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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence for time served, followed by two years of supervised release to expire in April 2019. The court held that the case was not moot where defendant received a unitary sentence and a challenge to that sentence presented a live controversy, even though he has served the custodial portion of the sentence. The court held that, although the district court procedurally erred by imposing a time-served sentence that amounted to an unexplained variance from the Sentencing Guidelines, the error was harmless. View "United States v. Ketter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence of child pornography from a cell phone. The court held that, while the warrant affidavit alone did not establish probable cause, the evidence was admissible under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule articulated in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). Under the circumstances, the officer had a reasonable basis to believe that there was probable cause to search the phone. View "United States v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for several firearm and drug related offenses. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request to interview jurors, because juror interviews were unlikely to reveal evidence that racial animus was a significant motivating factor in the jury's vote to convict. The court also rejected defendant's claims of evidentiary error regarding the testimony of a detective and evidence of prior bad acts, and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony and evidence. View "United States v. Birchette" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence of criminal conspiracy for his involvement in a scheme to acquire and resell luxury vehicles using stolen identities. The court held that the district court's supplemental jury instruction did not constitute a constructive amendment in violation of the Fifth Amendment. In this case, the district court's instruction neither altered an element of the conspiracy charged by defendant's indictment nor prejudiced the defense. The court also held that the supplemental instruction did not violate defendant's right to a trial by an impartial jury. Finally, the court found no error in the district court's loss calculation and the evidence fully supported the district court's application of a two-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(4) for being in the business of receiving and selling stolen property. View "United States v. Camara" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner sought relief from the district court's gag order imposing stringent restrictions on participants and potential participants in a series of nuisance suits brought against the hog industry in North Carolina. Determining that a mandamus petition was the appropriate mechanism for challenging the gag order and that the mandamus petition was not moot, the Fourth Circuit held that petitioner met its burden of showing a clear and indisputable right to the requested relief. Applying strict scrutiny, the court held that the gag order breached basic First Amendment principles in both meaningful and material ways. In this case, the gag order harmed petitioner, farmers, and plaintiffs. Accordingly, the court vacated the gag order and allowed the parties to begin anew under the guidelines the court set forth. View "In re: Murphy-Brown, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendant and Johns Hopkins for defendant's actions as an expert witness in administrative hearings for the Federal Black Lung Program. The court held that the Witness Litigation Privilege protected witnesses, such as defendant, who testify in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings from later civil liability. In this case, the allegations made against defendant and his associates at Johns Hopkins fell squarely within the scope of the privilege. Furthermore, plaintiffs' claims were under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and RICO's civil cause of action manifests no intention to displace the privilege. View "Day v. Johns Hopkins Health System Corp." on Justia Law

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The district court awarded summary judgment to the state and entered an injunction that required DOE to remove not less than one metric ton of defense plutonium from the State within two years. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court properly enforced the statutory responsibilities imposed on the DOE by Congress and that it also appropriately crafted and entered the injunction. The court rejected the DOE's contention that the principles governing mandamus proceedings, as well as fundamental principles of injunctive relief, control the award of an injunction under the Administrative Procedure Act. The court held that the district court, in carefully crafting the injunction, gave full consideration to the positions of the parties and the record. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion or improperly burdened the DOE by imposing 50 U.S.C. 2566(c)'s two-year removal time frame. View "South Carolina v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of the Fund's action under the Tax Refund Statute, seeking to recover money paid to HHS as part of the Transitional Reinsurance Program of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The court held that the statute applies only to taxes and other sums collected by the Internal Revenue Service under the Internal Revenue Code, and thus the Court of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over the Fund's action. View "Electrical Welfare Trust Fund v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' constitutional and statutory challenges to Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority's (MWAA) ability to use toll revenues to fund projects enhancing access to Dulles airport. The court applied the standard from Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 513 U.S. 374 (1995), and held that MWAA was not a federal entity. The court held that MWAA's structure did not violate the non-delegation principle because MWAA exercises no power assigned elsewhere by the Constitution; MWAA did not violate the Guarantee Clause because it did not deny any state a republican form of government; and the court rejected plaintiff's claim that MWAA's use of toll road funds to build metro service to Dulles violates the command that funds only be spent on "capital and operating costs of the Metropolitan Washington Airports" and agreed with the Secretary of Transportation's interpretation of the Lease and Transfer Act. View "Kerpen v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying the EEOC's request under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) for retroactive monetary relief from the county. The court held that retroactive monetary awards, such as the back pay sought here, were mandatory legal remedies under the ADEA upon a finding of liability. The court's conclusion was not altered by the county's contention that the EEOC unduly delayed in the investigation. Accordingly, the court remanded for a determination of the amount of back pay to which the affected employees were entitled under the ADEA. View "EEOC v. Baltimore County" on Justia Law