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

March 2015 Archives

Federal prosecutors filed their first response to an appeal by former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell on Thursday. McDonnell was convicted of 11 counts of public corruption last September, relating from his relationship with a Richmond businessman who had given him over $177,000 in loans and gifts.

McDonnell contends that his conviction is invalid, that he never promised or performed any "official acts" in exchange for gifts and that his prosecution is a threat to democracy. Prosecutors' the one-hundred some page long filing argues that the court must uphold McDonnell's conviction.

4th Cir. Overturns Massage School's Reaccreditation

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.

Bankruptcy Trumps Arbitration in Indian Payday Loan Agreement

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.

Va. County's Panhandling Ordinance Is Unconstitutional, 4th Cir. Says

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.