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8th Circuit decides N.D. case Tuesday, December 5, 2023

In United States v. Juanita White Shield, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard an appeal from a defendant who was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to 57 months in prison, with an order of restitution. The defendant, White Shield, had assaulted another woman with a metal bar in a fit of jealousy when she discovered the woman in the truck with her husband.

She appealed the conviction on two grounds. First, she argued that the trial court erred in denying her motion for a mistrial after a witness mentioned three times that she was on probation. The court of appeals disagreed, stating that the trial court had broad discretion to grant or deny a motion for mistrial, and in this case, the reference to the defendant's probation status had minimal, if any, prejudicial effect. The court also noted that the trial court's instruction to the jury to disregard the reference to probation mitigated any potential prejudice.

Second, White Shield contested the restitution amount, as there was a discrepancy between the oral sentence and the written judgment. The court agreed with this contention, clarifying that when there is a conflict between an oral sentence and written judgment, the oral sentence prevails.

The court of appeals affirmed the conviction and the denial of the motion for mistrial but remanded the case back to the district court to amend the written judgment to align with the oral sentence regarding the restitution amount.