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

December 2012 Archives

'Irresistible Attraction' Ruling Based on 8th Cir Decision

You’ve probably heard about it by now: Last week, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled that an employer could fire an employee for being too attractive. According to the state court, such conduct “does not amount to unlawful sex discrimination” under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

What you may not realize is that the controversial decision is consistent with a 2006 employment law ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

Alleged Fraudster Gets Second Shot at Sequestration Challenge

If you don’t think a witness sequestration violation is a big deal, think again. It could be cause for a new trial.

A jury found Marc Robert Engelmann guilty of bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Engelmann moved for a new trial, arguing that a conversation between two government witnesses during trial, in contravention of a sequestration order, violated his rights to a fair trial and to effective assistance of counsel.

According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the sequestration violation was worth a look.

Scienter Requirement Applies to Each Statutory Element in Rape

There aren't many rape cases in the federal courts, so we rarely write about rape appeals. That's probably a good thing, because we get kinda angry when a defendant concedes that he had sex with the victim, and then gets a new trial.

This is one of those anger-inducing cases.

According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a man who had sex with a completely blitzed woman deserves a new trial because the jury wasn't properly instructed on mens rea.

'Highly Probative' Sexpert Questioning Doesn't Warrant Mistrial

There's really no nice way to say this: Ted Grauer's expert witness got pwned on cross-examination.

Grauer was on trial for attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity after soliciting 14-year-old "Jenny" — who, in reality, was Deputy Sheriff Jessup Schroeder — for sex in the Iowa Romance chatroom.

Grauer's "human sexuality expert," Dr. James Herriot, told the court that "Internet chatrooms ... are primarily an entertainment medium where adults engage in fantasy "age-play," often "a naughty schoolgirl" and older man scenario. Herriot explained that he had reviewed the chat transcripts between Grauer and "Jenny" and they had many of the signatures of adult age-play.

USERRA: Termination is a Valid Reemployment Position

After returning from his third military leave of absence, Douglas Milhauser learned that he had lost his job at Minco Products, Inc. Since federal law mandates that returning veterans be reemployed in an "appropriate position," Milhauser sued.

Minco argued at trial that Milhauser work performance had been poor, and it was forced to reduce its workforce after a bad year. The company asserted that changed circumstances had made reemploying him impossible or unreasonable. In the alternative, the company claimed that it had not failed to place Milhauser in the proper reemployment position because he would have been terminated even if he had not left for service.

The district court ruled for Minco. This week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

University Stiffs Can't Take a Joke, Win Qualified Immunity

Things that we learned from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals this week:

  1. You can get a degree in funeral science.
  2. Your Facebook status could be cause for termination from a funeral science teaching gig.
  3. The school that fires you for your Facebook status might be entitled to qualified immunity.