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Civil Rights, Criminal and Employment Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on April 15, 2010 1:34 PM

In US v. Johnson, No. 09-1407, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's firearm possession conviction, on the ground that the lateness of the hour, the van blocking the alley with its engine running, a woman in the middle seat of the van putting on clothing, and defendant moving quickly from the middle seat to the driver seat and attempting to drive away upon arrival of the squad car, provided justification for an investigatory stop.  However, the court reversed defendant's sentence, holding that defendant's prior Minnesota conviction for fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle did not qualify as a violent felony.

Zutz v. Nelson, No. 09-1462, concerned an action by members of the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District Board alleging state law defamation and violations of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against other Board members and related persons.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that 1) plaintiffs anchored their case against defendants on the same defamatory statements that formed the basis of a prior state-court action; and 2) the complaint did not adequately allege that defendants deprived plaintiffs of a constitutionally protected federal right.

Blankenship v. USA Truck, Inc., No. 09-1605, involved an action alleging that defendant owed plaintiff more than $1 million in unpaid sales commissions, and to invalidate a prior settlement agreement between the parties.  The court of appeals reversed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that the district court ignored governing precedent from the Arkansas Supreme Court when holding the no-reliance clause barred plaintiff's fraud claim.

In US v. Lopez-Mendoza, No. 09-2189, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's drug possession conviction, holding that 1) an officer does not seize a person by asking for license and registration if he does not convey a message that compliance with his request is required; and 2) the officer did not exceed the scope of defendant's consent by reasonably searching the car for drugs.

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