was related to a controlled substance.

Though the Eighth Circuit aligned itself with many other circuits, the Supreme Court today granted cert to determine whether the government must prove the connection between a state drug paraphernalia conviction and a federally controlled substance.

The controversy stirred up by the botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett in Oklahoma has left states asking -- in my humble opinion -- the wrong question. Rather than reexamining the moral implications of a society that allows the death penalty to exist as a legal means of punishment, states are trying to figure out how to kill people.

Some states are going back to the electric chair, while others ponder the firing squad, reports The Associated Press. So Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is proposing something new -- something akin to a very popular show on AMC about a chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer, which will remain nameless.

Russell Bucklew was on death row and his execution was scheduled for Wednesday, but because of last minute legal maneuvers, was put off.

After a stay was granted, lifted and put back into place, a full Supreme Court decided to grant a stay pending further appeals. Here's a detailed look at the situation.

One week ago, Arkansas became the 22nd state in the United States to give the green light to same sex marriage, says Bloomberg. On Monday, same sex couples waited in line outside county court houses to obtain marriage licenses. But, some counties didn't issue licenses citing confusion.

As parties on both sides of the issue scramble for clarity, one question now remains: will the court's decision be stayed?

The Supreme Court recently granted a petition for writ of certiorari for a case originating in the Eighth Circuit. The case is a classic example of a circuit split.

Essentially, the question before the Court is: What is sufficient notice of a rescission request under the Truth in Lending Act? That is, whether a borrower who intends to rescind a loan under the Truth in Lending Act must file a suit in federal court, or whether a letter to the lender is sufficient.

Vouching for Your Clients -- A $900,000 Mistake

This month, in the case of Gilster v. Primebank, the Eighth Circuit upheld the long-standing rule that lawyers cannot vouch for their clients.

The Facts

This was a sexual harassment case. Plaintiff claimed that Joseph Strub, her supervisor at Primebank in Sioux City, Iowa, made comments about her legs, placed his arm on her shoulders, told her that they should hook up, pressed his pelvis against her backside, massaged her shoulders, and told her to bend over and show more bra to bring in more customers. Defense admitted that when the plaintiff inquired about a bonus in front of colleagues at a meeting, Strubs told her to take out her teeth (she wears dentures), come to his office and close the door.