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


Judge Strikes Campaign-Finance Enforcement Law

Enforcement provisions of Colorado's campaign finance law are unconstitutional, a federal judge said.

Judge Raymond Moore said the enforcement provisions, which empower private citizens to file complaints over campaign finance issues, violate protections for political speech. With that decision in Holland v. Williams, the judge will likely issue a permanent injunction against the state.

According to reports, the ruling has major implications for state politics. It may not matter beyond Colorado, however, because it is the only state in the nation with such private-enforcement laws.

Court Upholds $28 Million Award for 'Beatrice Six'

DNA evidence can cut both ways -- for conviction or exoneration.

In one Nebraska case, it cut deep for exoneration. Six defendants were wrongfully imprisoned for another man's crime before DNA evidence freed them.

But the "Beatrice Six" got their payback when a trial court handed them a $28 million judgment against a small Nebraska County. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was an "obvious case" and affirmed in Dean v. Searcey.

For one criminal defendant, the reaction of a drug dog was the tipping point that gave law enforcement probable cause for the dog's sniff search, at least according to the Eighth Circuit.

That sniff search was successful in locating a few kilograms of cocaine, which resulted in the defendant taking a conditional plea of guilt to a drug trafficking charge, pending resolution of an appeal of his motion to suppress. And in the United States v. Javier Pulido-Ayala, the Eighth Circuit rejected that defendant's appeal on his Fourth Amendment challenge to the drug dog's sniff search.

Sad news broke last week that federal appeals court judge, Diana Murphy, passed away. She was reportedly not in good health, and was at home last Wednesday when it happened.

Judge Murphy, who was 84 years-old, will be remembered as a legal pioneer. When she was appointed in 1994, she was the first woman justice to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was still on the bench until her passing, just on senior status. She had planned to fully retire this coming July.

TD Ameritrade Securities Cases Get Kicked Back

A "bung," in the English vernacular, is a payment made to someone to do something dishonest.

Like "kickback," it has its origins in football. Some speculate it started with cheating in exchange for "snuff, moustache wax and several pints of pale ale."

Some two hundred years later, a kickback and a bung seem wrong by any definition. In any case, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said three kickback cases based on state laws certainly don't belong in federal court.

City May Be Liable for 'Pay-to-Play' Bail

'My way or the highway,' says the Riverfront Times.

That's how the newspaper describes the situation over traffic fines in the city of Maplewood, a small suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The city makes drivers pay a bond or go to jail when they're ticketed.

"Pay-to-play" bail is business as usual in many municipal courts, but the cities could have a problem. In Webb v. City of Maplewood, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals says the city may be liable for giving drivers nothing more than a "Hobson's choice."

The federal district court in Missouri refused to dismiss a potential class action case against Dr. Pepper and Snapple over the claim that Canada Dry Ginger Ale is "Made from Real Ginger."

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, Arnold Webb, sent out Canada Dry Ginger Ale for testing, which discovered that the soda did not actually contain any real ginger. The lawsuit not only claims that Webb would not have purchased the ginger ale had he known it didn't contain any ginger, it states that the company was unjustly enriched because "he was induced into purchasing the product and did not obtain the full value of the benefit conferred on defendants." Though seemingly light-hearted, this case contains some spicy fraud allegations.

What Happens If a Juror Says 'Guilty' in a Crowded Elevator?

So many things seem to go wrong for criminal defendants on trial, especially when they point out the errors on appeal.

Sandra Bart made her case to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals after her conviction in United States of America v. Bart. Along with her claims of insufficient evidence, abuse of discretion and denial of motions, she complained of juror misconduct.

And why not blame the jury? One of the jurors apparently told others in the courthouse elevator that Bart was guilty.

Superheated Hormel Bacon Case Is Done

A federal appeals court sent both parties packing in a battle over precooked bacon.

It was a big deal, too, as bacon prices have continued to climb. In HIP, Inc. v. Hormel Foods Corporation, the litigation was about who owned a process for superheating bacon.

Both parties appealed summary judgments dismissing their claims, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. That's right, nobody took home the bacon.

Court: Zoo Animals Protected by Endangered Species Act

A federal appeals court said a family-owned zoo violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to care properly for its tigers and lemurs.

In Kuehl v. Sellner, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision to send several exotic animals at the zoo to a better facility. It was a victory for animal rights activists, who said the decision means endangered species living in captivity deserve the same care as animals in the wild.

But the appeals court also denied their request for $239,979 in attorneys fees. In other words, taking care of tigers and lemurs can be very expensive.