U.S. Fourth Circuit - FindLaw

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


A unanimous Supreme Court tossed out the criminal corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday. McDonnell and his wife had been convicted of bribery after they pulled a few favors for a Virginia businessman who had given them $175,000 in gifts, loans, and more. But those favors were relatively commonplace in the political world: setting up meetings, hosting events, or making phone calls on a constituent's behalf.

Such routine politicking does not constitute an "official act" in exchange for payment as required to sustain a federal bribery conviction, the Court ruled in an opinion certain to make corruption prosecutions more difficult in the future.

The Price of Cell Phone Convenience? Your Privacy and Liberty.

The recent ruling by the Fourth Circuit should raise the neck-hairs of everyone keeping track of mobile device-privacy issues and government overreach into our lives and pockets. In the case of USA v. Graham, the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, found that law enforcement does not require a search warrant when asking a cellphone carrier for tracking information because the consumer under scrutiny had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

It's a result that's a consequence of flawless application of logic -- and it should scare the bejeezus out of you.

Transgender Bathroom Case Likely on SCOTUS Track

This Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit ruled that it would not rehear the case of Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student who sought to use the boy's bathroom until a furor rose with parents threatening to vote out the school board unless Grimm was barred from using the boy's bathroom. The Circuit's refusal to rehear the case en banc, which essentially obligates Gavin's school to let him begin using the boy's bathroom again -- or it will at least guarantee that this fight will move up to the Supreme Court.

It was a bit of a tall order wanting all fifteen judges of the Fourth Circuit to hear the case. As it stands, some of the most controversially charged states regarding this issue are now obligated to allow persons who choose to use restrooms inconsistent with their biological sex do so.

4th Cir.'s Decision Will Allow W. Virginia Nurses to Unionize

Registered nurses employed by West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley Medical Center and Bluefield Regional Medical Center will be allowed to unionize after suit against their employers, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The decision will allow the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) to move forward on the nurses behalf.

4th Cir. Clarifies 4th Amendment Parolees' Rights

Fourth Amendment cases are always interesting in that they deal with some of the most fundamental concerns affecting state and citizen: state intervention into suspected criminal activity. And when multiple states are involved, the laws can only get more interesting.

A recent case out of the Fourth Circuit could possibly set the tone for parolees who have apparently violated the terms of their parole. In the Fourth Circuit's opinion, however, one cannot violate parole terms if they don't exist.

Casino dealers can sue their employer for unpaid, mandatory dealer training, the Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday. The ruling revives a class action against PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, the owner of Maryland Live!, a $500 million casino complex in Hanover, Maryland.

Maryland Live! opened for business in 2012, after the state legalized gambling. A year later, when Maryland began to allow table games like blackjack and poker, the casino started a major expansion. To staff its table games, it sought to hire 830 new dealers, and those dealers would have to undergo several weeks of mandatory dealer training, almost all of it unpaid. But if not paying for training was a gamble, it's one that doesn't seem to have paid off.

Transgender Teen Case to Be Heard in Court, 4th Cir. Rules

Gavin Grimm, the transgender teen at the heart of the bathroom controversy in North Carolina, successfully convinced the Fourth Circuit that his case should be heard in court.

Human rights groups have reacted approvingly to the decision, but North Carolina appears not to have moved and House Bill 2 in North Carolina appears to be moving forward despite some calls to repeal it.

Rehabilitation Act Case Affirmed Against Disabled Child by 4th Circuit

Another circuit case involving student bullying was affirmed in favor of the defending education board. Why is it that despite the circumstances of some of these plaintiffs, it so difficult for them to get relief?

The answer is a complex one, and it generally hinges on a SCOTUS case Davis v. Monroe County Board of Ed.

No Qualified Immunity for Cop Who Tased Without Reason

The Fourth Circuit reviewed yet another taser case last Thursday and again found that a cop who went overboard with tasing should not enjoy qualified immunity protection for his actions.

As always, the court went through a thorough and belabored discussion of the appropriateness of qualified immunity. But even without the rigorous judicial analysis, it should be clear to anyone that repeatedly zapping someone on the ground who isn't trying to flee is going to mean legal trouble.

In late 2013, a wave of armed bank robberies occurred around Washington, D.C. In October, a bank in Rockland, Maryland, followed by one in Vienna, Virginia, was hit. The next month, a Wells Fargo in Arlington. Just a few weeks later, on New Year's Eve 2013, three men were arrested, just after they robbed another Arlington bank, caught with nearly $48,000 of cash in hand.

It's hard to beat a charge of armed robbery when you're caught literally leaving the bank. It can be even harder to win on appeal, after you've been convicted of almost every charge thrown at you. But that didn't stop two of the robbers, James Larry McNeal and Alphonso Stoddard, from appealing their convictions using some clever novel arguments: one, that the government had failed to show that their guns could shoot; two, that armed bank robbery was not a crime of violence. Somehow, those arguments failed to convince the Fourth Circuit, which upheld their convictions.