U.S. Fourth Circuit - FindLaw

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


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North Carolina Vows to Appeal Voter ID Ruling -- Without AG Cooper

North Carolina is going to appeal the last week's predictable ruling that overturned the state's photo ID law, and it's going at it alone without its attorney general.

Yes, it's dissent within the ranks. North Carolina AG Roy Cooper has said that the state tried its hardest to defend the controversial photo ID law -- but it lost. Now his involvement in the suit has come to an end. Governor Pat McCrory almost immediately denounced Cooper (who will challenge him for his position in November) by painting the latter as a turncoat.

The Fourth Circuit overturned North Carolina's voter identification law this morning -- and it didn't pull any punches in doing so. In a blistering, strongly-worded opinion, the court found that the North Carolina legislature enacted the voter ID requirement and ended same-day voter registration and preregistration "with discriminatory intent."

It apparently didn't take the Fourth Circuit too long to reach these conclusions, either. The ruling comes just three months after a federal district court upheld the voting law and little over a month following oral arguments.

Insurance Won't Cover Injury Due to 'Playing Around' With Gun

In a decision that probably won't surprise many, the Fourth Circuit found that an employer-insurer was under no duty to indemnify a gunshot wound to a third party after the employee "play[ed] around" with his gun. The decision is important because it gives a little bit more clarity to both employers and employees as to what actions are covered under the "work related" language of insurance policies.

Practitioners should note, however, that the ruling is unpublished and does not yet have precedential effect. Nonetheless, the cases cited within appear to be strong and good law for those within the Fourth Circuit. And it appears that shooting your friend in your apartment is not work related.

4th Cir. Refuses Stay of Grimm's Transgender Access Bathroom Order

By hook or by crook, transgender student Gavin Grimm will get to use the bathroom of his choice, no matter how particular locals may feel about it. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Gloucester County School Board's request to stay a federal ruling in Grimm's favor, on Tuesday.

It looks like Grimm will finally be allowed in, despite the efforts of some. That is, unless the Supreme Court steps in.

Fourth Circuit Finds That Embezzlement Is Not Theft Under INA

In an analysis of moral turpitude crimes, the Fourth Circuit recently found that embezzlement is not tantamount to theft for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the case at bar, it involved a man who was under threat of removal from the United States for having committed an "aggravated felony."

But it also shines a light on a rather peculiar question. Just when is embezzlement theft? Is all property from fraudulently-obtained consent a form of theft?

Muslim Woman's Discrimination Suit Revived

The wrongful termination suit by an Arab-American Muslim woman of Moroccan descent was largely reversed by the Fourth Circuit recently, meaning that a jury will hear the discrimination allegations she brought against her former employer.

It was a whopper of an opinion that discussed the limitations that lower federal courts ought to observe concerning summary adjudication.

Things got a little better for parties seeking to recover attorney's fees in the Fourth Circuit this week. On Tuesday, the Fourth ruled that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d), which seeks to deter forum shopping and "vexatious" lawsuits, allows courts to award attorney's fees, but with limits.

Some courts have fully rejected the idea that Rule 41(d) entitles parties to recover attorney's fees, while others have awarded them almost as a matter of right. The Fourth Circuit's decision places it firmly between these two extremes, allowing recovery of fees only where the underlying statute defines costs to include attorney's fees, or where plaintiffs had acted in bad faith and vexatiously.

A unanimous Supreme Court tossed out the criminal corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday. McDonnell and his wife had been convicted of bribery after they pulled a few favors for a Virginia businessman who had given them $175,000 in gifts, loans, and more. But those favors were relatively commonplace in the political world: setting up meetings, hosting events, or making phone calls on a constituent's behalf.

Such routine politicking does not constitute an "official act" in exchange for payment as required to sustain a federal bribery conviction, the Court ruled in an opinion certain to make corruption prosecutions more difficult in the future.

The Price of Cell Phone Convenience? Your Privacy and Liberty.

The recent ruling by the Fourth Circuit should raise the neck-hairs of everyone keeping track of mobile device-privacy issues and government overreach into our lives and pockets. In the case of USA v. Graham, the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, found that law enforcement does not require a search warrant when asking a cellphone carrier for tracking information because the consumer under scrutiny had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

It's a result that's a consequence of flawless application of logic -- and it should scare the bejeezus out of you.