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

July 2011 Archives

Court Applies Davis Exclusionary Rule Holding Retroactively

Does a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule permit the admission of evidence obtained by a police officer who conducts a search in objectively reasonable reliance on precedent that is later overruled?

Last month, the Supreme Court held in Davis v. United States that "searches conducted in objectively reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent are not subject to the exclusionary rule," and this week the Fourth Circuit applied that reasoning to a case that been lingering on the docket while the circuit waited for Supreme Court clarification.

Court Upholds Sarbanes-Oxley Conviction of Child Porn Defendant

The news has been full of child pornography cases this summer. Just a few examples: Earlier this month, there was the California decision that a man who superimposed his teenage daughter's face on pornographic images was protected by the First Amendment because the relevant parts of child pornography must feature a child. In June, there was the story of a forced yearbook recall in Big Bear Lake, California after authorities discovered teenagers getting frisky in the background of a yearbook photo from a school dance.

With such sensationalist fare, we almost overlooked this arguably bland, unpublished Fourth Circuit challenge to a Sarbanes-Oxley conviction, until we realized that the law was being used to prosecute a man suspected of possessing child pornography.

Let's break this down together, shall we?

Circuit Accepting CJA, Capital Appellate Panel Applications

It's time to panic. You have a law school reunion next year, and you need a zinger to let those Order of the Coif members know that you haven't been resting on your laurels since you last saw them. You may not have clerked for the Supreme Court, but your federal criminal law practice makes Perry Mason look like Vinny Gambini.

Why not apply for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals's Criminal Justice Act or Capital Appellate Panels?

The CJA and Capital Appellate Panels are comprised of attorneys who are eligible and willing to accept appellate appointments from the Fourth Circuit. Members of the CJA Appellate Panel are appointed in criminal cases when new counsel must be appointed on appeal, and members of the Capital Appellate Panel are appointed in capital cases when new counsel must be appointed on direct appeal or on collateral appeal.

W. Va Attorney General Improperly Withheld Funds, 4th Circuit Says

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the federal government was correct in withholding Medicaid money from the State of West Virginia. In the simplest words -- the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the State's Attorney General had misapplied funds owed the government from a pharmaceutical lawsuit settlement.

The ruling came out on Wednesday and held in favor of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports Legal Newsline.

Jeffrey MacDonald's Murder Case to be Retried? Lawyers Meet

Lawyers will convene later this month to discuss the path of a case that made it up to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.

The case involved Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Army surgeon at Fort Bragg. MacDonald was convicted in a 1970 murder of his pregnant wife and two daughters. He maintained his innocence throughout his trial, which culminated in a 1979 conviction.

MacDonald claims that he had evidence that exonerated him. He is currently serving three life sentences, reports the Fayetteville Observer.

4th Circuit Vacates Sentence Reduction in Child Porn Case

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a sentence and remanded the case for further proceedings where the district court reduced a sentence from ninety-six months to one day.

The case involved defendant James Clawson, charged with being a moderator of a child pornography website. He cooperated with the government and pleaded guilty to charges of distributing child pornography and at the time of his plea, it became known that he suffered from ADHD and depression, requiring certain medication daily.

Now, under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 35(b), the motion could have been made to reduce his sentence, for providing substantial assistance to the government.