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

August 2012 Archives

Fourth Circuit to Hear Appeals at WVU College of Law Oct. 4

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Traveling Roadshow is coming to a location near you. If you’re located in Richmond or West Virginia, that is.

If you’ve looked at the Fourth Circuit’s oral arguments schedule for the 2012-2013 term, you may have noticed a trend: Almost all of the hearings are at the circuit’s Richmond, Va. home.

The lone outlier? An October 4 hearing at the West Virginia University College of Law.

SCOTUS Denies Attorney Request for Fourth Circuit 'Exorcism'

It seems that Thomas Liotti was pretty peeved after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals admonished him in December for five different charges of attorney misconduct.

Some attorneys might have picked up a pint of ice cream, curled up in pajamas, and watched some reality TV to cope with appellate admonishment.

Liotti, on the other hand, filed a petition of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to benchslap the Fourth Circuit for benchslapping him.

4th Cir Vacates Conviction of Man Who Scared Woman to Death

A faulty indictment can mean the difference between a life sentence and a chance to walk free after 25 years.

This week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Larry Whitfield's conviction and sentence on an uncharged "death results" offense for a North Carolina woman's death, reports The Associated Press.

Will Proposed Model Jury Instructions Combat Social Media in Court?

You may have heard about jurors who can’t stop texting, tweeting, Facebooking during a trial. Some judges consider such behavior annoying. Others consider it grounds for a mistrial.

Instead of leaving the questions of where social media and smartphones cross the line up to a trial judge or appellate court, the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) has proposed model jury instructions regarding electronic technology use during trial.

4th Cir Grants En Banc Rehearing for 'No Abortion' Posting Laws

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to reconsider compelled speech challenges to “no abortion” posting requirements in en banc rehearing, reports Bloomberg.

In June, a three-judge panel struck down “no abortion” posting ordinances enacted by Montgomery County and the City of Baltimore, finding that officials lacked a compelling interest to enact the ordinances.

Fourth Circuit Changes the Rules

The rules are changing.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals announced two proposed rule changes on Monday, one of which will cost appellate practitioners more money.

The affected rules are Local Rule 41(a) and Local Rule 46(b).

Facebook Likes Free Speech

Be careful what you "like” on Facebook.

This week, the social network filed a brief in a First Amendment retaliation challenge before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Facebook “likes” are free speech, reports GigaOM. A district court previously dismissed the case, finding that clicking that tiny thumbs-up button was “insignificant speech” that did not involve “actual statements.”

So how does a click-of-the-thumb turn into a tort?

Feds Best Bikers in Fourth Circuit RICO Appeal

In 2010, over 20 members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang were indicted for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and several other offenses. Five of the convicted Outlaws appealed their convictions, claiming they should have had been able to cross-examine government witnesses on their backgrounds.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions in the Outlaws' RICO appeal this week, finding that the district court made a reasonable call on the questioning under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 608.

Fourth Circuit Grants Coram Nobis for Ineffective Counsel

Fourth Circuit jurisprudence states that a writ of error coram nobis is granted only where a more usual remedy is not available, a petitioner has valid reasons for not attacking the conviction earlier, adverse consequences exist from the conviction sufficient to satisfy the case or controversy requirement of Article III, and the error is of the most fundamental character.

Last week, the Fourth Circuit ruled that a case that seemed like an ordinary ineffective counsel appeal met the four-part test for a writ of error coram nobis.