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Tag Archives: Constitutional

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Effective Assistance of Counsel – Alibi Witness – Failure to Investigate – Victim’s Testimony – Time Discrepancies – No Cumulative Effect (access required)

Walker v. State Two instances of deficient performance by trial counsel - a failure to investigate a potential alibi witness and a failure to question the victim about discrepancies between her testimony and pre-trial statements - did not amount to ineffective assistance of counsel.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Effective Assistance of Counsel – Adequate Communication – Witnesses (access required)

Smith v. State The uncontradicted evidence shows that trial counsel met with petitioner prior to trial, discussed the discovery materials with him, and provided petitioner the opportunity to explain his version of the events. Counsel further prepared for the defense by arranging a polygraph examination and meeting with petitioner’s mother to discuss the incident and petitioner’s defense. Counsel also consulted with petitioner throughout the two-day trial.

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Civil Rights – Virginia FOIA – Non-Citizen Request – Access Denied – Constitutional – Privileges & Immunities Clause (access required)

McBurney v. Young Non-Virginia citizens who were denied access under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to certain public records from Virginia state agencies, including information related to a child support matter and county real estate assessments, lose their suit alleging the Virginia Freedom of Information violated the Privileges & Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution Clause, in this 4th Circuit decision. Each plaintiff alleges different facts to support the common argument that the VFOIA violates the U.S. Constitution.

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Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Writ Reversed – N.C. Death-Row Defendant – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance Claim — Brady Evidence – Mental Retardation (access required)

Richardson v. Branker The 4th Circuit reverses a district court’s issuance of a habeas writ to a North Carolina death-row defendant, as the proper review by the federal court indicates the conviction cannot be overturned for the claimed errors of ineffective assistance of counsel, withholding of exculpatory evidence or proof of petitioner’s mental retardation.

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Criminal Practice – Gun Possession – Constitutional – Second Amendment – Domestic Violence Protective Order (access required)

U.S. v. Mahin The 4th Circuit affirms the 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) firearm conviction of a man who left the courtroom after being served with a domestic-violence protective order and went to a firing range for target practice, and then violated the order by going to the marital home to leave his firing-range membership card for his wife; however, the appellate court reverses one count of the conviction because simultaneous possession of firearms and ammunition can only support one count under the statute.

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Criminal Practice – Gang-Related Crimes – Constitutional — Confrontation Clause – Anonymous Witnesses (access required)

U.S. v. Ramos-Cruz The 4th Circuit says a defendant convicted of racketeering and various gang-related crimes cannot overturn his convictions with a claim that his Confrontation Clause rights were violated because the government allowed two El Salvadorian police officers to testify without revealing their identities to the defense.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Second Amendment – Marijuana User — Dangerous Neighborhood – Firearms Conviction Vacated (access required)

U.S. v. Carter A marijuana user who asserts his Second Amendment right to possess firearms for his own protection in a dangerous neighborhood has his firearms conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) vacated by the 4th Circuit; Congress might have reasonably concluded that disarming drug users could reduce gun violence, and the government gets another chance to make a sufficient record to uphold the statute.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional — Prior Military Detention – ‘Enemy Combatant’ — No Bivens-Type Claim (access required)

Lebron v. Rumsfeld Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, and his mother, may not sue for legal and equitable relief based on Padilla’s prior military detention as an “enemy combatant”; the 4th Circuit upholds the district court decision refusing plaintiffs’ request for a declaration that defendant government officials’ policies were unconstitutional, an order enjoining Padilla’s future designation as an enemy combatant and nominal damages of one dollar from each defendant.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Second Amendment — Gun Possession – Domestic Violence Offender – Intermediate Review — Recidivism (access required)

U.S. v. Chapman In its second decision in a month, the 4th Circuit upholds the federal statute making gun possession by a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence against defendant’s as-applied constitutional challenge; social science reports about recidivism among persons arrested for domestic violence and the frequency of gun violence support the federal gun statute under intermediate scrutiny review, the 4th Circuit says.

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Constitutional – Free Speech – Civil Practice – Preliminary Injunction – Occupy Columbia – Camping – State House Grounds (access required)

Occupy Columbia v. Haley Plaintiffs are likely to establish that Occupy Columbia’s camping on the State House grounds is expressive conduct, and defendants’ unwritten and ever-changing “conditions” for such an encampment are not valid time, place and manner restrictions. Defendants are preliminarily enjoined from interfering with plaintiffs’ 24-hour occupation of the State House grounds, including sleeping on the grounds and the use of sleeping bags and tents.

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