The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard arguments this morning in the second of two pirate prosecutions in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. The first appeal, which the court heard in the spring, has been held up on a procedural issue and is being stayed pending the decision of today’s consolidated appeals. This second appeal–United States v. Abdi Dire (the lead case, together for argument with four other appeals)–was the second argued this morning in the Red Courtroom on the fourth floor of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Courthouse in Richmond. These appeals arise out of the convictions, after trial, of five Somali pirates for their attack on the U.S.S. Nicholas (preview post here). (UPDATE: For an AP write-up of the argument, see here.)
The panel that heard arguments was the same panel that heard arguments in the appeal arising out of the U.S.S. Ashland prosecution: Judge King, Judge Davis, and Judge Keenan.
Appellants divided their argument among three lawyers, each of whom addressed a distinct issue: whether the facts proven amounted to piracy under the law of nations; whether certain statements made by the captured pirates should be suppressed; and whether three 924(c) counts should be merged for sentencing.