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Hiring freeze? Budget crunch?

Hah! It seems that budget deal that ended the shutdown, and alleviated the effects of sequestration on the courts, has freed up some funds for a few staff positions at the Fourth Circuit. The Court of Appeals is looking for two librarians familiar with digital and electronic resources, and for an experienced attorney to lead the Office of Staff Counsel.

Sound intriguing? Read on for the official job descriptions, and click the links for the full vacancy announcements, including duties and required qualifications:

As predicted late last year, Judge Andre Davis, after only a few years on the Fourth Circuit, took senior status as of February 28, 2014. He was eligible for the semi-retired status due to his prior service on the district court bench for nearly two decades.

His move to senior status opens up an extra seat on the bench, which due to tradition, must be filled with a Maryland appointee. Meanwhile, as a senior judge, he'll still hear cases. Think of this arrangement in baseball terms -- he's a pinch hitter when the docket is full. (For more on the Rule of 80 and what senior status really means, see our post from last year.)

Get any emails about last-minute court hearings in unfamiliar cases? They're fake (almost certainly), and the attachments carry a pair of nasty viruses.

Plus, an update to Java, the annoying app that loves to bug you with update reminders, broke the Fourth Circuit's website on Wednesday.

While fellow FindLaw-er Gabriella Khorasanee may play favorites with the Second Circuit, for me, nothing beats the Fourth.

Why? (Not quite) obscene park ranger gropings. Lots of important Second Amendment issues, including concealed carry of guns. The South trying to rise again and failing -- twice. And, of course, the greatest law school in the history of all law schools, which recently came in second to some other Virginia law school in Above the Law's Insider rankings (take that, Stanford!), is located in the heart of the Fourth Circuit.

Looking for a microcosm of the biggest issues in American law? This year, the Fourth Circuit docket was stuffed with gun regulations, free speech, and stuff that we don't like to talk about in polite company.

It looks like a spot is about to open up on the Fourth Circuit, the first vacancy since Judge Thacker was confirmed for the court's final vacancy last year.

Judge Andre Davis, an appointee of President Obama in 2009, will take senior status in February 2014, reports the Maryland Appellate Blog. He is the youngest of three Maryland-based Fourth Circuit judges, and has only been on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a few years, but is eligible for senior status at the age of 65, after serving nearly two decades on the federal bench.

Judge Davis has been a federal judge since 1995, when he was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Clinton. The Maryland Appellate Blog notes that he was first nominated for the Fourth Circuit in 2000, but was not confirmed during his first go-round.

All it takes is one bad hurricane for it to be a "bad" hurricane season. Nonetheless, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, this upcoming season could be "more active than normal" and perhaps "very active."

Why? The short answer is because meteorologists said so. The long answer involves warmer than normal Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a strong rainy season in West Africa. Altogether, the season could see 13 to 19 tropical storms, six to nine of which could become hurricanes.

Three to five of those storms are expected to be major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing arguments today on the Coast Guard’s appeal of a District Court’s ruling to free a Maltese coal ship that has been detained since April 19, 2013.

The detention stemmed from alleged environmental violations resulting in charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and falsification of records. How did the Coast Guard come to these conclusions? Via a crewmember, of course. It must be the year of the whistleblower.

In a time of strained resources and judicial shortages, Chief Judge William B. Traxler, Jr. of the Fourth Circuit has agreed to take on extra duties as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, effective today. He succeeds Judge David B. Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit, who took senior status yesterday.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts made the announcement today and stated:

SCOTUS Sends Liberty Back to Fourth Circuit

Affordable Care Act litigation is a lot like Ghostface in the Scream movies. At the end of each film, you think that you have closure. Then another Scream comes along, proving you wrong.

That's pretty much what we have today with the Supreme Court's decision to remand Liberty University's employer mandate and contraceptive coverage mandate challenges: You may have thought the Court's healthcare decision in June signaled the end of ACA litigation until 2014.

You were mistaken.

When someone wants to legally pack heat, the laws applicable to the concealed carry of a firearm typically will fall into one of three types: "shall issue," "may issue," and no permit laws. Maryland is one of ten "may issue" states, meaning when a gun owner wants a concealed carry permit, the state has the discretion to deny a permit.

Raymond Woollard sought a permit in 2002, after his son-in-law broke into his house in Baltimore County. Woollard and his son subdued the intruder with two legally possessed guns. He subsequently obtained a concealed carry permit. While his first renewal was approved, a second renewal was denied in 2009, as was the subsequent appeal, reports The Washington Post.