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

June 2013 Archives

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing arguments today on the Coast Guard’s appeal of a District Court’s ruling to free a Maltese coal ship that has been detained since April 19, 2013.

The detention stemmed from alleged environmental violations resulting in charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and falsification of records. How did the Coast Guard come to these conclusions? Via a crewmember, of course. It must be the year of the whistleblower.

4th Circuit Reversed Twice in One Day; Not Their Fault

We’ve heard of moral victories, but is there a losing equivalent? Moral losses? Gracious defeat?

Unlike the Ninth Circuit, which is regularly bench-slapped by the Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit may not feel bad about being reversed twice in one morning. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued decisions in Alleyne and Maracich. One was a heavily-fractured opinion about a truly ambiguous statute. In the other, the Fourth Circuit was actually correct under controlling law. The Supreme Court just changed the rules.

Because both cases involved fundamental rules essential to local practitioners of civil and criminal law, here are the updates:

4th Circuit Blocks Forced Medication of Schizophrenic Defendant

Frank Chatmon faces a life sentence if convicted of charges related to a massive drug-trafficking conspiracy. The biggest problem for the government, however, will be getting him to face those charges in court.

Before he could stand trial, his attorney noticed a deterioration in his mental state. Things got so bad that Chatmon’s attorney began to doubt that he had the capacity to understand the proceedings, and filed a motion seeking a formal competency evaluation.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment: Pay Up for DUI Death

Ever wonder why insurance policies include 10,983,267 exclusions and are 3,423 pages long?

This is why.

Richard Johnson had an Accidental Death & Dismemberment policy through his employer. He also had a few too many drinks before his car veered off the highway, through a sign, and flipped multiple times. The cause of death was internal injuries from a motor vehicle accident. The toxicology report measured his BAC at 0.289 percent.