Raymond Gruender of Missouri has been a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit since his 2004 appointment by President George W. Bush. Judge Gruender, who sits in St. Louis, Missouri, has extensive prosecutorial experience, culminating with his time as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. Judge Gruender received a law degree and an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.
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Nimrod Sanders was convicted of impersonating a foreign diplomatic officer and of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sanders appealed, arguing that because he had represented himself as an ambassador of the Conch Republic, a fictitious government, he did not represent himself to be a representative of a “foreign government duly accredited . . . to the United States” and that he was not in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 915. Citing decisions by other circuits and analyzing the statute as a whole, with the words given their plain and ordinary meaning, the court affirmed the Defendant’s conviction.
Baker pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor pursuant to a plea agreement. Under the plea agreement, the government agreed to recommend he be sentenced to 30 years in prison. At sentencing, the government recommended a thirty-year sentence, but also made certain “unenthusiastic comments.” Baker was sentenced to 40 years. The issue was whether the government’s comments at sentencing constituted a breach of the plea agreement. Judge Gruender and the Eighth Circuit held that they did not, reasoning that the fact that the government made the agreed-upon recommendation in “other than the most enthusiastic terms” did not breach the agreement.
Brown was convicted of felony possession of a firearm after police officers pulled his vehicle over, searched it, and found a gun in the trunk. The issue was whether the officers violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights because they lacked reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop of the vehicle. Judge Gruender and the Eighth Circuit held that the officers had reasonable suspicion because they observed the defendant pull the gun out of his pants pocket at a nearby gas station and they believed he was too young to obtain a permit for concealed carry. Thus, according to Judge Gruender, the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the officers stopped his vehicle and performed the search.
In a 2012 case, Cowan pled guilty to felony possession of a firearm and qualified for the career offender sentencing enhancement based on his two prior convictions for crimes of violence. The issue was whether the term “crime of violence” and its definition in the guidelines was unconstitutionally vague. Judge Gruender held that the residual clause of the career offender guideline was not unconstitutionally vague.
Two homeowners sued their mortgage lender, seeking legal and equitable relief from the foreclosure and sale of their home. The court resolved a dispute about the interpretation of a good faith provision in a state statute about foreclosure advertising, holding that when a statute’s language is plain and unambiguous, it must be followed. Here, the language to “act fairly and in good faith” when the mortgagee purchased the property at the foreclosure sale did not impose a general fiduciary duty “beyond conduct that had a material impact on the fairness of the sale.”
Jeffrey Andersen was indicted for distributing a pornographic image in which he had superimposed a minor’s face over that of an adult. Andersen argued that a federal statute defining child pornography to include images “modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct” is overbroad under the First Amendment. Judge Gruender held that although the image did not fall into the category of “unprotected speech,” as most child pornography does, the statutory definition nevertheless survived strict scrutiny because of the government’s compelling interest in protecting minors from direct psychological harm.
Judge Gruender found a Minneapolis firefighter critical of the department had established a prima facie case of discrimination sufficient to survive summary judgment. Judge Colloton dissented.