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

November 2012 Archives

No Need to Prove Underlying Offense for Sentence Enhancement

When a defendant decides to skip town instead of appearing at a change of plea hearing, he might not want to later plead guilty to failure to appear.

It's a calculated risk, of course, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals explains this week why a guilty plea to the latter charge could be a bad idea.

Office Tiff Doesn't Qualify as 'Clear and Detailed' FLSA Complaint

A spat over 10 minutes' pay can turn into a federal appellate case.

Leslie Montgomery worked for Kyle and Kathy Havner at the Havner Law Firm in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Kathy was the office manager for the firm. Beginning early in Montgomery's employment at the firm, Montgomery and Kathy had disagreements about Montgomery's choice of dress, use of Facebook during work hours, and entry into the office after hours.

The disagreements ultimately resulted in Montgomery's termination.

No Preferential Treatment for Unsecured Tax Claims in Chapter 13

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us this week that a Chapter 13 plan can't give special treatment to unsecured, non-priority tax claims.

In 2011, the Debtors filed a petition for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Taxing authorities held unsecured non-priority claims in the Debtors' bankruptcy case. Because of the age of the tax debt and the tardy filing of tax returns for pre-petition years, the tax debt was non-priority debt and a substantial portion of it is non-dischargeable.

Acquiescence or Consent? Court Upholds Warrantless Search

How many times must a person refuse to let the cops search her home?

Des Moines police officers asked to enter Krista Stoekel's home to search for Travis Collins. Stoekel denied knowing Collins, and refused to admit the officers. Twice.

The officers asked to step in and question Stoekel about Collins. She opened the door and said, "You can go no further than the living room." After the cops explained they had an arrest warrant for Collins for a parole violation, and didn't want Stoekel to be in trouble, she became upset, admitted knowing Collins, and conceded that he could have been in her house.

When the cops asked again to confirm whether Collins was in the house, Stoekel said, "Fine."

There's No Fundamental Right to Smoke

Arthur Gallagher is a Clayton, Missouri resident who regularly uses the city's parks and "ecstatically enjoys smoking tobacco products while doing so." Sadly for Gallagher, the Clayton Board of Aldermen enacted an ordinance prohibiting smoking "in or on any property or premises owned or leased for use by the City of Clayton, including buildings, grounds, parks, [and] playgrounds."

The ordinance established several exceptions, including allowing outdoor smoking on "streets, alleys, rights of way and sidewalks other than sidewalks and pedestrian paths in parks," but gave the City Manager discretion to prohibit smoking in these areas during "community events, fairs, festivals, neighborhood events and similar public gatherings."

So much for Gallagher's unbridled nicotine-driven ecstasy.

'She Looked 13' Is Not a Good Defense

When dealing with sentencing enhancements, reality can outweigh perception.

Last week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a district court properly applied a sentence enhancement to a defendant who enticed an 11-year-old to engage in sexual activity, even though he thought she was 13.