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

June 2012 Archives

4th Circuit Strikes Baltimore's 'No-Abortion' Posting Requirement

Pro-life clinics are often characterized as "crisis pregnancy centers." Pro-choice advocates claim the term is misleading because crisis pregnancy centers counsel women to continue their pregnancies. (Pro-life advocates counter that the name Planned Parenthood is equally misleading.)

Some cities, like New York and Baltimore, have responded to the misnomer criticism with posting requirements that require a "limited-service pregnancy center" to post signs announcing that they do not offer, or make referrals for, abortions or birth control services

Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Baltimore's posting ordinance.

Death Row Prisoner Chad Fulks Loses Ineffective Counsel Appeal

Chad Fulks pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing 44-year-old Alice Donovan during a two-week crime spree after he and co-defendant Brandon Basham escaped from a Kentucky jail in 2002, reports The Herald Dispatch. Fulks has been on death row for years, and it seems unlikely that a court will step in to save him.

Tuesday, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected Fulks' appeal that he was plagued by ineffective counsel during pleading and sentencing.

59 Million Pages of Doc Review Don't Warrant Continuance

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a former mortgage executives fraud conviction this week, finding that a lower court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to grant the defendant more time to review almost 59 million pages of documents for exculpatory evidence, reports CBS News.

Lee Farkas challenged his convictions for bank, wire and securities fraud, and conspiracy arising from a multi-billion dollar scheme to hide the financial difficulties of Taylor, Bean, & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. during his tenure as its chairman and principal owner. Farkas claimed that the district court violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights during the trial.

We're focusing on the Sixth Amendment issues.

4th Cir to Election Board: Hand Over the Voter Registration Apps

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that a nonprofit organization that promotes voter registration can access completed Virginia voter registration applications under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), reports Ballot Access News.

Plaintiff Project Vote/Voting for America, Inc. (Project Vote) is a nonprofit that seeks to increase voter registration among young, low-income, and minority voters. The lawsuit in this case arose after Project Vote learned that students at Norfolk State University, a historically African-American college, experienced problems in registering to vote in the November 2008 primary and general elections in Virginia.

Fourth Circuit: Absolute Priority Rule Lives

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that the absolute priority rule still applies to individual debtors in possession filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

This is a significant decision, because the Fourth Circuit is the first appellate court to consider the issue since the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA).

Fourth Circuit Resolves PLRA Three Strikes Confusion

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a North Carolina inmate can proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) "three strikes" rule with his lawsuit alleging the importance of a sanitary shave.

In 2011, Jonathan Leigh Henslee filed an inmate grievance with the North Carolina Department of Corrections stating that Alexander Correctional Institute's (AXCI) failure to enforce its grooming policy puts inmates at risk of contracting various infections. His quest for a clean shave made it to the Fourth Circuit after a district court dismissed his complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

Court Dismisses Firefighter's Deliberate Indifference Claim

After Racheal Wilson, a new recruit for the Baltimore City Fire Department, tragically died during a “live burn” training exercise, her survivors and estate filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Baltimore mayor and city council, alleging that the Baltimore City Fire Department violated Wilson’s substantive due process rights by staging the exercise with deliberate indifference to Wilson’s safety.

This week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss the claim on a 12(b)(6) motion.

Class Actions, Loan Servicing, Acceleration Dates, Oh My!

While public opinion has favored borrowers since the mortgage meltdown, the federal courts occasionally side with the mortgage industry.

Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion siding with a loan servicer in a fee dispute involving acceleration dates.