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

January 2013 Archives

ACCA Bonus Points For Murder, Arson, Burglary Felony Hat-Trick?

Bryan Chappell meets anyone’s reasonable definition of a career criminal. His past accomplishments include arson, murder, burglary, at least one drug offense, possessing counterfeit currency, and of course, being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The law, though, cares little of what we think, unless, of course, we are the judge or jury. The relevant question is, has he committed the requisite three prior felonies necessary to trigger an Armed Career Criminals Act sentencing enhancement?

The answer isn’t exactly “duh,” but it’s pretty close.

Breach of Contract, Confidential Info Leak Case: Hallmark Prevails

In 2002, Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Janet Murley parted ways. She had served as the vice-president of marketing and was responsible for product and business development, advertising, and research, and by extension, had access to confidential business plans, market research, and other internal information.

When she was let go, she was paid a severance of $735,000, 18 months of paid COBRA insurance, paid tax preparation for 2 years, and was given executive outplacement services. In exchange, she agreed to not work in the greeting card industry for 18 months, solicit Hallmark employees, disclose or use any propriety or confidential Hallmark information, or retain any Hallmark records or documents. She also waived any claims against Hallmark arising from her termination.

Summary Judgment Reversed in Creighton Medical School ADA Case

Michael Argenyi has a serious hearing impairment. He’s also a medical student at Creighton Medical School in Omaha, Nebraska. Before medical school, he handled academics like a boss. His undergraduate GPA was a 3.87.

What was the secret to his success? Besides the obvious factors, like intelligence and hard work, he received reasonable accommodations to facilitate his education. Beginning in eighth grade, he began using Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART), a system that transcribes the speaker’s words and displays them on a computer screen.

Eighth Circuit Says Cops Don't Have to Test the Ice

Juan Daniel Lugo pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess methamphetamine and marijuana with intent to distribute. The district court sentenced him to a prison term of 240 months. Lugo later challenged his sentence based on the government's failure to test the substance for which he was sentenced.

So was it "ice" or some knock-off meth-mix? According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, it doesn't matter.

Special Needs Students Must Settle For Good, Not Great Education

FAPE. It’s not an urban clothing brand. It’s a Free Appropriate Public Education. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), school districts have to provide a FAPE to special needs children using an annually revised Individualized Education Plan (IEP) tailored to the child’s unique needs. If they are unable to do so, the parents can enroll the child in another facility at the district’s cost.

L.M. was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Despite his special needs, he managed to meet or exceed his school district’s academic standards for first grade. In second grade, his academic achievement continued, albeit with an increase in behavioral problems. The following year, he still met most academic milestones, but this behavior continued to worsen.