Eighth Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Beston (8th Cir. August 2022)

The Eighth Circuit vacated a district court’s restitution order after finding that the Government breached the plea agreement by advocating for a higher amount than previously stipulated. The Court entertained the defendant’s claim despite an appellate waiver, holding that the Government’s breach seriously affected the fairness of the proceedings.

United States v. Bernard (8th Cir. August 2022)

The Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s order denying the Government’s motion to dismiss several charges in an indictment against a defendant pursuant to a plea agreement and the defendant’s guilty plea to the least serious charge. After finding that it jurisdiction under the collateral-order doctrine, the Court held that the district court erred in finding that dismissal of the remaining charges was “clearly contrary to manifest public interest” and had improperly substituted its own judgment for the prosecution’s.

United States v. Stowell (8th Cir. July 2022)

The Eighth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s enhanced sentence under the ACCA where two of the defendant’s three predicate offenses had been charged in the same indictment and occurred 3 days apart and with separate victims. The Court concluded that the Supreme Court’s decision in Woodson did not mean these prior offenses were not conducted “on occasions different from one another,” and rejected the defendant’s Sixth Amendment challenge.

United States v. Morris (8th Cir. July 2022)

The Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s order of restitution in a smuggling and postage counterfeiting case. The Court held that only losses caused by specific conduct that forms the basis of a conviction can be included in a restitution order, and since the defendant’s conviction was based only on his forgery of stamps and not a broader conspiracy, scheme, or pattern, the restitution should have been limited to losses caused by the forgery.

Marcyniuk v. Payne (8th Cir. July 2022)

The Eighth Circuit affirmed a district court’s denial of a defendant’s 2254 motion which had been based on the defendant not being present when certain jurors were stricken off-the-record and before jury selection began. The Court reasoned that the claim was barred by defendant’s failure to raise it earlier, despite the fact that the records regarding the jury selection had been separately held by the clerk and not transmitted with the record during the prior direct appeal.

United States v. Garbacz (8th Cir. April 2022)

The Eighth Circuit reversed some, but not all, of a defendant’s convictions for multiple counts of wire fraud where, after depositing embezzled funds from his church, the defendant-priest made several payments from that account using those funds. The Court upheld the defendant’s convictions based on the deposits since they furthered the scheme but reversed those based on the payments, since those payments did not help further or conceal the offense.

United States v. Katie Boll (8th Cir. July 2021)

The Eighth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s sentence and the sentencing court’s application of the enhancement for an offense involving a “large number” of vulnerable victims. The Court held that the defendant’s actions in stealing pain medication from 14 patients warranted the application where the district court found that this was a “large number” relative to similar offenses.

United States v. Andrew Sarchett (8th Cir. July 2021)

The Eighth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for distributing methamphetamine based on the sentencing court improperly calculating the defendant’s drug quantity. The Court held that drugs found in the defendant’s girlfriend’s car should not have been included in the defendant’s total drug quantity where the additional quantity was based solely on a stipulation in the plea agreement that the girlfriend had made certain statements about the drugs. The stipulation did not establish that her statements were true, and there was no additional evidence tying the defendant to the drugs.

United States v. Seneca Harrison (8th Cir. September 2020)

The Eighth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence and held that the judge improperly participated in plea negotiations when he excused the prosecutor from the court room, told the defendant that the federal system “sucks” and is “really harsh,” and suggested that the defendant would be sentenced by a more lenient if he went to trial and lost rather than plead guilty. The Court held this was reversible plain error where the defendant proceeded to trial and received a higher sentence than discussed by the parties and the judge at the change of plea hearing.

United States v. Jason Harriman (8th Cir. August 2020)

The Eighth Circuit upheld a defendant’s conviction of murder-for-hire, denying entrapment as an affirmative defense under the de novo standard of review because the defendant did not produce sufficient evidence of inducement. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of motions for new counsel and new trial, holding the proper standard of review is for abuse of discretion.

Scroll to Top