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

July 2014 Archives

Fake Child Porn of Half-Sister Is Actually a Close Case

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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Ark. Police Granted Qualified Immunity in Man's Hypothermia Death

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.