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

March 2018 Archives

'Disturbing' Law Seeks to Protect Students

Judges are not supposed to read the newspapers in making their decisions, but it's hard to ignore the news.

According to reports, there has been an average of one school shooting each week in 2018. The number of student victims is even more sobering.

In the U.S Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges had to look beyond the news when considering a "disturbing schools law." Nobody was close to being shot in Kenny v. Wilson, but apparently lawmakers were not sure about how to keep the troublemakers away.

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.