Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
Plaintiff, currently confined as a sexually dangerous person, filed suit against BOP, alleging various claims related to BOP's failure to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for medical appointments and other important interactions, its refusal to provide him with access to a videophone, and its failure to otherwise accommodate his deafness. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of BOP. The court concluded that plaintiff's evidence was sufficient to satisfy the objective and subjective components of the deliberate-indifference inquiry. Therefore, the district court erred by granting summary judgment on plaintiff's claim that BOP failed to provide him with constitutionally adequate medical care. The court also concluded that the district court erred by granting summary judgment as to plaintiff's claim that he was unreasonably denied access to the TTY device. Finally, the court agreed with plaintiff that the district court erred by relying on BOP's voluntary, post-litigation actions to reject his remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Heyer v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons" on Justia Law

By
Defendants Hill and Dodwell pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to suppress. The court affirmed the judgment based on the narrow ground that the traffic stop did not violate the court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence at the time it occurred. The court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that, under existing precedent, any pre-ticket delay did not warrant suppression. The court also concluded that defendants waived their challenge to any post-ticket extension by failing to specifically object on those grounds before the district court. View "United States v. Hill" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, a citizen of Thailand, appealed the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's determination that petitioner failed to demonstrate that she entered into her marriage in good faith, as required by 8 U.S.C. 1186a(c)(4)(B). In this case, petitioner sought a hardship waiver that would allow her to stay in the country despite the fact that her marriage to a United States citizen had ended in divorce. The court held that the BIA applied the wrong standard of review because the issue of whether petitioner established that her marriage was entered into in good faith under section 1186a(c)(4)(B) is a mixed question of fact and law, and thus the IJ's ultimate conclusion that the credited evidence did not meet the good faith standard is a legal judgment subject to de novo review. Accordingly, the court granted the petition and remanded for the BIA to review the IJ's determination under the proper standard. View "Upatcha v. Sessions" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Pakistan who was granted asylum in 1997, appealed the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal. The IJ found that petitioner deliberately misrepresented material facts in order to obtain travel documents and his lawful permanent resident status. The court affirmed the BIA's holding that because petitioner adjusted his status from an alien granted asylum to a lawful permanent resident, he no longer had protections based on his original asylum status. In this case, the court concluded that the BIA's interpretation of 8 U.S.C. 1159(b) was the best interpretation of the statute and that, in any event, it deserved Chevron deference. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Mahmood v. Sessions" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiffs are the Powhatan County Republican Committee and four individuals nominated by the Committee to be candidates for election to the Board of Supervisors for Powhatan County, Virginia. Plaintiffs filed suit against the Board of Elections, challenging the constitutionality of the portion of Virginia Code 24.2-613(B) that provides that only candidates in elections "for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices" may be identified on the ballot by the name of the political party that nominated them or by the term "Independent." The district court granted judgment in favor of the Board. The court concluded that the burden on associational rights imposed by Virginia's regulation of the use of party identifiers on official ballots is at most minimal and is amply justified by Virginia's important interests, which include minimizing partisanship at the local government level, promoting impartial governance, and maximizing the number of citizens eligible to hold local office under the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. 7321-7326; concluded that section 24.2-613(B)'s different treatment of local candidates and federal, statewide, and General Assembly candidates with respect to party identifiers on the ballot does not violate the Equal Protection Clause because such treatment is rationally related to legitimate governmental interests; and thus affirmed the judgment. View "Marcellus v. Virginia State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

By
Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg filed suit, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that Bishop Mark J. Lawrence violated the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq., by falsely advertising himself to be the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. The district court applied Brillhart v. Excess Insurance Co. of America and Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., abstaining in favor of related state court proceedings. The court vacated on appeal, concluding that Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, not Brillhart and Wilton, governs abstention decisions in actions where the plaintiff seeks both declaratory and nondeclaratory relief. On remand, the district court again abstained. The court concluded that, because the state and federal cases involve different parties and different claims, the district court abused its discretion under Colorado River by abstaining in favor of the state court proceedings. Accordingly, the court vacated the abstention order and remanded for further proceedings. View "vonRosenberg v. Lawrence" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's Firearm Safety Act (FSA), Md. Code, Crim. Law 4-303(a). The district court awarded judgment to defendants, concluding that the FSA is constitutional. A divided three-judge panel of this court then remanded, directing that the district court apply the more restrictive standard of strict scrutiny to the FSA. The panel's decision was vacated in its entirety by the court's grant of rehearing en banc in this case. The court concluded that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment. The court reasoned that it had no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the District of Columbia v. Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage. Nevertheless, the court also found it prudent to rule that — even if the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are somehow entitled to Second Amendment protection — the district court properly subjected the FSA to intermediate scrutiny and correctly upheld it as constitutional under that standard of review. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kolbe v. Hogan, Jr." on Justia Law

By
Virginia Uranium filed suit seeking a declaration that the ban on mining the Coles Hill uranium deposit was preempted by federal law and an injunction compelling the Commonwealth to grant uranium mining permits. The district court granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. On appeal, Virginia Uranium maintains that the Atomic Energy Act preempts Virginia's ban on uranium mining. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that Virginia's ban on conventional uranium mining is not preempted. The court explained that, because conventional uranium mining outside of federal lands is beyond the regulatory ambit of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it is not an "activity" under section 2021(k) of the Act. The court rejected Virginia Uranium's contention that uranium-ore milling and tailings storage are activities under section 2021(k) of the Act, and concluded that the Commonwealth’s mining ban does not purport to regulate an activity within the Act's reach. Finally, the court concluded that the district court properly dismissed the case where Congress's purposes and objectives in passing the Act are not materially affected by the Commonwealth's ban on conventional uranium mining. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Virginia Uranium v. Warren" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff brought an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to Maryland's firearms regulatory scheme, arguing that the scheme is unconstitutional as applied to him. Plaintiff is a convicted felon in Virginia who has had his civil rights restored by the Governor of Virginia and his firearms rights restored by the Virginia courts. Currently a resident of Maryland, plaintiff wants to obtain a permit for a handgun and possess a long gun, both of which he is unable to do in Maryland absent a full pardon from the Governor of Virginia. The district court dismissed his complaint for failure to state a claim. The court held that a state law felon cannot pass the first step of the United States v. Chester inquiry when bringing an as-applied challenge to a law disarming felons, unless that person has received a pardon or the law forming the basis of conviction has been declared unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful. The court further held that evidence of rehabilitation, the likelihood of recidivism, and the passage of time may not be considered at the first step of the Chester inquiry as a result. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff failed at step one of the Chester analysis. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Hamilton v. Pallozzi" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiffs challenged the dismissal of their pro se complaint that, inter alia, sought a declaration that Chase and U.S. Bank could not foreclose on their home. The district court dismissed certain counts based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), 12 U.S.C. 1821, and other counts for failure to state a claim. The court affirmed, concluding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over most of the counts (Counts 1, 2, 5-9, and 16-19) that plaintiffs appeal because they failed to exhaust their claims with the FDIC. The court further concluded that the other relevant counts for constructive fraud (Count 14) and negligence (Count 15) failed to state a claim. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by not providing a reason for denying plaintiffs' requests to amend their complaint. View "Willner v. Dimon" on Justia Law