United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Former judges
- 8 Location
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sometimes referred to as the Fourth Circuit, is one of the thirteen federal appellate courts. It has appellate jurisdiction over cases originating in federal courts in the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Rulings of the court are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States for appeal. The court was established in 1891 and has fifteen posts. The court is located at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Federal Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Article III judges
|Judge Barbara Keenan||Obama||3/2/2010-Present||Hiram Widener||Cornell University||George Washington University, 1974|
|Judge Steven Agee||W. Bush||7/1/2008-Present||Michael Luttig||Bridgewater College, 1974||University of Virginia Law, 1977|
|Judge Harvie Wilkinson||Reagan||8/13/1984-Present||1996-2003||John Butzner||Yale University, 1967||University of Virginia Law, 1972|
|Judge Paul Niemeyer||H.W. Bush||8/7/1990-Present||Harrison Winter||Kenyon College, 1962||Notre Dame Law, 1966|
|Judge Diana Motz||Clinton||6/16/1994-Present||New Seat||Vassar College, 1965||University of Virginia Law, 1968|
|Chief judge William Traxler||Clinton||10/1/1998-Present||2009-Present||Donald S. Russell||Davidson College, 1970||University of South Carolina Law, 1973|
|Judge Robert King||Clinton||10/9/1998-Present||Kenneth Hall||West Virginia University, 1961||West Virginia University Law, 1968|
|Judge Roger Gregory||Clinton||7/25/2001-Present||New Seat||Virginia State University, 1975||University of Michigan Law, 1978|
|Judge Dennis Shedd||W. Bush||11/19/2002-Present||Clyde Hamilton||Wofford College, 1975||University of South Carolina Law, 1978|
|Judge Allyson Duncan||W. Bush||8/15/2003-Present||Samuel Ervin||Hampton University, 1972||Duke Law, 1975|
|Judge Henry Floyd||Obama||10/3/2011-Present||Karen J. Williams||Wofford College, 1970||University of South Carolina Law, 1973|
|Judge James Wynn||Obama||8/5/2010-Present||James Phillips||University of North Carolina, 1975||Marquette University Law, 1979|
|Judge Albert Diaz||Obama||12/22/2010-Present||William Walter Wilkins||University of Pennsylvania, 1983||New York University Law School, 1988|
|Judge Stephanie Thacker||Obama||4/16/2012-Present||Blane Michael||Marshall University, 1987||West Virginia University Law, 1990|
|Judge Pamela Harris||Obama||2014-Present||Andre Davis||Yale, 1985||Yale Law, 1990|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge Clyde Hamilton||H.W. Bush||7/22/1991-11/30/1999||11/30/1999-Present||Wofford College, 1956||George Washington University Law, 1961|
|Senior Judge Andre Davis||Obama||11/10/2009-02/28/2014||02/28/2014-Present||University of Pennsylvania, 1971||University of Maryland Law, 1978|
|Senior Judge Robert Chapman||Reagan||9/19/1981-5/31/1991||5/31/1991-Present||University of South Carolina, 1945||University of South Carolina Law, 1949|
|Senior Judge James Phillips||Carter||8/11/1978-7/31/1994||7/31/1994-Present||Davidson College, 1943||University of North Carolina Law, 1948|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
The Fourth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Chief Justice John Roberts is the Circuit Justice for the Fourth Circuit.
The court hears appeals from the United States district courts in:
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September. **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.|
For a searchable list of decisions from the Fourth Circuit, please see:
Fourth Circuit Searchable Opinions
|• Obamacare subsidies receive conflicting treatment in the circuits (2014)||Click for summary→|
|A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that, despite hearty challenges, subsidies distributed through the federal healthcare exchange are legal. A total of 87% of the people who receive healthcare coverage through the federal Obamacare exchange also receive subsidies to make the coverage affordable. The panel of judges, which included judges Roger Gregory, Stephanie Thacker and Andre Davis, held that the subsidies were intended not only for citizens of states which chose to set up their own marketplaces, but for all taxpayers, even if their states chose not to set up a marketplace. A contradictory ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the same day, setting up another potential battle headed to the United States Supreme Court.
| • Challenge to Virginia ban on same-sex marriage appeal (2014)|
Judge(s):Henry Floyd, Roger Gregory and Paul Niemeyer (Bostic v. Rainey, et al, No. 14-1173)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Henry Floyd wrote the 2-1 opinion affirming the Eastern District of Virginia's ruling that found a ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. Judge Roger Gregory joined the majority opinion and Paul Niemeyer wrote the dissent. The majority found the defendants arguments that the law protected responsible procreation, proper child-rearing and the tradition of marriage, to be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Judge Floyd wrote in conclusion:
In dissent, Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote that the United States Constitution does not explicitly define fundamental right for same-sex marriages it should be left to the States to decided if it should be recognized or not. He wrote:
| • Copyright suit over NFL Baltimore Ravens logo (2013)|
Judge(s):Harvie Wilkinson, Allyson Duncan, and Albert Diaz (Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Limited Partnership, et al, 12-2543)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 17, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit, composed of Judges Harvie Wilkinson, Allyson Duncan and Albert Diaz, found that the Baltimore Ravens' and National Football League's (NFL) use of the team's old "Flying B" logo did not infringe upon plaintiff Frederick Bouchat's copyright.
In the underlying case, Bouchat, an amateur artist, proposed a new logo for the Ravens after the team moved to Baltimore in 1995. The Ravens then presented a logo that was strikingly similar to the one Bouchat suggested. Bouchat obtained a copyright on his original drawing and filed suit, ultimately winning the case but without damages awarded. Several years later, the Ravens again changed the team logo, but Bouchat alleged infringement once more, and attempted to prevent the team and the NFL from using its previous "Flying B" logo in documentary films and photographs. The district court found that the defendants' use was fair.
Judge Wilkinson, writing for the majority, affirmed the lower court's decision, noting that the use of Bouchat's copyrighted work was transformative (i.e., it was used for a different purpose than its original one). Wilkinson further stated:
| • Occupy Columbia may file suit against state officials (2013)|
Judge(s):William Traxler, Stephanie Thacker, and Robert King (Occupy Columbia, et al v. Haley, et al, 13-1258)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 16, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit, composed of Chief Judge William Traxler and Judges Stephanie Thacker and Robert King, found that members of Occupy Columbia who were arrested in November of 2011 for supposed violations of state curfew may file suit against various state officials.
In the underlying case, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley enforced a curfew restriction against members of Occupy Columbia, a group that initiated 24-hour per day protests on the grounds of the State House for one month's time. On November 16, 2011, Governor Haley directed police officers to remove Occupy Columbia members who remained on the grounds after 6:00 p.m. Nineteen protesters were arrested on that day, and 14 of them later filed suit alongside Occupy Columbia stating that their First Amendment rights were violated, seeking injunctive relief and damages. The government officials filed a motion to dismiss, which the district trial court granted in part and denied in part, rejecting their claims of qualified immunity.
Judge Thacker, writing for the majority, affirmed the lower court's decision, noting that because the protesters alleged a clear violation of their constitutional rights, a qualified immunity defense would not stand. Thacker further stated:
| • Corrupt sheriff not entitled to qualified immunity (2013)|
Judge(s):Diana Motz, Roger Gregory, and Andre Davis (Durham v. Jones, et al, 12-2303)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 10, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit, composed of Judges Diana Motz, Roger Gregory and Senior Judge Andre Davis, found that a Maryland Sheriff Robert Jones, who fired a deputy in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights, was not entitled to qualified immunity, and must answer to the $1.1 million jury award established in the federal district trial court.
In the underlying case, James Durham, a deputy sheriff, used physical force and pepper spray in self defense to detain a man attempting to flee from police. Durham was later aggressively interrogated about the incident and pressured to falsify his report by superiors. Durham later did so, but then filed an internal grievance about the incident, only to be demoted. Durham then went to the media to expose the sheriff's office for its unjust behavior. Durham was then fired for "disseminating departmental information," a form of misconduct. He filed suit, and a jury at a federal trial found Jones guilty of retaliation after he fired Durham for exercising a constitutional right, awarding the deputy sheriff $1.1 million in damages.
Jones appealed with claims he should have been granted immunity against the charges, but Judge Davis, writing for the majority, affirmed, stating:
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was originally the United States Circuit Court for the Fourth Circuit and cases were heard by a district court judge and the Supreme Court justice appointed to the district. In 1869, a judgeship was created for each of the existing nine circuits allowing the circuit court to hear cases without a justice.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was created by the Evarts Act of 1891. The Fourth Circuit served as a trial and appeals court until 1912 when its original jurisdiction was removed by the Judicial Code of 1911 and it became solely an appellate court.
The Fourth Circuit prides itself on its traditions, still requiring judges to descend and shake the hands of all lawyers after oral arguments. Fourth Circuit Judge John Johnston Parker is credited for creating the first circuit conference in 1931.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Fourth Circuit:
|March 3, 1891||26 Stat. 826||2|
|September 14, 1922||42 Stat. 837||3|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||5|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||7|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||10|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||11|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||15|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on former judges, see former federal judges of the Second Circuit.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is housed in the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. United States Courthouse. The building, started in 1855 and completed in 1858, originally served as Richmond, Virginia's Custom House, Post Office and Courthouse. It was built in the Italianate style, popular in mid to late nineteenth century. The building was designed by Ammi B. Young, the Supervising Architect of the United States Treasury department and used iron beams and girders, a new concept in 1855. The main materials used in the construction of the building are steel, granite and limestone. Additions to the building were added in 1889, 1912 and 1932.
When Richmond was named the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the courthouse was used as offices for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Courthouse was one of two buildings to survive in historic Richmond after the city was burned to the ground by the Confederate Army at the end of the war. After the Civil War, Davis was indicted for treason on the third floor of the building but was granted amnesty.
The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The Post Office had left the building by 1991 leaving the building to function solely in a judicial role. The courthouse was named in honor of Associate Justice Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, accessed April 8, 2014
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, "Judges of the Court," accessed April 8, 2014
- Fourth Circuit Blog, "Case summaries and analysis from Federal Defender Offices located in the Fourth Circuit," accessed April 8, 2014
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, "Search Opinions," accessed April 8, 2014
- The Baltimore Sun, "Conservative federal appeals court shifts left," November 19, 2011
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, "Bostic v. Rainey," July 28, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Courthouse News Service, "Old NFL Ravens Logo Won't Cost Team Again," December 19, 2013
- The State, "Court: Gov. Nikki Haley, SC officials can be sued for Occupy arrests," December 16, 2013
- National Law Journal, "Fourth Circuit Green-Lights Suit Over Occupy Arrests," December 16, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Sheriff On Hook to Pay $1.1 Million Jury Award," December 11, 2013
- Federal Judicial Center, "The U.S. Circuit Courts and the Federal Judiciary," accessed April 9, 2014
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the Fourth Circuit," accessed April 8, 2014
- Federal Judicial Center, "The U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Federal Judiciary," April 9, 2014
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Highlights of Its History," accessed March 26, 2014
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- United States General Services Administration, "Lewis F. Powell, Jr. U.S. Courthouse, Richmond, VA," accessed April 7, 2014