June 27, 2014 4th Circuit published opinions

National Heritage Foundation, Incorporated v Highbourne Foundation

National appealed the bankruptcy court’s rejection of a nondebtor release provision in its reorganization plan. The district court affirmed and the panel affirmed as well. Applying the factors in 4th Circuit precedent, it held that while there was an identity of interest between National and the officers and board members being released, those officers and directors provided no contribution to the estate, the provision is not essential given the low risk the officers or directors will leave and the severability provision in the plan and there was no mechanism for the impacted claims to be paid. Thus, there was a lack of proof that the release was essential.

United States v Henriquez

Henrique appealed his sentence arguing his prior Maryland conviction for burglary was not generic burglary for federal sentencing purposes. The panel, 2-1, vacated his sentence and remanded. The majority held that there was a reasonable possibility that a person could be convicted of burglary of a residence in Maryland if the person broke into a car or boat where someone habitually sleeps. The majority based its conclusion on Maryland case law which included an affirmed conviction for burglarizing an RV. Thus, the majority concluded the Maryland statute is broader than generic burglary for federal sentencing purposes and remanded the case for resentencing. The dissent argued that Maryland’s statute has never been construed to include burglary of cars or boats and indeed the case law relied upon by the majority actually adopts the common law definition of dwelling which makes Maryland’s first degree burglary statute narrower, not broader, than the generic crime for federal sentencing purposes.

 

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