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

December 2014 Archives

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:

4th Cir. Strikes N.C. 'Informed Consent' Abortion Script for Doctors

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.

Does Gag Order in Ex-Massey Energy CEO's Criminal Case Go Too Far?

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.

4th Cir.: Trafficked Domestic Worker's Lawsuit Not Time-Barred

When Cristina Cruz left the Philippines to come to the United States, she thought she was getting a great opportunity. A friend told her that she could work for Nilda Maypa, a World Bank employee. So Cruz got the job and came to the United States. Her employment contract seemed solid: $6.50 an hour, 35 to 40 hours a week, plus medical insurance.

What she got was entirely different. Maypa paid her $250 a month -- that's a little over $8 a day -- required her to work 17 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, cook, clean, take care of the kids, clean the pool, mow the lawn ... and on and on.