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

May 2012 Archives

Judge Stephanie Thacker Sworn in to Fourth Circuit

Stephanie Thacker was sworn in as the first female judge from West Virginia to serve on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, reports the West Virginia Record. West Virginia’s senators, Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, joined Chief District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, Thacker’s family, friends and some former co-workers at her investiture.

Judge Thacker was confirmed by the Senate for the appellate bench in April by a vote of 91-3. Senators Jim De Mint (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and David Vitter (R-La.) opposed her confirmation.

Piracy is a State of Mind, Not a State of Success

In the wee hours of an early April morning, Abdi Dire and his Somali scurvy crew launched an attack on the USS Nicholas, a mighty Navy vessel they mistook for a vulnerable merchant ship. Shiver me timbers, that was a bad idea.

The not-so-merry band was captured, and forced to walk the plank all the way to the Eastern District of Virginia, where they were convicted of piracy and sentenced to life plus 80 years. They appealed, arrr-guing that they weren’t guilty of piracy because they hadn’t actually captured the ship.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed their convictions, reports Reuters.

Fourth Circuit Dog Mural Ruling Bites Small Business Owner

It seems like it's been months since we had a FindLaw Top Dog, so we’re making up for it with a post about a Top Dog Professional.

Today’s Top Dog Professional, Kim Houghton, is a recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals litigant. Houghton has what we imagine to be the best job ever: She runs Wag More Dogs, a doggy daycare business located near the Shirlington Dog Park in Arlington, Va.

4th Cir. Hears Reporter's Privilege Arguments in James Risen Case

Friday, federal prosecutors asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a pretrial ruling limiting the reporter’s privilege in a CIA leak case, ABC News reports.

While the scope of the reporter’s privilege is not explicitly defined, the Supreme Court ruled in Branzburg v. Hayes that reporters cannot invoke the First Amendment as justification for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The government claims that, under Branzburg, a reporter must testify about a crime that he witnesses, even if the crime is a source spilling state secrets to the reporter.

Fourth Circuit: Courts Can Hear Abu Ghraib Torture Cases

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing the Abu Ghraib torture lawsuits against military contractors to proceed ... for now.

In an 11-3 decision after en banc rehearing, the Fourth Circuit reinstated two torture claims in Virginia and Maryland federal courts. The court did not rule on the merits of either claim; it only agreed to let judges in the cases review more evidence before addressing the contractors’ immunity claims.

Court Upholds Protective Sweep in Felony Possession Appeal

How long can cops prolong a protective sweep and how much evidence can they seize in the process?

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals examined the limits of the protective sweep last week in United States v. Laudermilt. (Brief thanks to FedAgent.com for bringing this case to our attention.)

Fourth Circuit: Pitt County Desegregation Order Stands

The Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education 58 years ago, but some public school systems are still operating under federal desegregation orders to achieve the goals set in that landmark decision.

The Pitt County School System is one of those monitored school systems.

Fourth Circuit Delays Monroe Bypass Construction

Construction on the Monroe bypass, Charlotte, North Carolina's first modern toll road, was once again delayed this week.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that the public agencies did not comply with federal environmental assessment requirements when developing a construction plan.

Fourth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Bail Bondsmen

If the oh-so-dreamy Mad Men star Jon Hamm appeared on your porch and demanded entry to your home to look for a hooligan, you would happily admit him. Pour him a stiff drink. Sit for one of his clipped-toned, Don Draper-esque observations that would leave you questioning your life choices, but happy that your path had been corrected by such a charismatic passerby.

If South Carolina bail bondsman Jon Ham showed up on your porch with a shotgun and demanded entry to your home to find a fugitive, you might end up arguing qualified immunity in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Guess which Jon we're discussing today?