Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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Petitioner filed a petition for the return of her child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 19 I.L.M. 1501, as implemented by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9001 et seq. The district court denied the petition. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in finding that respondent was "more believable" and petitioner did not challenge that determination. The court agreed with the district court that the preponderance of the evidence demonstrated that petitioner consented to respondent's removal of the child to the United States. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Padilla v. Troxell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that they forced her to provide labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. 1589. Specifically, plaintiff alleged six claims of involuntary servitude and illegal trafficking stemming from her work as a live-in housemaid to defendants. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the forced labor statute and that defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff failed to develop sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably conclude that defendants knowingly forced or coerced her to come to the United States, or to remain in their employ against her will, by means of serious psychological harm or abuse of law or legal process, when she otherwise would have left and returned to her home country of Kenya. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Muchira v. Al-Rawaf" on Justia Law

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The Foundation agreed to lend $2 million pursuant to a loan agreement to Al-Harmoosh for a company headquartered in Iraq. After Mohammed Harmoosh, a managing partner of the company, refused to pay the loan, the Foundation filed suit for breach of contract in Maryland. Harmoosh moved to dismiss based on an arbitration clause in the loan agreement. The district court dismissed the Foundation's complaint. The Foundation later filed another suit against Harmoosh to collect on the promissory note, this time in the Court of First Instance for Commercial Disputes in Baghdad. After the Foundation and Harmoosh litigated their dispute to final judgment in Iraq, the Foundation filed suit in the District of Maryland, seeking recognition of the Iraqi judgment under the Maryland Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-701 et seq. The Foundation also alleged that Harmoosh fraudulently conveyed some of his assets both before and after the Iraqi judgment was rendered. The district court granted summary judgment to Harmoosh on the Maryland Recognition Act claim, and granted Harmoosh's motion to compel arbitration. The court held that judicial proceedings in a foreign court are not "contrary to" an arbitration clause for the purpose of the Maryland Recognition Act if the parties choose to forego their rights to arbitrate by paricipating in those proceedings. The court also concluded that the Foundation raised genuine issues of material fact that preclude a summary judgment holding that Harmoosh preserved his arbitration rights. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Iraq Middle Market Development v. Harmoosh" on Justia Law

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Father petitioned for the return of his children to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, T.I.A.S. No. 11670, 19 I.L.M. 1501. The district court declined to order the children returned, and Father appealed. Reviewing the record facts as a whole, the court agreed with the district court that a preponderance of the facts establishes that Son has significant connections demonstrating a secure, stable, and permanent life in his new environment. Son is therefore “settled” within the meaning of the Convention. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s determination that Son is “settled” within the meaning of the Hague Convention and affirmed its decision not to exercise its discretion to order Son returned. View "Alcala v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for the murder of Special Agent James Terry Watson. Agent Watson - as an Assistant Attaché for the United States Mission in Colombia - was an internationally protected person (an IPP). Defendant, a citizen of Colombia, pleaded guilty to offenses of kidnapping conspiracy and murder of an IPP. Defendant argued that his prosecution in this country for offenses committed in Colombia contravened the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Applying the arbitrary-or-unfair framework, the court concluded that defendant's prosecution in this country was not fundamentally unfair where kidnapping and murder are "self-evidently criminal." Furthermore, the IPP convention alone gave defendant notice sufficient to satisfy due process. The court rejected defendant's contention that because the United States Code provisions implementing the IPP Convention require knowledge of the victim’s IPP status that Bello did not possess, those provisions cannot have put him on notice that he was subject to prosecution in this country. Accordingly, there is no merit to defendant’s mens rea contention - nor his broader claim that the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause precluded his prosecution in this country - and the court must uphold his kidnapping conspiracy and murder convictions. View "United States v. Bello Murillo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, a colonel in the Somali National Army, under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA), 28 U.S.C.1350, alleging several violations of international law after a group of soldiers kidnapped him from his home in northern Somalia. The district court dismissed the ATS claims and allowed the TVPA claims to proceed, holding that defendant was not entitled to immunity as a foreign official. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that plaintiff has failed to allege a claim which touches and concerns the United States to support ATS jurisdiction, and therefore the district court did not err in dismissing the ATS counts. The court also agreed with the district court that defendant lacked foreign official immunity for jus cogens violations under Yousuf v. Samantar. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Warfaa v. Ali" on Justia Law