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

April 2013 Archives

SCOTUS Grants Cert in 8th Cir Drug Overdose Case

Man sells heroin to a drug addict. He goes a wee bit overboard and mixes the Big H with a few other opiates. He dies, the path leads back to "Lil C", the alias of Marcus Burrage. The feds charge Burrage with distributing a controlled substance and distributing a controlled substance leading to death.

The problem here is obvious, isn't it? When a man takes a cocktail of drugs, how can you blame one drug more than the others? The experts sure couldn't. They couldn't differentiate between the amounts of the various opiates, nor could anyone definitively state that the heroin was either a "but for" or "proximate" cause of the man's death. The best they could say was that it was likely a "contributing cause."

Public Defender Jane Kelly Unanimously Confirmed for 8th Circuit

Fifty years after Gideon v. Wainwright, a woman who dedicated her career to the federal public defender's office, and likely passed on many more lucrative paths, has just been unanimously confirmed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Gazette, she is just the second woman and first public defender to serve in the history of the 122-year-old court.

Equally remarkable was the speed with which her nomination was confirmed. While many of President Barack Obama's nominees have stalled in Congress over the last year or two, her appointment was the quickest of Obama's 45 nominees. This was largely due to the bipartisan support of both Iowa Senators Tom Harkin (D) and Chuck Grassley (R).

Recantations, Evidentiary Rules Cloud Sex Abuse Conviction

In 1997, Michael and Cindy Seibel fostered, and then adopted three children, females S.S. and P.S. and a male M.S. The children entered the system after their biological father was convicted of sexually abusing their three older siblings. Though abuse of S.S. and P.S. was also suspected, and noted on the children's South Dakota Medicaid applications, Cindy maintained that they were not sexually abused and they were never provided counseling related to any such abuse.

Sexual abuse reared its ugly head again in 2008, when P.S. and S.S. both disclosed that they had been physically and sexually abused by their adopted father, the defendant Michael Seibel.

Guy Consents to Search of Car for Drugs, Cops Find Child Porn

Even as an experienced attorney (hah - I blog), once in a while, I run across a case synopsis and think - can they do that? This was one of those times.

Douglas Suing isn't suing. He's actually appealing, though many would say that a man convicted of manufacturing and possessing child porn isn't exactly appealing. (Sorry. I'll stop.)

Our Corporate Granpappy Wins Driver's License Info Dispute. Again

Thomson Reuters is a massive, massive company. Among its many, many products are FindLaw.com (that's us!) and West Publishing, whose blue screens of research filled your sleep-deprived nights in law school.

One of West's available products is a driver's license information database. West obtains the information in bulk, from DMVs and third parties, and sells it to end-users for "proper purposes".

Marcy A. Johnson isn't too happy about that practice. She alleged, on behalf of herself and all similarly-situated people in the class, that the act of bulk aggregation of DMV data and the sale of such data violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).

Trucker Supervisor Loses ADA Case, Can't Perform 'Essential Functions'

Jeffrey Knutson excelled as the General Manager of a Home Service food delivery depot. Home Service provides frozen foods to customers' homes or workplaces. He continued being great at his job, even though he suffered a penetrating eye injury in March 2008. Nine months later, he lost his Medical Examiner's Certificate (MEC) and by extension, his Department of Transportation (DOT) qualification.

Home Service gave him 30 days to either obtain a MEC or to find a non-DOT-qualified position at the company. After 30 days, he was fired. He claims that this termination was contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lower court granted summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed - and it wasn't even close.