The United States Court of Appeals will make history by holding oral arguments for the first time in Indian Country at the Cherokee Tribal Court on Thursday, Nov. 15. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has its headquarters in Richmond, Va. and hears cases appealed from the nine federal district courts located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Slated for review are three very different cases.
The first case is the criminal matter of United States v. Jesmene Lockhart which presents the issue of whether the tribal court’s failure to advise the defendant of a possible mandatory minimum at his plea hearing was plain error and grounds for the defendant to withdraw his guilty plea when he was advised that the maximum sentence he faced was 10 years but the defendant was later subjected to a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence.
The second case, EEOC v. McLeod Health, an employment discrimination case, raises the issue of whether a grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant was lawful where the plaintiff, a long-term employee of the defendant, made factual allegations that the defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring medical examinations pertaining to known congenital disability.
Finally, the third matter, Charles Finch v. Timothy McKoy, is a post-conviction action where the petitioner (a former death row inmate) contends he is factually innocent of murder where the eyewitness identification of him was unreliable, and further, offered alleged new evidence to show that the victim was killed with a weapon different than the shotgun originally charged.
Seating for these arguments will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and is expected to fill up quickly. The large court room will open at 8am and arguments will start promptly at 9am and will last until approximately 11:30am. No cell phones or any other electronic or photographic items will be allowed in the courthouse during the argument session. Also, no bags, briefcases, purses, backpacks or similar carrying cases will be allowed in the courthouse. Persons seeking to enter the courthouse must present a government-issued photo identification card.
– Special to the One Feather