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

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Waiting Two-and-a-Half Years to File Motion Is Untimely, Fourth Cir. Rules

Motion practice can often be a very fast-paced and harrowing experience, particularly when someone's life or livelihood hangs in the balance. In motion practice, timing is everything.

So what would you say to a defendant who waited two and a half years to file a motion for relief from judgment after the court handed down a decision? You'd say that was an unjustified wait, right? We're glad you agree. That's how the Fourth Circuit ruled in Moses v. Carlton Joyner.

Fourth Circuit Dismisses Equal Protection Suit Against FEC

Conservative political action committees (PACs) took a hit on the chin with the Fourth Circuit's determination that the 1971 FECA rules did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment as to MPCs. In fact, if anything, the Act actually favors political committees.

Summary Judgment against the PACs was affirmed by the circuit court and remanded back to the district.

Planning on visiting a federal courthouse anytime soon? Get ready for a good pat down. Courts across the country are beefing up their security and getting in to see a judge these days can require just about as much security screening as flying to Jordan.

Getting held up in security can throw a serious wrench into your day, whether you're present simply to attend arguments or arguing before a judge. Pay attention to these three security rules to know so you don't get caught off guard when walking up the courtroom steps.

Lawyer Rule 60'd Into Sanctions; Other Firm Escapes Malpractice

Note to future lawyers. Here are things you don't do in a deposition, held in an expensive foreign locale, such as Italy: coach witnesses, tell them how to answer questions, or walk out and cancel all remaining depositions without a really good reason.

Such "totally inappropriate" conduct is "deserving of sanctions."

How much in sanctions? Close to a million dollars, with attorneys' fees and expenses included. The original order, however, ordered sanctions against the plaintiffs, not their attorney. After the district court clarified via Rule 60(a), the lawyer's lawyer missed the deadline to appeal.

Lawyer gets stuck with a $1,000,000 tab. Lawyer's lawyer gets a malpractice suit.

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.

No Bivens Relief for 28 Military Sexual Assault Victims

"The law is now settled that Bivens suits are never permitted for constitutional violations arising from military service, no matter how severe the injury or how egregious the rights infringement."

That statement, from Erwin Chemerinsky's Federal Jurisdiction treatise sums up the opinion quite well. Twenty-eight current and former members of the armed forces attempted to sue two former Secretaries of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, for their "acts and omissions" that enabled a "military culture of tolerance for sexual crimes perpetrated against them."

4th Circuit Announces Two More (Un)exciting Rule Changes

Like it or not, the world is becoming paperless. Email killed snail-mail years ago, e-books are slowly eroding the demand for paperbacks (though the ridiculously high prices of e-books are slowing that change), and like it or not, court opinions are moving wholly online as well.

Yep, the courts are catching up to WestLaw. After all, who uses hardback reporters anyway? My volumes of Supreme Court Lawyers' Edition are about 15 years out-of-date and only exist to make me look smart (and compliment my office motif).

90 Days to File Forfeiture: SOL or Jurisdictional Prereq?

Be forewarned: the following discussion of civil asset forfeiture, statutes of limitations, and subject matter jurisdiction is so inherently intriguing that it may present a hazard to your health.

Donald Wilson is a drug trafficker. It's not much of a profession, but he made a living, at least until the feds stepped in. Adding insult to injury, the government filed a civil forfeiture proceeding against $13,963 that was seized from Wilson in October 2006. Unfortunately for all of us, they filed their action late, leading to years of litigation over the funds.

Jail for Cursing in Court, But No Time for Tardiness

Robert Peoples is going to have to learn some respect. Down in the Fourth Circuit, the legal profession is still held in high regard. There is a certain decorum that is expected of all those who step foot in the hallowed halls of a mid-Atlantic courtroom.

Peoples was pressing multiple claims against prison officials due to his treatment while he was a guest of the state. After he showed up late during jury selection, Judge Cameron McGowan Currie warned him to be on time. He was late on the first day of trial. Judge Currie stated that next time, his claims would be dismissed with prejudice.

Fourth Circuit to Gun Shop: Break the Law Before Fighting It

Hire Order, Ltd, and Robert Privott, are both good ol' boys and good boys. These two entities, which operate federally-licensed gun shops in Virginia and North Carolina, follow the law to perfection. That law, however, prevents these two licensed dealers from selling guns to each other at a gun show.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' predecessor issued Revenue Ruling 69-59 in 1969. This ruling essentially stated that holders of federal firearms licenses could not sell guns at any location outside of their licensed premises, including gun shows. In 1986, the Firearms Owners' Protection Act amended the law to state that sales could occur at gun shows in the same state as the licensed premises. The ATF's 1969 ruling continues to bar out-of-state gun show sales.