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

January 2014 Archives

N.D. Farmer Sentenced in Warrantless Drone Search Case

Law enforcement took a turn for the futuristic in North Dakota when a farmer in the state became the first person to be convicted following the use of a Predator drone, raising questions about the legality of warrantless drone searches.

Rodney Brossart was arrested in 2011 for refusing to return his neighbor's cows and for allegedly "terrorizing" police officers who tried to arrest him.

That's when things took a turn for the creepy.

When 8th Cir. Website, PACER Go Down, What's a Lawyer to Do?

You may have noticed that you couldn't access the Eighth Circuit's website last Friday. Rest assured, you're not alone.

Lawyers across the nation grappled with the massive outage. PACER went on the blink as well as uscourts.gov, most if not all federal court sites, and the federal court's public hub, according to The Washington Post.

What the heck happened and, more importantly, what should you do if it happens again?

Documentary on 8th Cir. Case on T. Rex Bones Kicks Off Sundance

In 1990, paleontologist Pete Larson discovered the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex on record in the badlands of South Dakota.

But Larson's honeymoon period following his stunning discovery was short-lived. A legal battle of equally epic proportions ensued with multiple parties jumping at ownership of the 65-million-year-old bones -- even the federal government.

The historic discovery -- and equally historic legal battle -- is the subject of a new documentary titled "Dinosaur 13" that was top-featured at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Watch Out for 3 Minnesota Court Scams

Last week, we discussed an email scam about fake court cases. But Minnesota courts are actually experiecing a number of other scams, ranging from phony warrants to threatening phone calls.

Here's a rundown of three scams to look out for:

Virus Alert: Beware Email Scam About Fake Court Cases

A new email scam is popping up in inboxes nationwide, including in Minnesota. The phony emails purport to come from federal and state courts, but when opened, they infect recipients with computer viruses.

In particular, the emails instruct recipients to make a court appearance at a specific day and time. The emails also instruct recipients to review an attached document for detailed case information.

The U.S. District Court of Minnesota issued a warning about this scam on Christmas Eve, when we were all busy catching up on our holiday reading.

For Ineffective Assistance in Plea, Sentencing: Think Prejudice

Convicted mail fraudster Larry Covington alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective at two stages of his proceedings. Covington alleges that § 2C1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines did not apply to his conduct and that his counsel should have challenged its application to his convictions both during plea negotiation and at sentencing.

Ultimately, the three-member panel of the Eighth Circuit determined that Covington's arguments floundered when it came to proving prejudice. They didn't even reach the question of whether his attorney was in fact deficient. The case highlights how the Eighth Circuit handles claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in the context of plea negotiations and sentencing.

Novartis Failed to Warn About Aredia, Zometa's ONJ Risks: 8th Cir.

There are few pains in life that top dental procedures. Seeking refuge in a cocktail of prescription pills feels like the only way to cope with the unrelenting agony radiating from your face, to keep from silently sobbing in some dark corner.

Plaintiff Ruth Baldwin wished she had known a little bit more about those pills she was popping -- and more importantly, the dangers that come with their use -- before ingesting two bone drugs, Aredia and Zometa, after her dental procedures.

Former Minn. Banker Gets 4th Bite at Sentencing Apple, But Why?

A former banker from St. Paul, Minnesota is appealing his 3.5-year prison term for his involvement in a sophisticated loan scheme, hoping to get a third bite at the sentencing apple.

Fourth time's the charm, maybe? If not, well, at least we'll know a little more about what "actual loss" means for sentencing purposes in fraud cases.