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


Discrimination Suit Revived Against Mobile Home Park

A federal appeals court opened the door for Latino residents to sue their mobile home park for requiring them to prove they are legal residents.

In Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged the park discriminated against Latinos. The appeals panel vacated a trial court decision to dismiss the case.

However, the battle is far from over. It's not quite an episode of "Trailer Park Wars," but there was a strong dissent.

Court: Coal Ash Pollution Doesn't Violate Clean Water Act

To the Sierra Club, Hurricane Florence is even more dangerous than has been reported.

That's because the environmentalists are watching coal ash ponds along Elizabeth River and Deep Creek in Virginia. In Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Company, they argue arsenic is leaching from the ponds into the rivers and groundwater.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said that may be true, but it is not a violation of the Clean Water Act. Attorneys for the club say the hurricane will show just how "dangerous and irresponsible" it is.

Meet the 36-Year-Old Pick for 4th Circuit

President Trump has a plan to appoint younger judges, and Allison Jones Rushing fits that plan.

At 36, Rushing is the youngest nominee to a federal appeals court in 15 years. She also fits the generally youthful profile for potential judges who made the president's recent short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rushing will have to put in some years on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals before she makes that list. Of course, she has to make it to the appeals court first.

Court: North Carolina's Voting Map Must Be Redrawn -- Again

One vote can change an election, but three can put one in disarray.

At least, that's how it looks in North Carolina. With little more than two months before November elections, a federal appeals court said congressional voting districts there must be redrawn.

In Common Cause v. Rucho, the appellate judges said the state's congressional map is an unconstitutional gerrymander. It's bigger than the Tar Heel State, however, because the results could change the balance of power in Congress.

University Didn't Violate Students' Free Speech

College students often rally around the First Amendment, but sometimes lack the knowledge to go with it.

Ross Abbott, for example, helped organize a "Free Speech Event" at his university. It stirred controversy because some students were offended by a swastika display, a "wetback" poster, and other allegedly racist statements at the event.

In Abbott v. Pastides, the young organizer and others sued the university for violating their First Amendment rights. An appeals court said they lacked standing, not to mention they got to say everything they had planned.

4th Circuit Clogs Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Court opinions are like pipelines -- sometimes it takes a while for them to get through.

At least that's what's happening with the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The appeals court finally got its message through to the contractors building the 600-mile pipeline.

Stop, the judges said in Sierra Club v. United States Department of the Interior. It wasn't the first time.

When former Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner retired to pursue a higher calling of assisting pro se litigants, we all knew some judges would fear the Poz's larger-than-life persona. But the Fourth Circuit, as Above the Law suggests, seems to have just tucked its tail between its legs and scurried off, after eating Posner's steak dinner.

Not only did the panel of judges reject Posner's appeal, which on its face, seems to have quite a bit of merit, they did so rather cursorily, and without even hearing oral argument.

Trump Emoluments Case Can Proceed, Federal Judge Says

Don't expect President Trump to check out of his own hotel, but some of his foreign guests may have to following a court ruling.

A federal judge ruled that the emoluments case may proceed against the president, based on allegations that he has profited from foreign or state officials while in office. Maryland and Washington, D.C. filed suit against him for violating the emoluments clause by receiving income from the Trump International Hotel.

Trump's attorneys tried to throw out the lawsuit, but the judge said an emolument is "any profit, gain or advantage." The ruling was a big tip -- and a lot more than a $20 bill -- that the president might be in trouble.

No Discrimination When Racial Slur Part of Job

A black police officer, a potential witness in a case, listened as a prosecutor started to read aloud racially-offensive letters that could be used for trial.

The lawyer stopped and asked if anyone in the trial preparation room was offended, prompting a black assistant attorney to leave but not the police officer. The prosecutor continued reading, repeating the word "Nigga" over and over again.

In Savage v. State of Maryland, the officer sued for racial discrimination because he had to listen to the offensive letters and he was not used as a witness. Let's read that again.

State Not Liable for Using Film of Sunken Pirate Ship

A federal appeals court rejected a filmmaker's complaint that North Carolina pirated his footage of Blackbeard's sunken ship.

In Allen v. Cooper, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the state was immune from liability for using the film of Queen Anne's Revenge. It ran aground in 1718 near Beaufort, North Carolina, where the plaintiff's crew filmed the underwater wreckage.

The state used some images of the pirate ship for tourism and educational purposes, a fair use under copyright law. Besides, not even Blackbeard's ghost claimed it.