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

January 2018 Archives

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.

Despite the fact that a ruling on similar sets of facts is expected in the coming months from SCOTUS, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that North Carolina's congressional voting map had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered by the state's Republican lawmakers. In issuing the ruling in the two consolidated cases, Common Cause v. Rucho and League of Women Voters v. Rucho, the court gave the state legislature a few weeks to fix it, lest the court step in to do so.

The appellate court found, in a nearly 200 page decision, that there was an attempt to "subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican domination" via the gerrymandering. Additionally, the opinion notes that the state's Republicans were "motivated by invidious partisan intent" when redrawing the state's congressional map. Clearly, the court used some strong words to suggest that partisan gerrymandering can quickly cross lines.