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18 U.S.C. 2339B prohibits anyone from knowingly providing or attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to provide and of providing on numerous occasions material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339B. The Fourth Circuit rejected defendants' contention that the district court erred in denying their motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to warrants issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because the evidence was obtained unconstitutionally in light of FISA's ex parte and in camera judicial review process. The court held that the district court's adoption of a test to determine whether someone was part of a foreign terrorist organization for purposes of section 2339B was unnecessary and resulted from a misunderstanding of what section 2339B required in the context of this case. However, the district court appropriately found both defendants guilty of violating section 2339B. Finally, the district court did not err in applying sentencing enhancements under USSG 2M5.3(b)(1)(E) for support of a foreign terrorist organization with the intent, knowledge, or reason to believe it would be used to assist in the commission of a violent act. View "United States v. Dhirane" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's 24 month sentence after he admitted to four violations of the conditions of his supervised release. The court held that the record amply demonstrated that the district court, in reaching its decision to impose the recommended sentence, considered defendant's arguments for a downward variance and addressed several of them, while highlighting the seriousness of the violations, as well as defendant's extensive criminal history. View "United States v. Gibbs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to a federal drug trafficking conspiracy and waived his right to appeal his conviction and "whatever sentence is imposed," except on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. The Fourth Circuit held that defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to appeal; even valid appeal waivers did not bar claims that a factual basis was insufficient to support a guilty plea; and, in this case, the district court did not err, plain or otherwise, in concluding that a factual basis supported defendant's guilty plea. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part and affirmed in part. View "United States v. McCoy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against State's Attorney Oglesby for violations of his civil rights, and the State of Maryland under Title VII, asserting a vicarious liability claim against Maryland. The Fourth Circuit held that prosecutorial immunity barred plaintiff's claims against Oglesby where the reviewing and evaluating evidence in preparation for trial, making judgments about witness credibility, and deciding which witnesses to call and which cases may be prosecuted all were directly connected to the judicial phase of the criminal process, protected by absolute immunity. The court held, however, that no reasonable employee could believe that Oglesby violated Title VII at the trial-preparation meeting to which plaintiff objected, and thus plaintiff's allegations failed to state a claim under Title VII and should be dismissed. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and reversed in part, and remanded. View "Savage v. Maryland" on Justia Law

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These appeal arose from the dismissal of three consumer actions based on Virginia state law claims against Hyundai, regarding misrepresentations the company made regarding EPA estimated fuel economy for the Hyundai Elantra. The Western District of Virginia dismissed with prejudice the claims in all three actions, except one claim in the Gentry action. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the Gentry appeal for lack of jurisdiction because one claim remained pending before the district court. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Adbul-Mumit and Abdurahman actions for failure to satisfy federal pleading standards. The court also affirmed the denial of plaintiffs' post-dismissal request for leave to amend their complaints in those actions. View "Adbul-Mumit v. Alexandria Hyundai, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a videographer, and his video production company, filed suit against North Carolina, alleging that plaintiff's copyrights were violated when North Carolina published video footage and a still photograph that he took of the 18th century wreck of a pirate ship that sank off the North Carolina coast. Plaintiff and his company also sought to declare unconstitutional a 2015 state law, N.C. Gen. Stat. 121-25(b), that provided that photographs and video recordings of shipwrecks in the custody of North Carolina are public records. The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss with prejudice the claims against the state officials in their individual capacities and to dismiss without prejudice the remaining claims. The court held that North Carolina did not waive its sovereign immunity when it signed the 2013 Settlement Agreement; the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act did not validly abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity; and the Ex parte Young exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity did not apply in this case. View "Allen v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a habeas petition based on a claim under Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994). Under Simmons, a defendant is entitled to inform the jury when the alternative to a death sentence is life in prison without parole, but only if the prosecutor puts at issue the risk that he will be a danger to society if released from prison. The court held that the state court reasonably applied Simmons to petitioner's sentence when it held that the prosecutor in his case had not argued future dangerousness in support of the death penalty. View "Warren v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court held that plaintiff engaged in protected activity under Title VII when she complained about what she reasonably believed to be a hostile environment and that her engagement in protected activity caused the City to fire her. In this case, a reasonable jury could find that the City knew or should have known that plaintiff was complaining about a Title VII violation and that her complaints caused her termination. Therefore, plaintiff has established a prima facie case of retaliation, and the district court's grant of summary judgment was improper. View "Strothers v. City of Laurel, Maryland" on Justia Law

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Defendants, members of the MS-13 gang, were convicted of a wide variety of crimes in aid of racketeering. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that the government did not violate its Brady and Napue duties; the government did not engage in a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct; Defendant Cerna was not entitled to a new trial where the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to give instructions as to lesser included offenses and in giving the purpose instruction; the court rejected Cerna's evidentiary challenges; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying severance motions; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant Guevara's statutory right to two lawyers; there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant Chavez's conviction and his suppression claim was rejected; and Guevara and Cerna's sentences did not violate the Eighth Amendment. View "United States v. Chavez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The imposition of $100 in court costs, assessed attendant to a prayer for judgment continued under North Carolina law, does not qualify as a "conviction" within the meaning of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision in a case where petitioner pleaded guilty in North Carolina state court to misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana. The state court withheld adjudication of guilt, instead entering a verdict of prayer for judgment continued and assessing petitioner $100 in court costs. View "Guzman Gonzalez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law