On May 10, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit composed of Judge Motz, Judge Davis, and Judge Wynn heard arguments in two cases challenging the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The opinions in those two cases have yet to be released. That same morning, the panel also heard arguments in two criminal cases, United States v. Dietz and United States v. Darcus.
On May 20, the panel issued an unpublished order dismissing the appeal in United States v. Darcus. The appeal was from a conviction based on a plea agreement that included a waiver of the right to appeal. The government sought to enforce the waiver by means of a motion to dismiss, and the Fourth Circuit granted the motion. The order was entered by Judge Davis, with the concurrence of Judge Motz and Judge Wynn.
This past Thursday, August 18, the panel issued an opinion affirming the conviction and sentence in United States v. Dietz, the other non-healthcare case from the May 10 panel. Judge Wynn wrote the opinion, which was unpublished and unanimous.
The opinion rejects challenges to evidentiary rulings, the denial of a motion to substitute counsel, and a challenge to the sentence (which was 35 years’ imprisonment, a variance from the Guidelines lifetime imprisonment sentence). The underlying kidnapping and carjacking crimes arose out of two romantic relationships, which culminated in Dietz’s arrest after a twelve-hour hostage situation. Among Dietz’s demands was for “a solicitor, or Georgia state prosecutor, ‘to agree to not make any charges.’” The opinion does not say whether such an agreement was made. In any event, Dietz does not appear to have made a similar demand of the federal government, which ultimately prosecuted him.