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

December 2013 Archives

Guy Who Designed Ravens Logo Still Isn't Getting Paid

This guy got screwed. We can all agree on that, right? Frederick Bouchat designed a "Flying B" logo, faxed it to the Baltimore Ravens offices, and when the franchise began play, they used a logo that is pretty much indistinguishable from his design. If you've heard about this before, it's because he has sued. Repeatedly.

Bouchat actually won, but was awarded only nominal damages. He's made multiple trips to the Fourth Circuit and during the last trip, he prevailed on claims that the team's in-stadium videos, which employed the "Flying B" logo, were not fair use. This time, he's upset about fleeting views of the logo in archival videos and pictures. (The team switched to its current raven profile logo in 1998.)

And this time, he loses, because 10 seconds of less of footage in a documentary, or in a picture documenting the history of a team, is fair use.

Judge Davis Passionately Dissents From ACCA Sentence Confusion

"The majority opinion runs counter to Supreme Court precedent, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 130 S. Ct. 27 (2010), and effectively guts our Circuit precedent, United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc). It violates principles of comity and federalism by directing federal district courts to ignore the careful sentencing decisions of their state counterparts. And it goes to such lengths all to affirm a twenty-two-year sentence imposed on a fifty-one-year old mentally ill veteran who had previously never served more than ten months in prison, tagging him with the moniker "armed career criminal." We can do much better than this."

Judge Andre Davis is obviously mad, but why? Blame the hard-to-apply Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which mandates stiff sentences for those who have previously been convicted of a "violent felony or a serious drug offense." It relies on a vague definition for "violent felony" as "any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year," a definition that makes application to North Carolina borderline-felony offenses exceedingly difficult, as we've seen before, and will see again.

Fee Hikes and Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Amended

We'll keep this little update quick for all of you who practice in federal courts, especially the appellate branches.

Starting this week, fee hikes kick in. Yes, your clients will be paying more, unless you work for the government. And yes, that's the same government that funds the courts with your taxes, and shut down earlier this year (exhausting all reserve funds in the courts). They still get in the door fee-free, while private citizens pay the tab.

And the long-awaited amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure kick in this month as well, which means the local rules have to be tweaked to match.