On August 5, a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit decided United States v. Graham, a Hobbs Act robbery case originating in the District of Maryland. Although the Appellants raised several challenges to their convictions, the most interesting issue was whether the Court should extend Fourth Amendment protections to records about where and when a mobile phone connected to antennas and electronic communications equipment on a cellular network, data called “cell-site location information” (CSLI). Senior Judge Andre Davis, one of the Fourth Circuit judges from Maryland, wrote the majority opinion, holding that users of cellphones have a reasonable expectation of privacy in historical CSLI, at least where such information covers an extensive period of time. Judge Davis was joined by Judge Thacker in that conclusion. One of the other Maryland judges on the Court, Judge Diana Motz, dissented from that portion of the majority opinion.
Rough Justice Is Not Simple Justice: Fourth Circuit Guts Wal-Mart v. Dukes and Creates Circuit Split by Ordering Title VII Claims Certified as Rule 23(b)(3) Class
Judges want to do justice in all cases. In civil-rights cases, they overwhelmingly want to promote equal opportunity and fight racial injustice in America. Title VII employment discrimination cases often provide them with that opportunity. Workers who present persuasive evidence that they were harassed or denied promotions because of their race often find sympathetic jurors and judges who are eager to faithfully enforce fair-employment laws.
Fourth Circuit issues a primer on statutory construction in siding with consumers against debt collectors
In Clark v. Absolute Collection Service, Inc., issued on January 31, 2014, the Fourth Circuit provided a useful review of several standard tools of statutory construction, the application of which led the Court to come down on the pro-consumer side of a federal Circuit split. Mr. and Mrs. Clark incurred debts at a health care facility in North Carolina. After they didn’t pay those debts, the creditor referred the debts to ACS, a third-party debt collector. ACS then sent collection notices to the Clarks that said, among other things: “ALL PORTIONS OF THIS CLAIM SHALL BE ASSUMED VALID UNLESS DISPUTED IN WRITING WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS” (emphasis added). Read More…