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

March 2013 Archives

Student Can't Wear 'Inflammatory' Confederate Flag T-Shirts

Obvious proposition of the day: students have less rights when in school. For example, their Fourth Amendment rights are curtailed to the extent that separating them from their belongings and having drug dogs sniff around is permissible. There is also a line of cases, across the circuits, that allow some restrictions on free speech.

Here's another one.

Candice Hardwick, a Caucasian female who formerly attended middle and high school in Latta, South Carolina. She's quite proud of her Southern heritage and chose to express that pride by wearing shirts depicting the Confederate Battle Flag, which is the infamous flag that we've all seen plastered onto a dirty pickup truck at some time or another.

Woollard Decision: Means 'Reasonably' Justified by Safety Ends

Maryland has a need for public safety measures. There's a reason some people call it "Balti-murder" after all. Of course, the means chosen to achieve that public interest must survive intermediate scrutiny by having a fit that is "reasonable, not perfect."

Do the means fit the need? The state's justifications include:

Woollard Decision: Court Jumped the Gun in Concealed Carry Case?

Thursday was not a great day for Alan Gura and the Second Amendment Foundation. The Fourth Circuit eviscerated a lower court opinion, refused to delineate the bounds of the Second Amendment, and approved a "may issue" concealed carry law in Maryland. The lower court had held that the right to bear arms extends outside of one's home and that a "good-and-substantial reason" requirement for concealed carry permits was an unconstitutional burden on that right.

Before we get to the case, however, can we all take a moment to appreciate the development of an entire body of law, right in front of our eyes? Maybe its just us, but how many chances will lawyers have to shape the entire jurisprudence of a Constitutional guarantee in their lifetimes?

Tax Conviction Upheld Despite Two 'Significant' Prosecutor Errors

Michael Woods is in tax trouble. He allegedly pulled identities and Social Security Numbers off of a computer at his day job (at the Veteran's Administration), and used those identities to claim nonexistent dependents on clients' returns.

Woods, who represented himself and testified on his own behalf, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 132 months' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $464,599. He appealed.

If The Claim is Precluded, Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Georgia Pacific makes paper towels and paper towel accessories. It's a glamorous life -- especially when you design some spiffy new automatic paper towel dispenser that uses its own proprietary premium paper towels. Of course, premium paper towels come at a premium price, and when that happens, other companies, like von Drehle, rush in to fill the cheap-paper void.

The inevitable result of such competition is litigation. GP accused VD of contributory trademark infringement. Shortly thereafter, they also attempted to enforce their rights against numerous other manufacturers in other venues and jurisdictions. The VD litigation proceeded through summary judgment in their favor, a Fourth Circuit reversal, and a remand before von Drehle sought to amend their answer to reflect preclusion issues.

Request Sodomy From a Teen, Strike Down a Statute

Moments after the seventeen-year-old girl returned to the vehicle, MacDonald made an indecent request - oral sodomy. She refused, and returned him to the Home Depot parking from whence he came.

Months passed by and, still stinging from the rejection, he filed a police report alleging that she forcibly performed oral sex upon him. His actions, ill-advised as they were, were the catalyst for criminal charges, years of legal tumult, and in the end, the termination of an unconstitutional statute.

One of his convictions was for solicitation, which itself requires a predicate felony. That felony was sodomy. The statute reads:

Mann Fights the Man on Unfair Crack Sentence

Man, Mann. You're still fighting this case?

Robert Mann was convicted of crack and powder cocaine possession in 1998. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison, in large part because of the amount of crack involved.

We all know what happened next: The great crack reform brought forth by the Fair Sentencing Act.