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4th Circuit

Apr 24, 2023

Criminal Practice – Felon in Possession – Rehaif Error – Collateral Review

In Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), the Supreme Court announced a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on collateral review. Rehaif held that a person commits a firearms-possession offense only if he knew that he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm. Rehaif therefore altered the […]

Mar 13, 2023

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Meth Possession – Mandatory Minimum – Safety Valve

The First Step Act allows a district court to reject a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a defendant convicted of possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of methamphetamine if, among other things, “the defendant does not have—(A) more than 4 criminal history points, excluding any criminal history points resulting from a 1-point […]

Mar 13, 2023

Civil Practice – Standing – Article III Injury – Statutory Violation – SSN

Plaintiff alleges a violation of South Carolina’s Financial Identity Fraud and Identity Theft Protection Act based on defendant’s website requiring plaintiff to enter six digits of his social security number in order to learn whether he had been affected by the Equifax data breach. Although plaintiff thus alleges an injury in law, since he does […]

Mar 13, 2023

Constitutional – Vagueness – Free Speech – Schools & School Boards – Disorderly Conduct & Disruption of School Statutes – Expungement Remedy

As they are ordinarily understood, the terms used in South Carolina’s disorderly conduct statute – “disorderly,” “boisterous,” “obscene,” and “profane” – make it hard to escape the conclusion that any person passing a schoolyard during recess is likely witnessing a large-scale crime scene. The pre-2018 version of South Carolina’s disturbing schools statute’s prohibition o[...]

Mar 13, 2023

Administrative – Social Security – Disability – Chronic Depression – Weight to Psychiatrist’s Opinion – Cherry-Picked Medical Record

In denying disability benefits to plaintiff, who has suffered from and been treated for chronic depression for many years, the administrative law judge erred in according little weight to the opinion of plaintiff’s treating psychiatrist and in cherry-picking the few good moments represented in plaintiff’s medical record while ignoring the toll that her persistent, very […]

Mar 13, 2023

Environmental – Administrative – Delayed Bridge Project – Original EIS

Years after the defendant-agencies developed their original environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed bridge over Currituck Sound, the state renewed its plans to build the bridge. In the interim, coastal development and traffic projections decreased, and expected sea level rises increased. Nevertheless, since the agencies took a “hard look” at the changes’ effects on […]

Mar 13, 2023

Insurance – Life – Labor & Employment – ERISA – Policy Conversion Deadline – Equitable Tolling

Even though plaintiff’s decedent, an ERISA plan participant, was incapacitated by illness during the period when he could have converted his employer-provided life insurance policy to an individual policy, and even though the participant tried to make the conversion 26 days after the conversion period ended, the defendant-plan administrator did not abuse its discretion in […]

Mar 13, 2023

Constitutional – First Amendment – Undercover Reporting – Property Protection Act

To the extent several subsections of North Carolina’s Property Protection Act punish newsgathering activities, those subsections violate the First Amendment. We affirm the district court’s determination that the subsections or the Property Protection Act (the Act) violate plaintiffs’ constitutional rights but reverse the district court’s striking of two subsections in their entirety. Peopl[...]

Mar 13, 2023

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Self-Incrimination – Supervised Release – Child Pornography Possession

Defendant’s supervised release could not have been revoked if he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, so defendant was not excused from invoking his right to remain silent by the “classic penalty situation” when his probation officer asked if he was in possession of child pornography. We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s […]

Mar 13, 2023

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Due Process – Pretrial Detention – Competence – Involuntary Medication

Even though defendant has languished in pretrial detention for nearly six years while the government attempts to restore his competency to stand trial, since (1) the grave offenses – involving child sexual abuse material – with which defendant is charged carry maximum penalties ranging from 15 to 30 years of imprisonment (and two of which […]

Mar 10, 2023

Bankruptcy – Asbestos – Insurance & Trust Fund – Insurer’s Standing

The bankruptcy-debtor formerly produced asbestos-containing products. Its commercial general liability insurer seeks relief from the debtor’s bankruptcy plan because, under the plan, claims under the insurer’s policy do not get the same anti-fraud screening protection that uninsured claims will get before being paid from the debtor’s trust fund. However, if the debtor had not filed […[...]

Mar 10, 2023

Intellectual Property – Copyright & Trademark – Personal Jurisdiction – Dutch Company – Software – Handshake Deal – Preliminary Injunction

The founder of the defendant-Dutch software company learned of the plaintiff-North Carolina software company’s product and reached into North Carolina to initiate a deal between the two companies. The companies entered into an oral contract that was to be substantially performed in North Carolina, the companies’ employees worked closely together, and defendant’s founder even visited [&hellip[...]

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