Law digest – 9/4/14


Criminal Procedure, Search and seizure: DNA testing of 13 identifying “junk” loci within defendant’s genetic material, not obtained by means of a physical intrusion into his physical body, did not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, and the defendant’s suppression motion was therefore properly denied. Raynor v. State, No. 69, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0827-20, 47 pages.

Evidence, Prior inconsistent statement: The trial court properly excluded a police report from evidence, where the defense sought to use it to impeach a witness’s testimony with extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent oral statement by the witness, but failed to establish that the report was a substantially verbatim version of the prior oral statement or that the witness had previously adopted or ratified the writing as an accurate summary of the prior statement. Brooks v. State, No. 46, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0827-22, 61 pages.

Labor & Employment, Employment contract: A for-cause provision in a written employment contract negates the presumption of at-will employment, and a written employment agreement that has a for-cause provision and no definite term of employment is better described as “continuous for-cause” than as a “lifetime contract.” Spacesaver Systems, Inc. v. Adam, No. 98, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0827-23, 30 pages.



Criminal Law, Rape: In defendant’s trial for rape and related offenses, the evidence was sufficient to show victim’s lack of consent, a required element of the crime, where trial judge found, based on the record, that victim was asleep at the time of the rape and was therefore unable to consent. Travis v. State, No. 1774, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0826-00, 69 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Recusal: The judge in a murder-for-hire trial did not err in denying a motion for recusal based on the fact that the judge had previously been the target of a murder-for-hire plot, because there was no evidence the previous crime had any overall impact on the judge’s ability to do his job or that his decision-making in a spousal murder-for-hire case would in any way be tainted. Bishop v. State, No. 2106, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 14-0826-01, 42 pages.



Civil Procedure, Class certification: In certifying five classes, U.S. District Court abused its discretion by failing to rigorously analyze whether the administrative burden of identifying class members in the ownership cases would render class proceedings too onerous and by improperly lowering the plaintiffs’ burden of proof to demonstrate the prospective classes’ compliance with the commonality requirement of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure regarding class certification. EQT Production Company v. Adair, No. 13-414, EQT Production Company v. Adkins, No. 13-415, EQT Production Company v. Kiser, No. 13-418, CNX Gas Company, LLC v. Hale, No. 13-419, CNX Gas Company, LLC v. Addison, No. 13-421, Buckhorn Coal Company LLLP; Commonwealth Coal Corporation; Harrison-Wyatt LLC v. Addison; Hale, No. 13-422. RecordFax No. 14-0819-60, 56 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Joinder: U.S. District Court did not err in joining defendant’s felon-in-possession counts with his conspiracy counts because the former helped paint the complete picture of defendant’s criminal enterprise, and, even if improper, the joinder caused no actual prejudice; however, the court erred in accepting the incorrect calculation of defendant’s criminal history category in his Presentence Investigation Report. United States v. McLaurin, No. 13-4138; United States v. Lowery, No. 13-4139. RecordFax No. 14-0814-60, 50 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search and seizure: In defendant’s criminal trial for drug and firearms crimes, district court correctly declined to apply the exclusionary rule to exclude evidence discovered after police, acting without a warrant, attached a global positioning system device to defendant’s car, because police search was conducted in objectively reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent at the time. United States v. Stephens, No. 12-4625. RecordFax No. 14-0819-61, 46 pages.

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