July 22, 2013 4th Circuit published opinions

Moore v Hardee

Moore was convicted of burglary and assault. He sought post conviction relief in state court arguing his trial counsel was ineffective. The state court rejected his arguments and denied relief. Moore then sought federal habeas relief which the district court granted on the grounds that trial counsel did not call an expert on eyewitness testimony to undermine the complaining witnesses. The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part. It held that under the proper deferential review, the state post conviction court arguably made the correct determination as trial counsel cross examined the complaining witnesses, offered an alibi and the trial court was not required to admit expert testimony in any event. The panel distinguished the out of circuit authority relied upon by the district court on the grounds that one involved a sanction for discovery and the other a directly reviewed choice to not investigate whether trauma and medical sedation could influence eyewitness testimony. The panel also held that habeas claim arising form improperly admitted firearms evidence was correctly denied as there was no prejudice given cross-examination demonstrated there was any connection between the firearm and the shooting at issue.

Angelex Ltd. v United States 

The Coast Guard inspected a ship owned by Angelex. It suspected the vessel was discharging oil in violation of federal law and refused to allow the ship to leave Norfolk unless a $2.5 million bond was posted and certain conditions met. Angelex field an emergency motion seeking a lower bond and less burdensome conditions. The distinct court granted the motion. The panel reversed. It held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedures Act as enforcement of the water pollution statute, 33 USC 1901 et seq was committed to the Coast Guard, the Guard is never required to accept bond, the relevant statute, 1908(e), has no judicially enforceable standards and there is a money damages remedy in the statute for unreasonable withholding of clearance to leave. The panel also held that there ewers no subject matter jurisdiction in admiralty as the withheld clearance to leave is not equivalent to a civil law arrest of a vessel.

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