U.S. Fourth Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


The Professional Massage Training Center, in Springfield, Missouri, became accredited by the Accreditation Alliance of Career Schools in 2005. When PMTC applied for reaccreditation in 2010, AACS denied the application.

That's a big deal: Unaccredited schools don't get access to a whole host of benefits, including the ability to accept federal student loan money. PMTC sued, and a federal district court agreed with PMTC, awarding it $400,000 in damages and reinstating the accreditation. That decision was totally wrong, said the Fourth Circuit, which reversed the reinstatement and ordering the district court to dismiss the case.

Planning on visiting a federal courthouse anytime soon? Get ready for a good pat down. Courts across the country are beefing up their security and getting in to see a judge these days can require just about as much security screening as flying to Jordan.

Getting held up in security can throw a serious wrench into your day, whether you're present simply to attend arguments or arguing before a judge. Pay attention to these three security rules to know so you don't get caught off guard when walking up the courtroom steps.

There's no end to the creativity payday lenders will go to extract huge interest rates out of desperate people. When states started to regulate them, payday lenders ingeniously contracted with Indian tribes, who were more than happy to share a cut of the money so that payday lenders could be exempt from state usury laws.

And thanks to binding arbitration agreements, disputes won't go to court. But what happens when a debtor challenges a payday loan's validity in a bankruptcy proceeding? The Fourth Circuit is here to find out.

A few years ago, the Ninth Circuit ruled against the City of Redondo Beach in a dispute over a city ordinance prohibiting standing in the street to solicit anything in exchange for money. The ordinance was really directed toward day laborers; Redondo Beach wanted a way to stop them from soliciting work on certain streets and tried to use a safety ordinance to do it.

Now, from the Fourth Circuit, comes a similar statute prohibiting "standing" in a county roadway to solicit funds or sell merchandise. The plaintiff in Reynolds v. Middleton is, it turns out, a homeless man who solicits donations from stopped cars. A federal district court had granted summary judgment for Henrico County, Virginia, but last week, the Fourth Circuit reversed.

The saga of disgraced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell came to some kind of resolution today as he was sentenced to two years in prison, less than what prosecutors wanted.

McDonnell and his wife Maureen were charged last year with public corruption for taking $177,000 in gifts while McDonnell was governor. The trial turned from a simple bribery case into a sideshow that placed the McDonnell's allegedly troubled marriage in the spotlight.

2014 at the 4th Cir.: The 10 Most Popular Blog Posts

In 2013, the theme in the Fourth Circuit was guns: concealed carry, criminal penalties for carrying, etc.

This year? It's all about Virginia: a corrupt governor, malicious prosecution, and penile photography by police officers and prosecutors.

For 2014, here are your Top 10 most popular posts from the Fourth Circuit, folks:

On Monday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals became the first federal appellate court to overturn a state's "informed consent" law for abortions. These laws require physicians to recite a state-mandated script before performing an abortion.

In the case of North Carolina, physicians were required to conduct an ultrasound, point out to the patient the fetus and any visible body parts, and advise the patient on alternatives to abortion. All of this, said the Fourth Circuit in stark, uncompromising language, went way too far.

Oral Arguments in Warrantless Cell Tower Location Data Requests Case

This is an early contender for a Supreme Court case -- assuming, of course, one of the parallel cases in a burgeoning circuit split doesn't make it onto the High Court's docket first.

The facts are relatively unremarkable: Aaron Graham and Eric Jordan were convicted of robbery after prosecutors used a court order -- not a warrant -- to obtain historical cell phone tower location data tied to their phones. This same scenario has played out twice before in appeals cases -- in the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits -- with mixed results.

How is it looking for these two defendants? There was no clear indication from the oral arguments, with the judges expressing concerns over both the government's and defendants' positions.

Important Assault Weapons and Magazine Capacity Law Battle in Md.

A landmark Second Amendment case is making its way through the Fourth Circuit, and once again, the state behind the restrictive law is Maryland. Two years ago, it was concealed carry. This year, the issue is the assault weapons ban and magazine capacity limit that went into effect courtesy of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a gun control law passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

As you might expect, the case has drawn attention from outside interest groups and amicus groups from all across the United States.

It's extremely hard these days to get indictments against corporate officers for corporate wrongdoing, but the feds managed it in the case of Donald Blankenship, the former chief executive of Massey Energy, one of the country's largest coal mining companies.

Blankenship was indicted on federal conspiracy and false statement charges for allegedly covering up mine safety violations that led to an explosion, killing 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia four years ago. Now, though, a federal court has imposed a gag order on the whole thing.