Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendant was one of seventeen passengers in an open boat that was intercepted by Coast Guard and Border Patrol officials twenty-three nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. Defendant was subsequently convicted of illegally attempting to return to the United States after being deported. Defendant appealed, contending that he was wrongly prevented from arguing at trial that he was passing Puerto Rico on his way to the island of St. Maarten and did not intend to enter the United States illegally. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the government plainly violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 by announcing its intention to call an expert witness only five days before trial, but Defendant was not prejudiced by the violation; (2) the government did not violate Defendant’s due process rights by destroying the boat, which contained evidence of whether it had enough fuel to travel to St. Maarten, and by deporting other passengers who, Defendant argued, would have testified the boat was traveling to St. Maarten; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction. View "United States v. Bresil" on Justia Law

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While Plaintiff was imprisoned in the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) he committed misconduct that resulted in an administrative sanction of a ten-year term in the Department Disciplinary Unit (DDU), a segregated maximum security housing unit, as well as a state law criminal charge for armed assault with intent to murder. After Plaintiff completed his original criminal sentence he remained in the custody of the DOC as a pretrial detainee for the new criminal assault with intent to murder charge. After Plaintiff was sentenced on the criminal charge, he continued to serve out the balance of the ten-year administrative sanction in the DDU. The district court ruled that two high-ranking prison officials had violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by continuing to confine Plaintiff in the DDU, both as a pretrial detainee and as a sentenced inmate. In connection with these rulings, the court denied the defendants’ claims of qualified immunity and awarded Plaintiff partial money damages and equitable relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. The First Circuit reversed the denial of qualified immunity, reversed the award of money damages against the officials in their individual capacities and vacated all equitable relief, holding that the prison officials did not violate Plaintiff’s clearly established rights. Remanded. View "Ford v. Bender" on Justia Law

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On October 27, 2011, the McLaughlin Group brought suit against the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as applied to definitions of marriage in Title 10, Title 32, and Title 38 of the United States Code as they affect same-sex military spouses. The district court stayed the proceedings in light of two similar challenges on appeal before the First Circuit. The First Circuit subsequently held Section 3 of DOMA invalid, and the Supreme Court held Section 3 unconstitutional as a violation of the Fifth Amendment. The district court then resumed proceedings in this case and entered summary judgment in favor of the McLaughlin Group. The McLaughlin Group moved for fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the government’s position was substantially justified. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly found that the position of the United States was substantially justified and thus properly denied fees as a matter of law. View "McLaughlin v. Hagel" on Justia Law

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Appellants, employees of Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works and members of Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party, were relieved of their job responsibilities and lost supervisory authority upon the change in political administration to the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico (NPP). Appellants filed suit against Appellees, members of the NPP, claiming that Appellees discriminated on the basis of political affiliation in violation of the First Amendment. The district court dismissed Appellants’ First Amendment claims against the appellees who received Appellants’ cease and dismiss letters, concluding that Appellants’ letters did not identify Appellants’ political affiliation or refer to discriminatory conduct based on political animus, and therefore, Appellants did not adequately allege all elements of a First Amendment political discrimination claim. The First Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ First Amendment claims, holding that each appellant stated a plausible First Amendment claim against the appellees who received that appellant’s letter. View "Medina-Velazquez v. Hernandez-Gregorat" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of failing to register as a sex offender. The plea agreement contained a waiver of appeal provision, which provided that if the court accepted the agreement and sentenced Defendant according to its terms, Defendant would be waiving and permanently surrendering his right to appeal the judgment and sentence. The court accepted Defendant’s guilty plea, and the district court judge sentenced Defendant to twelve months in prison and ten years supervised release. The judge imposed a number of special sex offender conditions as terms of Defendant’s supervised release. Defendant appealed, seeking to vacate the special sex offender conditions. The First Circuit dismissed in part, vacated in part, and remanded, holding that Defendant waived his right to appeal all of the special sex offender conditions of supervised release save the condition providing that Defendant could not use or possess sexually explicit material or frequent any establishments providing pornography or sexual services, as the condition was not announced at sentencing. View "United States v. Santiago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were inmates in the Massachusetts state prison system who suffer from HIV. Plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections after the Department decided, rather than to provide the inmates with monthly or bimonthly supplies of their HIV medications, to dispense the medication only in single doses at the dispensing window. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court granted summary judgment for the Department on each of Plaintiffs’ claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to produce adequate evidence of any statutory or constitutional violation. View "Nunes v. Umass Corr. Health" on Justia Law

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Officers from the Puerto Rico Police Department stopped a vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger for a traffic infraction. Suspecting that the car may have been stolen, the officers asked the driver to exit the vehicle and open the hood for purposes of inspecting the vehicle identification number on the car’s engine. The driver’s resulting movement revealed a gun tucked into his waistband. Thereafter, the officers ordered Defendant to exit the vehicle and submit to a pat-frisk, which revealed a firearm hidden in Defendant’s waistband. Defendant was subsequently indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the firearm evidence as the fruit of an illegal search. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the officers had an objectively reasonable basis to frisk Defendant. View "United States v. Tiru-Plaza" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who suffered from Crohn’s disease, brought suit against the University of Puerto Rico, her former employer, and Marisol Gomez-Mouakad (Gomez), her former supervisor, alleging that the defendants did not renew her employment contract in retaliation for her complaining about disability-discrimination. Plaintiff filed a retaliation against both defendants under the Americans with Disabilities Act and asserted a First Amendment free-speech retaliation claim against Gomez under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to show that the defendants’ legitimate, nonretaliatory reasons for not renewing her contract were pretextual; and (2) Plaintiff failed to show that her speech was both protected and a substantial or motivating factor in the defendants’ adverse-employment decision. View "Collazo-Rosado v. Univ. of P.R." on Justia Law

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The states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island each tax the transfer of real estate. In separate actions, the Town of Johnston, Rhode Island and the Commissioners of Bristol County, Massachusetts (the municipalities) brought actions against Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (collectively, the entities), seeking declaratory judgments that the entities owed transfer taxes as well as money damages and equitable relief to recover the unpaid taxes. Federal district courts granted the entities’ motions to dismiss based on statutory exemptions from taxation. The municipalities appealed, arguing that a real property exception in the entities’ tax exemptions applies to the transfer taxes and that the exemptions themselves are unconstitutional. The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of all claims, holding (1) the transfer taxes are not included in the real property exception to the entities’ tax exemptions; and (2) the tax exemptions are a constitutional exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause and do not violate the Tenth Amendment. View "Town of Johnston v. Fed. Housing Fin. Agency" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Healey and Edward Given, residents of the Massachusetts Treatment Center, were each civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person. Plaintiffs brought separate suits, which were later consolidated, challenging the conditions of their confinement and the adequacy of their sexual offender treatment. Plaintiffs sought equitable relief against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and other state officials (collectively, the DOC). Both plaintiffs alleged violations of the Constitution and state statutory provisions, and Healey alleged that the DOC was not in compliance with the terms of a management plan (Plan) for the Center developed by the DOC during the course of prior litigation. The district court granted Plaintiffs declaratory and injunctive relief on some claims and entered judgment in favor of the DOC on the remaining claims. The First Circuit (1) reversed the declaratory judgment in favor of Healey on his contempt claim as well as injunctive relief compelling the Commonwealth’s compliance with the Plan’s provisions; and (2) affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendants in all respects with the exception of the judgment for Plaintiffs regarding the constitutionality of the pharmacological evaluation and treatment provided by Defendants, as that portion of the judgment was not challenged on appeal. View "Healey v. Dennehy" on Justia Law