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Tag Archives: Constitutional

Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – ‘Anonymous’ Jury – Murder Trial – First Impression – Constitutional – Hearsay Evidence – Murdered Witness — Conspiracy (access required)

U.S. v. Dinkins Using an ‘anonymous’ jury whose biographical information has been withheld from defense lawyers and defendants accused of drug-trafficking and the murder of government witnesses is not a reason to overturn their convictions; the 4th Circuit follows decisions by its sister circuits and provides guidelines for use of anonymous juries.

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Criminal Practice – Impersonating an Officer – Constitutional – First Amendment – Freedom of Speech (access required)

U.S. v. Chappell The 4th Circuit says a former deputy sheriff who told an officer he was a deputy in an attempt to avoid a speeding ticket cannot overturn his conviction for impersonating an officer by claiming the Virginia statute at issue, Va. Code § 18.2-174, violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

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Administrative – Beer & Wine Permit – Constitutional – Due Process – Violations – Evidence (access required)

South Carolina Department of Revenue v. Sandalwood Social Club The Department of Revenue cited respondent for the sole violation of failure to install and maintain a decibel meter on its property on April 2, 2010, in accordance with respondent’s beer and wine permit, a first offense violation for which DOR sought a $500 civil penalty. Nevertheless, the Administrative Law Court’s order listed at least two other violations and suspended respondent’s beer and wine permit and liquor by the drink license for 60 days. The ALC’s consideration of post-citation conduct for any purpose other than the credibility of respondent’s mitigation argument was an abuse of discretion.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Post-Arrest Silence – Four Mentions – Voluntary Manslaughter (access required)

State v. Williams Twelve hours after his arrest, defendant began saying his shooting victim had had a gun. The trial court allowed the state to comment on defendant’s initial post-arrest silence four times in violation of Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610 (1976). Although defendant only objected the first two times, we find the state’s comments to be prejudicial because the state attempted to show that, if defendant acted in self-defense, he would have immediately explained this to the police. Because the state directly tied defendant’s silence to his claim of self-defense, the error cannot be harmless.

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Civil Practice – Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Constitutional – First Amendment – Establishment Clause – Church Governance – Status Quo (access required)

McCain v. Brightharp In a congregational church, trustees and deacons attempted to force their pastor’s resignation, and the trustees and deacons allege they were removed from their positions without compliance with the church’s by-laws. The trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to restore the status quo in order to enable the church to act in accordance with its by-laws.

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Municipal – County Budget Cuts – Legislative Immunity – Constitutional – First Amendment – Opposition to Ambulance Fees (access required)

Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep’t Inc. v. Kurtz A group of local volunteer fire and rescue departments cannot sue county officials on a claim the county reduced funding in retaliation for plaintiffs’ opposition to local legislation; the 4th Circuit affirms dismissal of the suit by the district court, who declined to inquire into defendants’ alleged illicit motive behind an otherwise facially valid budgetary enactment.

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Schools & School Boards – Constitutional – Freedom of Religion – Establishment Clause – Academic Credit – Off-Campus Religious Instruction (access required)

Moss v. Spartanburg County School Dist. Seven (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-148-12, 21 pp.) (Niemeyer, J.) No. 11-1448, June 28, 2012; USDC at Spartanburg, Va. (Herlong, J.) 4th Cir. Holding: A high-school student and her parents lose their First Amendment Establishment ...

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Constitutional – Free Speech – Pregnancy Center – Limited Services – Municipal Ordinance – Sign Posting – No Licensed Medical Staff (access required)

Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, Md. A Maryland limited-services pregnancy services center wins an injunction against enforcement of a local ordinance that would require it to post a sign saying it did not have a “licensed medical professional on staff”; the 4th Circuit reverses the district court’s denial of an injunction to the center.

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