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

Teenager's Privacy Rights Search Warrant Case Goes Back to Court

There is no happy ending to this story, but someday Trey Sims may find closure to his disturbing case.

In 2014, police forced the then-teenager to masturbate in front of them ostensibly as part of an alleged sex crime investigation. The boy had texted sexually explicit photos and video of himself to his 15-year-old girlfriend, and they wanted to see if his penis matched the photos.

Sims served probation, then sued the police for violating his privacy. Before his case got to trial, however, the lead detective committed suicide as police came to arrest him for molesting two other boys.

ProTip: If you plan on breaking the law in the exact same way as one of your favorite rap lyrics describes (or any rap lyric that you are aware of; it doesn't have to be a favorite), just don't. And definitely don't post the lyric to your Facebook page unless you want it to be used against you at your criminal trial.

How can people think it's okay to quote songs or make up lyrics on Facebook -- or while sitting in a jail cell -- that perfectly describe the crimes they're being accused of? Seriously? One case from 2006 (cited by Fourth Circuit) details a defendant that sang "I shot the sheriff, but in my case it was the deputy" while in jail awaiting sentencing for shooting a sheriff's deputy.

'Peace Cross' Conflict Continues

An appeals court battle over Maryland's 40-foot 'Peace Cross' is over, but the conflict will go on.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused en banc to hear American Humanist Association v. Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. A three-judge panel ruled last year that the World War I memorial had the "primary effect of endorsing religion and exclusively entangles the government in religion."

The en banc court, split by multiple dissenters, declined to reconsider that decision. In the meantime, the "Peace Cross" supporters are taking their fight to the next level.

Court: Manufacturer Not Liable for WaveRunner Injury

When you see youngsters racing by on motorcycles, you might wonder if they make it to adulthood.

Chances are they do, but it helps if they have a helmet, boots and other protective clothing. Now think about those kids skimming across the ocean on those water motorcycles.

They may not need helmets, but they definitely need protective wear. Deborah Meek Hickerson didn't think so in Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.

4th Circuit Strikes Travel Ban 3.0 for Discrimination

President Trump's on-again, off-again travel ban is off again, at least in principle.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban -- the third one -- is unconstitutional. The appeals court said in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump that the ban wrongfully discriminates against people of Islamic faith.

However, the decision does not supersede the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in December that allowed the ban to stand pending litigation. If you are confused, you may want to get off the bus now because it's headed back to Washington.

The company behind an implantable transvaginal mesh medical device, Boston Scientific Corporation, failed to convince the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the lower district court helped the jury make the wrong decision.

The appeal was over four cases that were consolidated into one action due to the commonality of the cause of plaintiffs' injuries. The plaintiffs' injuries all involved Boston Scientific's transvaginal mesh implant. Notably, one of the component manufacturers clearly labeled their product in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to avoid use in permanent or long term implantable devices. Nevertheless, Boston Scientific used the component, and not surprisingly, many individuals suffered complications as a result.

In a recent ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, some much-needed clarity has been provided regarding the FBI's use of malware to track individuals accused of possession and distribution of child pornography. Notably, the appellate court upheld the use under the good faith exception of the exclusionary rule.

In short, the court found that the officers that sought the warrant allowing the use of the malware pursued the warrant in good faith after consultation with government attorneys and did not make misrepresentations to obtain the warrant. Given these findings, the court ruled that suppressing the evidence obtained was not an appropriate remedy and wouldn't help to deter future repeat conduct by law enforcement.

Court Returns Proof of Service to Sender in Terrorist Bombing Case

After al Qaeda bombed a U.S. ship on Oct. 12, 2000 -- killing 17 sailors and injuring dozens more -- the survivors fought back through lawsuits against Sudan for supporting the terrorists.

As the plaintiffs navigated the judicial system, however, they ran into an obstacle: the United States of America. The government opposed some of the sailors' claims because of a technical issue: service of process.

A trial judge ruled that service by mail to the Sudanese embassy in the U.S. was sufficient. In Kumar v. Reublican of Sudan, a federal appeals court reversed and remanded.

Court Calls Strip Club's Arbitration Strategy a 'Sham'

The Crazy Horse Saloon owners must have thought that they could out-lawyer Alexis Degidio, the exotic dancer who sued the strip club for wage violations.

In Degidio v. Crazy Horse Saloon and Restaurant, she alleged the company wrongly treated exotic dancers as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime. She also claimed the defendant improperly took dancers' tips.

But after more than a year of discovery and motions, the Crazy Horse thought of another strategy -- compel arbitration. The U.S Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was a sham.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the Baltimore law targeting pregnancy centers. The law required these centers to post clear notices in their waiting rooms stating that actual abortion services, and referrals to abortion services, are not provided there.

In striking down the law, the appellate court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the government failed to show any actual harm resulted from delays allegedly caused by the pregnancy centers' allegedly deceptive advertising.