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Big news from Nebraska! The state legislature voted 30-19 to override the veto of Governor Pete Ricketts, thereby abolishing the death penalty in that state.

Nebraska is the first conservative state in 40 years to abolish the death penalty, The New York Times reported, and the vote cut across party lines.

An Iowa woman won't be allowed to withdraw a plea agreement she says she was pressured to accept, the Eighth Circuit ruled yesterday. After a heroin user overdosed and died, a police investigation identified Lacresia White as the decedent's supplier. Following a series of undercover buys, which may have involved White's six year old daughter, police arrested White and charged her with conspiracy to distribute heroin that lead to death.

White accepted a plea deal that would help her avoid a 20 year sentence, but quickly regretted it. That was too late, the Eighth Circuit ruled. Since White could allege no coercion aside from family pressure, she put forward no "fair and just" reason to withdraw her plea.

Roderick Nunley pleaded guilty to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 15-year-old in 1989. The state court judge sentenced him to death. Nunley had argued, before the Eight Circuit, that his capital sentence was a violation of state and federal precedent, since he was sentenced to death without a jury. According to Nunley, state and federal Supreme Court precedent required a jury sentencing for a death penalty to be permissible.

Not so, ruled the Eighth, which found that Nunley had unequivocally waived his right to a jury sentencing when he plead guilty.

What can you get from two marijuana roaches with leftover weed, blunt paper, cigarillo wrappers, and 2 baggie knots pulled from the trash? No, it's not the worst Christmas present ever -- it's probable cause!

A few scraps of marijuana and paraphernalia recovered after searching through thirteen -- thirteen! -- bags of trash weren't the evidence of crack dealing that cops sought, but they were enough to support a warrant to search the house, the Eighth Circuit ruled on Monday.

The Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders violate the Eight Amendment. The question immediately arose: would juveniles who had received such sentences before the ruling be able to have their sentences revisited?

No, according to the Eighth. Miller does not require courts to revisit sentences given prior to the ruling, the Eighth Circuit held on Monday. Prisoners who were given mandatory sentences of life without parole for crimes they committed as children cannot have those sentences retroactively changed. The case is especially noteworthy, as the Supreme Court granted cert this march on the same issue, in a case arising from Louisiana.

The Eight Circuit has upheld the conviction, on sexual abuse and molestation charges, of a South Dakota man found to have abused several young girls, including his nieces, near the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

Randy Never Misses A Shot had been convicted of five counts of child related sexual abuse. He appealed, arguing, in part, that the court had erred in allowing six witnesses to testify about similar sexual assaults he committed and in refusing to allow him to introduce evidence that one of his alleged victims had been previously molested by others.

The Eight Circuit affirmed his conviction, rejecting his claims.

Ferguson is Burning While Questions Remain About Unusual Grand Jury

Ferguson is burning. The first night's casualties are in: dozens of burned and looted businesses in Ferguson, two police cruisers burned, bottles and rocks tossed at police officers and reporters alike, riots, sixty-one arrests, and more National Guard troops on the way, reports CNN and The New York Times.

And the riots weren't confined to Ferguson: reports of riots and looting popped up in even the most far away places, like Oakland, California, where protestors shut down the I-580 freeway, looted, and set fires as well, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Why? The disputed tale of the death of Michael Brown, alternatively portrayed as an aggressor who attacked a police officer or as the victim of an execution-style murder. After an unusual grand jury featuring "all the evidence" and testimony from Office Darren Wilson, there is no indictment -- only pain, protests, riots, and unanswered questions.

Hopefully, all of us know that jailhouse phone calls are recorded. This presents a problem for attorney/client communications, which are privileged. Iowa has a statute requiring police to inform an arrested suspect in jail of his right to a confidential, in-person conference with his attorney once the suspect requests privacy for the communication.

That didn't happen in the case of David Hellstern. After he was arrested for DUI, an officer denied his request for privacy during a phone call and didn't fulfill his statutory obligation to tell Hellstern he had a right to a private, in-person conference.

Ex-Judges to SCOTUS: Stop Execution of Mo. Man Abandoned by Counsel

It's hard for most people to feel sorry for Mark Christeson. According to The Associated Press, he teamed up with his cousin to rape a mother of two, then, when one of the kids recognized him, Christeson and his cousin murdered the whole family before taking off with their car and electronics.

Of course, there's often more to the story -- murderers don't often emerge from the womb without a conscience. Often, there's mental illness, or some sort of childhood tragedy, that makes you wonder if this person really deserves the death penalty.

Christeson never got the chance to tell that story because his attorneys, who still represent him and refuse to admit fault, missed the habeas deadline. He's scheduled for execution by the State of Missouri at midnight tonight, unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in and grants relief.

Conviction Stands, ACCA Sentence Tossed in Mo. Firearm Case

The police rolled up on Warnell Reid's place to arrest his girlfriend, Earnestine Graham, who had herself violated the terms of her federal supervised release. When they got there, the front door was slightly open and Graham was standing inside in her pajamas. She was quickly arrested without incident, a protective sweep of the house was done (because of the presence of minors), and then she was allowed to change.

When police officers escorted her into the house, they noticed an SKS rifle in plain sight. Graham told police that the rifle belonged to her boyfriend, who himself showed up and was detained moments later. Graham also gave police permission to search the home, which led to the discovery of two more firearms and ammunition.

Reid was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and sentenced to a term of 188 months' imprisonment as an armed career criminal. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit upheld the conviction but vacated the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) sentence.