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

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Plaintiffs, current and former Fairfax County fire captains, filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201-219, alleging that they are entitled to overtime pay. The court held that plaintiffs do not fall within the FLSA's exception for certain executive and administrative employees whose primary job duties are management-related. In this case, the County has not submitted evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to find, under the clear and convincing standard, that plaintiffs’ primary duty is anything other than first response. Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to overtime compensation under the FLSA. The court reversed and remanded. View "Morrison v. County of Fairfax, VA" on Justia Law

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Movant seeks authorization to file a second or successive application for habeas relief. The court held that a convicted state prisoner, such as movant in this case, challenging the execution of his sentence is required to apply for authorization to file a second or successive habeas application. According to the plain language of the statutes at issue and the purpose and context of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), movant's petition, although styled as a 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition, is governed by 28 U.S.C. 2254, and as such, should be treated as an “application under section 2254.” Therefore, when a prisoner being held “pursuant to the judgment of a State court” files a habeas petition claiming the execution of his sentence is in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, the more specific section 2254 “and all associated statutory requirements” shall apply, regardless of the statutory label the prisoner chooses to give his petition. In this case, movant must move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the second or successive application. Movant's petition is second or successive, and he does not meet the criteria for authorization. Accordingly, the court denied the motion. View "In Re: Terrence Wright" on Justia Law
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Defendant appealed his 60-month sentence after pleading guilty to illegal reentry into the United States. The district court concluded that defendant's 1997 aggravated assault conviction under Texas Penal Code 22.02(a) constituted a predicate “crime of violence” under the reentry sentencing guideline, USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(A). The court concluded that the Texas legislature, in setting out alternative means of satisfying the mens rea element of the Texas statute, did not render the statute divisible such that the state law can be said to have created two offenses, one involving a reckless mens rea, the other involving a knowing or intentional mens rea. The court concluded that the Texas aggravated assault offense created in section 22.02(a) is broader than the federal generic “aggravated assault” offense qualifying under the reentry guideline as supporting an enhanced sentencing range, is not divisible, and therefore cannot support the application of a 16-level enhancement under the reentry guideline. Accordingly, the court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Barcenas-Yanez" on Justia Law
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Petitioner challenged the denial of her petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief as next friend of R.M.B., her minor son. R.M.B., a native of Guatemala, is being held as an unaccompanied alien child (a UAC) by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of DHHS. The court could not say that R.M.B.’s detention is based on an erroneous application or interpretation of the UAC definition where the Office found, after conducting a home study and gathering other evidence, that petitioner was incapable of providing for R.M.B.’s physical and mental well-being. The court rejected petitioner's contention that the Office lacks authority to detain R.M.B. now that his immigration proceedings have terminated. Even after R.M.B.'s immigration proceedings concluded, the Office was not entitled to release him to anyone unless it first determined that the proposed custodian was capable of providing for his physical and mental well-being. The court rejected petitioner's substantive due process claim, concluding that the Office's determination suffices to address any substantive due process concerns and renders inapposite those decisions involving challenges to state interference with control of children by fit parents. The court concluded, however, that the district court, in denying petitioner's procedural due process claim, did not utilize the proper Mathews v. Eldridge framework. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Beltran v. Cardall" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a political figure in the Libertarian Party of Virginia, filed suit challenging Virginia's three-tiered ballot ordering law, Virginia Code 24.2-613. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff principally argued on appeal that Virginia's three-tiered ballot ordering law advantages candidates from what he calls “major parties” and disadvantages candidates like him that hail from what he calls “minor parties.” The court noted that the text and history of the Constitution, well established Supreme Court precedent, and the structural principles inherent in our federal system counsel respect for the Virginia General Assembly’s power to administer elections in Virginia. With state legislatures’ longstanding authority to regulate elections in mind, the court employed the Supreme Court’s Anderson/Burdick decisional framework to distinguish those laws whose burdens are uniquely unconstitutional from the majority of laws whose validity is unquestioned. The court concluded that the three-tiered ballot ordering law imposes little burden on plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and Virginia articulates several important interests supporting the law. The ballot ordering law imposes only the most modest burdens on plaintiff's rights where the law is facially neutral and nondiscriminatory. Furthermore, the law is supported by important regulatory interests where the law may assist the voting process by reducing voter confusion and preserving party-order, as well as reduce multi-party factionalism and promote political stability. Therefore, the court concluded that it has no basis for finding the state statute unconstitutional and affirmed the judgment. View "Sarvis v. Alcorn" on Justia Law

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Movant seeks authorization to file a successive habeas corpus application under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Movant alleged that despite multiple attempts over the years to obtain his entire case file from his trial and appellate counsel, it was not until May 2014 that he was provided with a particular document suggesting that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The document is a proposed plea agreement. Movant claims that his counsel was ineffective for failing to communicate this offer and that movant was prejudiced as a result. The court concluded that the plea offer would have no bearing on the deliberations of a reasonable factfinder regarding movant's innocence or guilt. Newly discovered evidence that a defendant may have lost out on a favorable plea offer fits neither of section 2244(b)’s exceptions to the bar on successive habeas applications. Accordingly, the court denied the motion. View "In re: John McFadden" on Justia Law
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NAAMJP filed suit challenging the conditions placed on the privilege of admission to the Bar of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in Local Rule 701. Among other things, the Rule contains requirements based on the state of licensure and, in some instances, the location of the attorney’s law office. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and denied NAAMJP's motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that Rule 701 does not violate the First Amendment where it qualifies as a general applicable licensing provision, prescribing which attorneys may practice in the District Court based on their state of licensure in relation to the location of their principal law office; Rule 701 does not violate the Equal Protection Clause where it does not infringe a fundamental right or disadvantage a suspect class; Rule 701 does not violate the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. 2071, where the Rule does not violate any Acts of Congress or any federal rules of practice and procedure adopted by the Supreme Court pursuant to section 2072; and Rule 701 does not violate the Supremacy Clause where it remains a federal rule prescribed pursuant to federal statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "NAAMJP v. Lynch" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Jamaica, seeks review of the BIA's denial of his motion to reopen as untimely and denial of his request for sua sponte reopening. Determining that it has jurisdiction, the court concluded that the Board conducted an appropriate, individualized inquiry into whether petitioner exhibited reasonable diligence to warrant equitable tolling. Having articulated and applied the correct standard in reviewing petitioner's claim for equitable tolling, the court concluded that the Board did not abuse its discretion. Nor did it abuse its discretion for either of the procedural deficiencies that Lawrence asserts. Because the Board appropriately analyzed and rejected petitioner’s request for equitable tolling, the court denied petitioner's motion to reopen as untimely. As to petitioner's request for sua sponte reopening, the court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review how the Board exercises its sua sponte discretion. View "Lawrence v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff appealed the denial of his applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). Plaintiff sought disability benefits, alleging disability beginning December 8, 2006, due to uveitis; back pain, breathing and memory problems; anxiety; depression; and blackouts. The court reversed and remanded, concluding that the ALJ erred by not conducting a function-by-function analysis of plaintiff's limitations and by not adequately explaining his decision. View "Monroe v. Colvin" on Justia Law
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Father petitioned for the return of his children to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, T.I.A.S. No. 11670, 19 I.L.M. 1501. The district court declined to order the children returned, and Father appealed. Reviewing the record facts as a whole, the court agreed with the district court that a preponderance of the facts establishes that Son has significant connections demonstrating a secure, stable, and permanent life in his new environment. Son is therefore “settled” within the meaning of the Convention. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s determination that Son is “settled” within the meaning of the Hague Convention and affirmed its decision not to exercise its discretion to order Son returned. View "Alcala v. Hernandez" on Justia Law