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

May 2013 Archives

Wolfe to be Retried, Despite Prosecutors' Post-Habeas Misconduct

“Woe is the state of justice in the Commonwealth if this behavior is not extremely rare.”

Judge Stephanie Thacker, in dissent.

Justin Michael Wolfe, an alleged drug dealer once referred to as “Little Al Capone” due to the size of his operation, was convicted of hiring Owen Barber to kill Danny Petrole in 2002. Since then, evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and recantations by the triggerman, whose testimony was the only direct link to Wolfe, have led to years of state appeals and habeas petitions.

In the end, the Fourth Circuit’s holding in Wolfe II was clear: release or retry, within 120 days.

Wheelchair Ramp Dispute Tossed: Not Ripe Until Denied

Dan and Debbie Scoggins wanted the best for their son Jacob. After their requests to their Homeowner’s Association for permission to build a wheelchair ramp at the front door of their home and for permission for Jacob to ride an ATV within the housing subdivision went unanswered, they filed suit under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) on his behalf.

The family made their initial request to allow Jacob, who is partially paralyzed from a childhood accident, to ride an ATV around the property’s unpaved roads in May 2009. The matter was tabled, and mostly ignored, until litigation commenced in October 2010. A few weeks before the lawsuit was filed, the family also requested permission to build a wheelchair-accessible ramp leading to the front door of the house.

Can't Amend Restitution Sentence Without a Reason

Nicole Grant will pay for her $42,152 mistake, even if she'll only pay $125 at a time.

In 2009, Grant was indicted on one count of stealing government property in excess of $1,000 after she failed to notify the government that she was no longer eligible for Supplementary Security Income ("SSI") after she subsequently married.

She pled guilty and was sentenced to probation, brief home confinement, and restitution. Her presentencing report factored in her income, expenses, debts, and tax refunds for the preceding four years, leading the judge to require her to pay $250 per month in restitution payments. That was lowered to $125 in 2010.

1,900 Days Later: Exhausted Guy Still Waiting on DEA FOIA Request

It has been roughly 1,900 exhausting days since John Coleman, a researcher and author, filed his Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request with the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”). Under FOIA, departments have twenty days to respond to requests, plus a ten day extension for cause.

Coleman is still waiting. And after 1,900 or so days, he may still have to pay for the photocopies.

Coleman filed his initial request in February 2008, seeking information concerning the government’s regulation of the drug carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant also known as Soma). Carisoprodol became a Schedule IV controlled substance in 2011.