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Law digest – 1/21/15


Constitutional Law, Freedom of expression: District court did not err in granting summary judgment to city on claims that a city sign ordinance, which exempted from regulation flags and other governmental and religious emblems, violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights; the exemptions indicated no preference for a particular speaker or message and were reasonably related to the city’s interests in promoting traffic safety and aesthetics, thus, the ordinance was a content-neutral restriction on speech that satisfied intermediate scrutiny. Central Radio Company, Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Virginia, No. 13-1996. TDR #15-0113-60, 29 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Insanity acquittal: Under the federal commitment statute, which provides for commitment or release based on an insanity acquittee’s dangerousness, district court did not err in delaying defendant’s commitment proceedings arising from an earlier insanity acquittal until defendant was released from the term of imprisonment he was currently serving for a separate, later conviction, because the delay would serve the purposes of the federal commitment statute. United States v. Conrad, No. 13-7384. TDR #15-0113-61, 20 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Joinder: District court erred in joining two carjacking counts against defendant with a felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm charge because the felon-in-possession count arose out of a distinct incident unrelated to the carjacking which occurred 17 days later, with nothing tying the two events together other than the defendant, and the felon-in-possession count was thus not an offense of the same or similar character as the carjacking counts. United States v. Hawkins, No. 08-4576. TDR #15-0113-62, 32 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search and seizure: Law enforcement officers who, suspecting defendant of violating the terms of his supervised release by changing residences without notice, obtained and executed an arrest warrant at defendant’s new home, violated the rights of defendant and his roommates when, after finishing a protective sweep of the apartment, they conducted a walk-through and dog sniff; under applicable 4th Circuit precedent, once the protective sweep had ended, the officers needed a search warrant to go further. United States v. Hill, No. 13-4806, United States v. Barker, No. 13-4811, United States v. Dunigan, No. 13-4820. TDR #15-0113-, pages.

Immigration Law, Labor-certification application: Federal statutory provision under which an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States may be eligible for adjustment of status if he is the beneficiary of a labor-certification application filed on or before April 30, 2001, operates as a statute of repose that is not subject to equitable tolling, even if the deadline was missed due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Prasad v. Holder, No. 14-1034. TDR #14-0112-60, 15 pages.

Immigration Law, Removal: Virginia law on unauthorized use of a motor vehicle does not qualify categorically as an “aggravated felony” for purposes of the federal statute authorizing the removal of any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission to the United States; therefore, the appellate court vacated an order of removal against the petitioner, a Honduran citizen and lawful permanent U.S. resident. Castillo v. Holder, No. 14-1085. TDR #15-0114-60, 17 pages.

Workers’ Compensation, Exclusive remedy provision: The exclusivity provision of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act barred a personal injury lawsuit filed in a Virginia district court by an employee of a North Carolina corporation against a subcontractor, a Virginia corporation, because the employee’s injury occurred in Virginia and the subcontractor was a statutory co-employee under Virginia law. Demetres v. East West Construction, No. 14-1180. TDR #15-0115-60, 11 pages.