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Have No Fear, New Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Are Here

On Sunday, December 1st, 2013, a handful of amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure are scheduled to go into effect. The most significant change entails consolidation of Rule 28.

Here's a summary of the changes:

Government Shutdown? No Problem! 8th Cir. Is Open for Business

When October 17th rolls around, if the judiciary funding is exhausted due to the government shutdown, the Eighth Circuit will still keep its doors open.

As we've discussed before, federal courts are financially running on fumes, trying to maintain operations set at the minimum required for Article III obligations.

But the Eighth Circuit is holding sown the fort. Chief Judge William Jay Riley entered an order last week declaring that "the work of all Eighth Circuit Court Staff is necessary and essential to support the exercise of the Court's Article III judicial power," according to the memo released by Clerk of Court Michael E. Gans.

'Younger' But Wiser? SCOTUS to Hear Sprint v. Jacobs

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to a fee dispute case that sprung from the Eighth Circuit between a Sprint Nextel Corp. subsidiary and the utilities regulator in Iowa, reports Reuters.

But it's not actually about fees.

Central to the dispute is whether the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in applying the abstention doctrine set forth by Younger v. Harris. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the Younger abstention is warranted when there is a related state proceeding that is "remedial" as opposed to "coercive," rejecting a distinction between the two.

Judge Orders New Trial in '95 Slaying of Teen, May Reach 8th Cir.

In an unorthodox move, a federal judge has ordered a new trial for an Iowa state prisoner convicted in the brutal 1995 murder of a northwestern Iowa teenager.

While state prosecutors appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett resurrects a case that ignited tensions between whites and Hispanics and led to crackdowns on illegal immigration, reports The Associated Press.

Alleged Fraudster Gets Second Shot at Sequestration Challenge

If you don’t think a witness sequestration violation is a big deal, think again. It could be cause for a new trial.

A jury found Marc Robert Engelmann guilty of bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Engelmann moved for a new trial, arguing that a conversation between two government witnesses during trial, in contravention of a sequestration order, violated his rights to a fair trial and to effective assistance of counsel.

According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the sequestration violation was worth a look.