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Civil Rights, Criminal and Employment Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on February 24, 2010 9:26 AM

The Eighth Circuit decided four criminal matters, one civil rights case and one employment discrimination case.

In Polson v. Bowersox, No. 08-3919, petitioner appealed from the district court's dismissal of his habeas petition as untimely.  The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that the statute of limitations was tolled during the pendency of petitioner's petition for relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 91, and thus, petitioner's federal habeas petition was timely.

Murray v. Lene, 09-1198, was a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging an unlawful seizure.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed in part the dismissal of the complaint, holding that 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's remaining state law claims; 2) plaintiff's conspiracy claim failed because the complaint failed to allege a "meeting of the minds" among the alleged conspirators; and 3) recklessness could be inferred from the omission of information from an affidavit only when the material omitted would have been clearly critical to the finding of probable cause.

Ernster v. Luxco, Inc., No. 09-1200, was an age discrimination action in which plaintiff appealed from judgment for defendant after trial.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed on the grounds that 1) the district court's instruction, taken as a whole in light of the evidence and the Darden standard, fairly and adequately submitted the issue to the jury of whether plaintiff was an employee or an independent contractor; and 2) a reasonable jury could have found that plaintiff was an independent contractor.

In US v. Lowry, No. 09-1514, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for failing to register as a sex offender, holding that the district court properly followed the process unambiguously set forth in the Guidelines and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act by comparing defendant's underlying Illinois conviction to the crimes listed in 42 U.S.C. section 16911(4)(A)(i).

In US v. Molina-Perez, No. 09-1611, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiring to manufacture marijuana and maintaining a place to manufacture marijuana, on the grounds that 1) there were sufficient grounds on which the jury could find defendant guilty of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt; 2) a singular, benign reference to homicide that did not link defendant to the deaths and in no way caused him to suffer prejudice did not require a mistrial; and 3) the government provided sufficient evidence with which the district court could find that defendant maintained a leadership role in the offense.

In King v. US, No. 09-2212, the Eighth Circuit vacated the denial of defendant's motion to reduce his drug possession sentence, holding that, because a conviction was not a "prior felony" within the meaning of U.S.S.G. section 4B1.1 unless it received criminal history points under subsection (a), (b), or (c) of section 4A1.1, and it was uncertain whether defendant's convictions for resisting arrest received points under one of those subsections, the rule of lenity resulted in a shorter sentence.

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