Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Sec. and Exch. Comm’n v. Shanahan, Jr.
The SEC brought a civil action against defendant alleging that, as an outside director of Engineered Support Systems, Inc. (ESSI), he violated numerous federal securities laws by participating in the grant of backdated, "in-the-money" stock options to ESSI officials including his father. At issue was the district court's grant of defendant's Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 50(a)(1) motion for judgment as a matter of law. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that the SEC had failed to prove the requisite elements of scienter and negligence. The court also held that there was no clear abuse of discretion in excluding any reference to the Incentive Stock Option Agreement between defendant's father and ESSI. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Sec. and Exch. Comm'n v. Shanahan, Jr." on Justia Law
United States v. Mee
Appellant, the finance officer for the Standing Rock Housing Authority of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, pleaded guilty to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 120 months imprisonment. At issue was whether the district court committed procedural error when it departed upwards from the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range, U.S.S.G. 4A1.3, and when it considered ethnicity and other improper factors during sentencing. Also at issue was whether the sentencing was substantively unreasonable. The court held that the district court did not engage in impermissible double counting by departing upwards to criminal history category IV where the district court discussed the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of appellant, the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities between similar defendants, and the need to provide restitution for the victims. The court also held that the sentence was substantively reasonable where any comments regarding race or national origin were not offered as an explanation for imposing sentence but reflected the district court's disagreement with appellant's counsel that the Guidelines were "fair" and that a Guidelines sentence of 70 to 87 months imprisonment was appropriate as a matter of law; where the district court's statements expressed its frustration about its inability to order restitution for an amount closer to the total loss of money rather than a comment on appellant's socio-economic status; and where the district court did not use appellant's lack of an addiction to justify the sentence, but rather to describe his state of mind as he carried out the embezzlement scheme.