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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.

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?

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.

Transgender Bathroom Case Likely on SCOTUS Track

This Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit ruled that it would not rehear the case of Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student who sought to use the boy's bathroom until a furor rose with parents threatening to vote out the school board unless Grimm was barred from using the boy's bathroom. The Circuit's refusal to rehear the case en banc, which essentially obligates Gavin's school to let him begin using the boy's bathroom again -- or it will at least guarantee that this fight will move up to the Supreme Court.

It was a bit of a tall order wanting all fifteen judges of the Fourth Circuit to hear the case. As it stands, some of the most controversially charged states regarding this issue are now obligated to allow persons who choose to use restrooms inconsistent with their biological sex do so.

Transgender Teen Case to Be Heard in Court, 4th Cir. Rules

Gavin Grimm, the transgender teen at the heart of the bathroom controversy in North Carolina, successfully convinced the Fourth Circuit that his case should be heard in court.

Human rights groups have reacted approvingly to the decision, but North Carolina appears not to have moved and House Bill 2 in North Carolina appears to be moving forward despite some calls to repeal it.

Rehabilitation Act Case Affirmed Against Disabled Child by 4th Circuit

Another circuit case involving student bullying was affirmed in favor of the defending education board. Why is it that despite the circumstances of some of these plaintiffs, it so difficult for them to get relief?

The answer is a complex one, and it generally hinges on a SCOTUS case Davis v. Monroe County Board of Ed.

No Qualified Immunity for Cop Who Tased Without Reason

The Fourth Circuit reviewed yet another taser case last Thursday and again found that a cop who went overboard with tasing should not enjoy qualified immunity protection for his actions.

As always, the court went through a thorough and belabored discussion of the appropriateness of qualified immunity. But even without the rigorous judicial analysis, it should be clear to anyone that repeatedly zapping someone on the ground who isn't trying to flee is going to mean legal trouble.

The Fourth Circuit reversed a criminal conviction last week because the defendant's lawyer snoozed through a significant portion of the trial. Nicholas Ragin had been convicted by a federal jury in Charlotte, North Carolina, and sentenced to 30 years for his involvement in prostitution and drug rings. But his lawyer, Nikita Mackey, napped through several parts of his trial.

The attorney's somnolence was so bad, the Fourth Circuit ruled, that Ragin did not need to show that he was actually prejudiced. So lawyers, before your next big trial, please get some sleep.