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

March 2012 Archives

Boys Do Cry: Supreme Ct Denies John Lotter's Death Row Appeal

The United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a Nebraska death row inmate after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the inmate’s conviction in August 2011. The defendant was accused of several murders, including the murder of Teena Brandon, the subject of the 1999 film ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’

Boys don’t cry? Well, one “boy” is crying after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal from death row. John Lotter asked the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal in August 2011. In addition to killing Brandon, Lotter and an accomplice were convicted of killing the witnesses to the murder, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine.

Court Grants Attorneys' Fees in Little Rock Desegregation Case

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit addressed the issue of attorney fees in a long standing desegregation case, awarding legal fees to the prevailing parties.

On March 26, 2012, a panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled again in a case that has been before the courts since 1982. This time, the court didn’t rule on the merits of the case, but on the awarding of attorneys’ fees and costs to the “Joshua Intervenors”, a group of African-American parents who appealed the desegregation practices of the Little Rock School District, reports the Associated Press.

Concealed Bulge Does Not Give Rise to Reasonable Suspicion

Appellee Luis Aquino was first noticed by police officers at a Greyhound rest stop in Omaha, Nebraska. As passengers were being questioned in search of contraband, Aquino appeared nervous and the officers decided to question him, eventually taking him off the bus to search his bags.

As officers searched his bags, he was asked if they could search his person. Aquino responded that he did not want officers to touch him. When officers noticed a bulge on the side of a pant leg, they asked him to lift his pants up. He refused and the officers handcuffed him. They conducted no pat-down but rather, lifted the pants up to find methamphetamine taped to Aquino’s leg and crotch area.

Jewish Prisoner Denied Right to Eat in Observance of Sukkot

When does a prison need to accommodate the right to practice religion in prison? Where do courts draw the line? The Eighth Circuit addressed this question in a decision involving dietary requests and the doctrine of qualified immunity.

So were the First Amendment rights of prisoner Charles E. Sisney violated when he was denied the right to eat his meals in accordance with his Jewish traditions?

According to a March 19 opinion of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the prisoner’s First Amendment free exercise rights were not violated. As such, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, where the district court entered a summary judgment on the prisoner’s pleas for compensatory damages.

8th Affirms Denial of Motion to Suppress by Child Porn Convict

A man convicted of child pornography will have to serve his time in prison. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the child porn conviction and sentence for Kevin McManaman on March 14.

McManaman was sentenced to 276 months in prison after entering a conditional guilty plea on two counts of sexual exploitation of children. On appeal to the 8th Circuit, McManaman argued that the district court should have granted his motion to suppress statements and physical evidence obtained, on the grounds that such evidence was obtained in violation of his Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights.

Autistic Man's Child Porn Sentence OK by 8th Circuit

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part a lower court's decision regarding the sentencing and release conditions of an autistic man, Stephen Morais, who was sentenced by a district court on two counts of receiving child pornography.

Morais' appeal challenged the term of his imprisonment, the imposed fine and two special conditions of his supervised release. On appeal, the 8th Circuit affirmed the term of the sentence, the fine and one of the special conditions. The interesting argument in this case is made regarding Morais' sentence and his propensities for child pornography in light of his diagnosed autism.

8th Circuit Says Cop-Stop Was OK, Won't Suppress Evidence

Should the district court have suppressed the evidence in the felony firearm possession conviction of Tony Robinson?

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said yes, after Robinson challenged the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress the evidence.

The opinion stems from the incidents of September 26, 2009, where Robinson was kicked out of a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas, for engaging in an altercation.

8th Circuit Rules in Favor of White Plaintiff on Reverse Race Bias

Racial discrimination in the workforce is a common claim in employment lawsuits, but last week the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals looked at a case involving reverse race bias.

The appeals court reinstated a jury verdict on the race-bias issue, ruling in favor of a Caucasian school district administrator who alleged that he was the victim of racial discrimination by a majority-black school board in Arkansas.

Aversion to Gang Recruitment Doesn't Support Asylum

Oscar Alexander Granados Gaitan, a native and citizen of El Salvador, entered the United States to escape recruitment into a gang in his home country. Five years later, the U.S. initiated removal proceedings against him. Gaitan sought asylum.

This week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Gaitan didn't qualify as a member of an articulated social group entitled to asylum, and rejected his removal appeal.