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

April 2013 Archives

Immigration Asylum Denied: Peru is Over the Whole Torture Thing

When Dario Suarez-Valenzuela (DSV) appeared on a Peruvian talk show in 1997, he was promised compensation by the show's investigator, Jason, and the show's host, Lara Bazzo. He was never paid, and together with Jason, he confronted Bazzo and threatened to report her to a rival station.

As the old saying goes, snitches get stitches. Four men with badges, identifying themselves police officers, approached the men to intimidate them. Officer Luis pistol-whipped Jason, who subsequently died. He also shot DSV in the foot.

After agreeing to testify against Luis, DSV was stabbed. He then fled the country for the U.S. Luis served three months in prison for the murder. He followed that up by trashing DSV's parents' residences and continuing to pay them visits until 2008.

4th Forces Arbitration, Citing SCOTUS Concepcion Decision

Samuel Muriithi drove an airport shuttle for Shuttle Express. He did so not as an employee, but as a franchisee. Of course, he alleges that the arrangement was a misclassification and that he was entitled to more pay, overtime, etc. under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Alas, the parties haven't even reached that important question yet. You see, their agreement included an arbitration clause. Shuttle Express pushed for enforcement of the clause but the district court ruled that it was unconscionable due to three provisions in the contract: the class action waiver, the requirement that the parties "split" arbitration fees, and the one-year limitations period for asserting claims.

The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's opinion, citing AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, and kicked the case to arbitration.

4th Circuit Announces Two More (Un)exciting Rule Changes

Like it or not, the world is becoming paperless. Email killed snail-mail years ago, e-books are slowly eroding the demand for paperbacks (though the ridiculously high prices of e-books are slowing that change), and like it or not, court opinions are moving wholly online as well.

Yep, the courts are catching up to WestLaw. After all, who uses hardback reporters anyway? My volumes of Supreme Court Lawyers' Edition are about 15 years out-of-date and only exist to make me look smart (and compliment my office motif).

Cuccinelli Fights to Uphold VA Sodomy Law: Is He Right?

Last month, we brought you the tale of attempted sodomizer and legal pioneer William MacDonald. Old MacDonald, at age 47, requested oral sex from a 17-year-old girl, then accused her of rape after she denied his advances. He was convicted under Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" anti-sodomy statute. To recap, that statute reads:

If any person ... carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a [felony.]

Detective Lunsford's Lies Invalidate Guilty Plea

A plea bargain is supposed to bring finality to a case. Along these lines, the Supreme Court, in Blackledge v. Perry, stated:

when a criminal defendant enters a guilty plea, he may not thereafter raise independent claims relating to the deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior to the entry of the guilty plea ... [He] is limited ... to attacks on the voluntary and intelligent nature of the guilty plea.

However, when the prosecution's entire case relied upon fictitious statement made by a corrupt police officer, how "voluntary and intelligent" can that plea be?