Weekly Roundup: 2/12-2/16

By: Mary Kate Gladstone & Robert Tucci

U.S. v. Cowden

In this case, the defendant, a former lieutenant with a West Virginia Sheriff’s Office, appealed his conviction for deprivation of rights under the color of law in violation 18 U.S.C. § 242 after he assaulted an arrestee.  On appeal, the defendant argued that the district court erred in admitting evidence of his prior uses of force; that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; that the jury was improperly instructed on the elements of the offense; and that he should not have been held liable for injuries to the arrestee when a different officer was the one arresting him, but the Fourth Circuit affirmed on all accounts.

Intl. Refugee Assistance v. Donald J. Trump

This is a consolidated appeal of three separate cases seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, asserting that Proclamation No. 9645, Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Process for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats, and Executive Order 13,780, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, violate the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Free Speech and Free Association Clauses of the First Amendment, the equal protection and procedural due process guarantees of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Refugee Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction granted by the district court, noting that the Executive Order and Proclamation were “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam” based on their contents and the context of official statements made by President Trump.

U.S. v. Smith

In this case, defendant Antoine Smith appealed his enhanced prison sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i), the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), arguing that one of his prior convictions, voluntary manslaughter (a North Carolina crime), is not a violent felony within the meaning of the force clause of the ACCA. The Fourth Circuit disagreed, holding that voluntary manslaughter in North Carolina requires an intentional killing, thus involving “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another” as required by the force clause of the ACCA.

Salgado-Sosa v. Sessions

In this case, plaintiff and Honduras citizen Reynaldo Salgado-Sosa petitioned for review of the denial of his asylum application, and requested the court to grant a withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture. In requesting relief, Salgado-Sosa stated that he feared he would face persecution if he was returned to Honduras, as the gang MS-13 has repeatedly attacked his family for resisting extortion demands. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded in part, finding that the Board of Immigration Appeals erroneously rejected Salgado-Sosa’s withholding of removal on the grounds that Salgado-Sosa could not establish a “nexus” between MS-13’s threats and membership in a cognizable “particular social group” – his family – and remanded the asylum claim for consideration of whether the untimely application exception in Zambrano v. Sessions is applicable in Salgado-Sosa’s case. 

E.W. v. Dolgos

Plaintiff E.W., a minor and elementary school student, appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for defendant Dolgos, a school resource officer, in E.W.’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, which alleged that Dolgos used excessive force in handcuffing a calm and compliant E.W. for an altercation with another student that occurred several days prior, thus violating the Fourth Amendment and several state law claims. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, finding that Dolgos was entitled to both federal qualified immunity an state statutory immunity under the Maryland Tort Claims Act.

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