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Diana Motz

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Diana Motz
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Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   6/16/1994-Present
Preceded by:   New Seat
Past post:   Maryland Court of Special Appeals
Past term:   1991-1994
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   Washington D.C.
Undergraduate:   Vassar College, 1965
Law School:   University of Virginia Law, 1968

Diana Jane Gribbon Motz is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She joined the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.[1]


Motz graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor's degree in 1965 and from Virginia Law with her J.D. in 1968.

Professional career

Motz was a private practice attorney in Maryland from 1968 to 1971, and again from 1986 to 1991. Motz worked as assistant state attorney general for the State of Maryland from 1972 to 1986, and specifically as Chief Counsel of the Litigation Division for the State of Maryland from 1982 to 1986. She served as an associate judge for the Maryland Court of Special Appeals from 1991 to 1994.[1]

Judicial career

Fourth Circuit

Motz was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit by President Bill Clinton on January 27, 1994, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089. Motz was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 15, 1994, and received commission on June 16, 1994.[2]

Notable cases

Corrupt sheriff not entitled to qualified immunity (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Durham v. Jones, et al, 12-2303)

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.[3]

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 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.[3]

Jones appealed with claims he should have been granted immunity against the charges, but Judge Davis, writing for the majority, affirmed, stating:[3]

Serious, to say nothing of corrupt, law enforcement misconduct is a substantial concern that must be met with a similarly substantial disruption in the calibration of the controlling balancing test. Given Jones' inability to show at trial how Durham's actions had an adverse impact on the proper functioning of the [Somerset County, Maryland, Sheriff’s Office] in some serious manner, the balance between Durham's rights as a private citizen under the First Amendment and Jones' interest in ensuring an efficient and effective work environment tilts heavily in favor of Durham and his entitlement to enjoy protected speech.[3][4]
Since it is clearly established that an employee's speech about governmental misconduct is constitutionally protected, Jones was not entitled to immunity, and must pay the damages awarded to Durham at the federal jury trial.[3]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: