It’s been a busy week here in Richmond, and I’ve fallen behind a bit in passing along notable Fourth Circuit opinions. Here’s a catch-up post reporting on six published opinions: five from this past week, and one from the week before that.
The published opinion from the week before last came in United States v. Perez. A panel consisting of Judges Gregory and Davis, together with Senior Sixth Circuit Judge Damon Keith affirmed a drug conspiracy conviction while reversing an obstruction of justice sentencing enhancement. Judge Gregory wrote the unanimous opinion, which requires district courts to “provide a finding that clearly establishes each of the three elements” of an obstruction of justice enhancement. The elements are that the defendant “(1) gave false testimony; (2) concerning a material matter; (3) with willful intent to deceive.”
The same panel issued another published opinion (one of last week’s five) in United States v. Guijon-Ortiz. The panel rejected a challenge to the admission of evidence following a roadside stop. The opinion describes the question presented as “a narrow one: Once the officer learned that there were no outstanding warrants, and having been provided an LPR card by the defendant as identification, was [the officer] permitted to then call ICE–a call that took some portion of ‘a few minutes’–to verify the validity of the LPR card?” The panel answered this question in the affirmative. Judge Davis wrote the opinion, in which Judge Gregory and Senior Judge Keith joined.
Two of last week’s published opinions came from a panel composed of Judge Niemeyer, Judge King, and Senior Judge Hamilton. Both were unanimous decisions.
Judge Niemeyer wrote for the panel in Preston v. Leake, rejecting a First Amendment challenge to North Carolina’s prohibition against registered lobbyists’ contributions to certain campaigns for state office.
Judge King authored the opinion in Tassi v. Holder, vacating an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals in a ruling that makes it much more likely that the petitioner will be able to establish her claims of past persecution and a well-founded fear of future prosecution.
In an appeal decided the same day, Judge Keenan wrote the panel opinion in United States v. Medford, affirming the conviction of Bobby Lee Medford (former Sheriff of Buncombe County, North Carolina) on several charges arising out of bribery related to unlawful video poker machines. Chief Judge Traxler and Senior Judge Hamilton joined in the opinion.
Finally, later in the week, Chief Judge Traxler authored an opinion in United States v. Cabrera-Beltran, in which Judges Wilkinson and Niemeyer joined. The court affirmed the defendant’s convictions and sentence (for crimes related to a drug conspiracy) against several challenges.