The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Attorneys from KaiserDillon PLLC work to stay active in what’s happening in the Fourth Circuit. Indeed, the founder of KaiserDillon PLLC, Matt Kaiser, is a Permanent Member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, an invitation-only gathering of all the federal judges in the Fourth Circuit every two years.
The Fourth Circuit is based in Richmond, Virginia. The Fourth Circuit hears cases from the United States District Courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
The Fourth Circuit has had a reputation as a very conservative court, which is, generally, not sympathetic to people who are accused of a federal crime or people who are suing business interests. The Fourth Circuit, though, has trended toward being more progressive with a new wave of Obama appointees, at least in cases involving the people accused of a federal crime and the Fourth Amendment.
One unique thing about the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is that at the conclusion of each oral argument, the judges on the panel of the court that heard the case come down, off of the bench, to shake hands with the attorneys who argued the case. It is one small example of how the Fourth Circuit tries very hard to foster and maintain a collegial atmosphere.
A slightly more problematic feature of practice before the Fourth Circuit is that it issues fewer published opinions than many of its sister circuits. The Fourth Circuit is also hesitant to schedule a case for oral argument.
Perhaps most maddening for those who practice in the Fourth Circuit is the court’s practice of not letting the attorneys know which judges are deciding their case until the morning of argument. It is not uncommon to show up the morning of an oral argument and find the name of a United States District Court Judge, who is sitting by designation will serve as a part of your panel, yet the lawyer knows little about that judge. This can be unsettling, and is not the practice in many other circuits.
Each federal circuit has it’s own Supreme Court Justice who is assigned to the Circuit. This justice hears emergency appeals and participates in the life of the judicial circuit. The Fourth Circuit’s Circuit Justice is the Chief Justice.
Any case which is decided by a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, or the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Put another way, the Fourth Circuit hears the appeal from a case decided in a federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland; Baltimore, Maryland; Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; Durham, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Rockingham, North Carolina; Salisbury, North Carolina; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Ashville, North Carolina; Aiken, South Carolina; Anderson, South Carolina; Beaufort, South Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Alexandria, Virginia; Newport News, Virginia; Norfolk, Virginia; and, of course, Richmond, Virginia.
In West Virginia, the Fourth Circuit hears the appeal of any federal case decided in a federal court in Wheeling, Clarksburg, Charleston, Bluefield, Huntington, Beckley and Parkersburg.