The Fourth Circuit today issued two published opinions and a published order. A look at the three together reveals various ways in which one can end up in a published Fourth Circuit opinion or order, none of them very attractive.
Meyer v. Astrue is an appeal about the denial of Social Security disability benefits. In an opinion by Judge Motz, joined in by Judge King and Judge Duncan, the Fourth Circuit reversed the denial of benefits because the court could not determine from review of the record whether substantial evidence supported the denial of benefits. The facts portion of the opinion begins with the sentence: “In December 2004, Meyer fell 25 feet out of a deer stand while hunting and suffered significant injuries.”
Li v. Holder involves a petition for review of an order of the BIA remanding petitioner’s case to the IJ. Li is a Chinese citizen who entered the country illegally, was found to be removable, and was granted a voluntary departure. The BIA upheld a denial of Li’s application for adjustment of status, but remanded for the IJ to grant a new period of voluntary departure to provide certain “required advisals” that the IJ previously failed to provide. Li petitioned for review. The government contended that the Fourth Circuit lacked jurisdiction. The court disagreed based on binding panel precedent that it found had not been disturbed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dada v. Mukasey, 554 U.S. 1 (2008). The court nevertheless declined jurisdiction on prudential grounds. The opinion is interesting for its discussion of the circumstances under which intervening Supreme Court precedent displaces prior circuit precedent–not often. Judge Agee wrote the opinion, in which Judge Wilkinson and Judge Shedd joined.
The published order today was a public admonishment of a New York attorney based on five violations of the rules of professional misconduct. It seems piling on to repeat the allegations and plaster the attorney’s name around the internet more, so just read the admonishment if you’re interested.
There were a few other unpublished opinions in argued cases, the most notable of which is Haile v. Holder, in which a panel vacated a denial of asylum. The beneficiary of this ruling is a citizen of Eritrea who asserted past persecution and a well-founded fear of future persecution based on her political opinion and her membership in a social group (which was her family, as her father had been persecuted for his political activities). Judge Gregory wrote the opinion, in which Judge Motz and Judge Shedd joined.