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The 4th Amendment: Still Alive and Kicking in the 8th

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals breathed a bit of life into our republic on April 19 as it decided in a divided opinion, of course that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure is still with us despite the imminent threat of ... money?

In 2010, Carlos Martins was driving his pickup just west of Omaha, Nebraska when Deputy David Wintle pulled him over because his license plate was "obstructed" in violation of Nebraska Revised Statute § 60-399(2). And by "obstructed," Wintle means that he had to get within 100 feet of it to be able to read the very bottom, where it said "Utah." It's undisputed that the rest of the license plate was completely clear.

8th Cir. Clarifies 401(k) Float Income Ownership, Fiduciary Duties

The Eighth Circuit recently issued a decision in a 401(k) fiduciary lawsuit that is raising questions about "float income" -- interest earned from plan assets.

At issue is the handling of funds that flow into and out of 401(k) plans and the question of who profits from the float income generated while the money is held by a service provider -- in this case, Fidelity Investments -- before its investment or before it is it cashed by participants.

If you're in the retirement plan industry, you might want to take a look at the court's decision in Ronald C. Tussey v. ABB Inc.

Fremont Votes to Ban Hiring, Renting to Undocumented Immigrants

The town of Fremont, Nebraska voted to uphold an ordinance prohibiting employers and landlords from hiring or renting to undocumented immigrants.

The measure, approved in 2010, survived a constitutional challenge before the Eighth Circuit.

Despite staving off a slew of legal challenges and passing yet again by popular vote, the ban may not be free from legal scrutiny just yet.

5 Fish Poaching Indictments Dismissed, Creating Sea of Confusion

A federal judge in Minneapolis recently tossed the indictments of five American Indians arrested in a major fish poaching bust on Indian reservations in northern Minnesota. The judge ruled the men were protected under an 1837 treaty.

But another federal judge in the same district came to the exact opposite conclusion -- even though the case was borne from the same undercover investigation.

The Eighth Circuit may have to get on board, get its feet wet on the issue, and reel in a solution to this extraordinary split.

Government Gives Up Fight For Stripper's $1M, But Why?

The California stripper who had $1 million seized by a Nebraska state trooper during a traffic stop will get to keep her mega moola. On Tuesday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the U.S. Attorney's Office in Omaha's motion to dismiss its own appeal of a federal judge's order to return the $1 million (plus interest!) to the exotic dancer, Tara Mishra.

Why did the government give up the fight? It's anyone's guess, as the government is keeping mum.

Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Fremont May Change Illegal Immigrant Housing Ban

The Fremont City Council will soon consider removing portions of the city's ban on renting housing to people who aren't in the U.S. legally.

Fremont voters approved the city ordinance in 2010 that prohibits hiring or renting to people who can't prove they are in the country legally. The hiring portion is in effect, but the housing provision has been delayed due to protracted litigation over the controversial section.

Despite staving off a slew of legal challenges, the city itself is now reconsidering the ordinance due to financial concerns.

Florence, Minnesota really doesn't want your dirty, salacious strip club. When a businessman attempted to open The Juice Bar, a non-alcoholic adult entertainment venue, the town banned all commercial business through zoning regulations. Yes, all business.

According to the Eighth Circuit, banning the strip club and all other businesses from operating within city limits was entirely constitutional, especially since the town is only 0.27 square miles.

Postnup Does Not Waive Spousal Rights to 401(k), 8th Cir. Says

When you sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in which you agree not to be the beneficiary of a 401(k) retirement plan, does that extinguish your spousal rights to it?

To the surprise of divorced couples and family law attorneys alike, the Eighth Circuit has ruled that no, it does not extinguish your rights. You still may have a right to the 401(k).

In its decision, the appeals court ruled that a postnuptial agreement in which each party expressed "irrevocable consent" to a change of beneficiary of the other's retirement plan did not constitute a waiver of the spousal right to benefit from such plans.

Court Says Natural Gas Rights Don't Flow with Coal Rights

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week on whether or not the holders of coal rights had a right to natural gas from the mine as well.

The case involves a mine in Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Show Me the Note: Borrower Loses Note Possession Foreclosure Challenge

Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but it’s unnecessary for a bank in Minnesota to possess a promissory note when it commences foreclosure.

Kenath Stein challenged the validity of both the foreclosure of his home by Chase Home Finance (Chase), and the redemption of his home by National City Bank (National), a junior lienholder. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the banks this week.