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

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s rejection of Appellant’s claims that she, among other things, suffered discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its Massachusetts state-law corollary when Defendants failed to accommodate her request for transfer to another position in the Plymouth Police Department after she suffered an on-the-job injury. The district court concluded that Appellant failed to raise a genuine issues of material fact regarding her discrimination claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly entered summary judgment on Appellant’s handicap discrimination claims and gender discrimination claim; and (2) even if the court were able to glean an ADA retaliation claim from Appellant’s complaint, Appellant waived it during summary judgment proceedings. View "Audette v. Town of Plymouth, Mass." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud. Before trial, Defendant and his co-defendant filed motions to suppress evidence and statements that had been obtained in the previous months in connection with three traffic stops. The district court denied the motions to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress concerning a traffic stop in Kittery, Maine because the police had reasonable suspicion to justify the investigative stop as of 1:55 a.m. and the seizure was not unreasonably long; and (2) the district court did not err in denying the motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop in Ohio because there was reasonable suspicion to justify the detention. View "United States v. Ramdihall" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud. Before trial, Defendant and his co-defendant filed motions to suppress evidence and statements that had been obtained in the previous months in connection with three traffic stops. The district court denied the motions to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying the motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop in Ohio because there was no unlawful seizure, and therefore, the evidence Defendant sought to suppress did not constitute the fruits of an unlawful seizure; and (2) the district court did not err in concluding that the warrantless swiping of credit cards from in the trunk of a rental car through a card reader was constitutional. View "United States v. Hillaire" on Justia Law

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First Circuit rejects Double Jeopardy challenge to second indictment for cocaine smuggling. On August 15, 2013, Díaz was indicted in the Southern District of Florida for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Five days later, Díaz was indicted in the District of Puerto Rico -- for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. The First Circuit rejected his argument that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred his prosecution on the Puerto Rico charges because the Florida charges already encompass the conduct for which he was indicted in Puerto Rico. While the places involved and the two statutory provisions under which Díaz was charged were the same, the lower court concluded that the conspiracies charged in the two indictments were separate ones insofar as the conduct charged in the two indictments involved distinct time periods, personnel, and evidence. View "United States v. Diaz-Rosado" on Justia Law

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First Circuit rejects civil rights claims relating to retention of property in car towed for an evidentiary search. Chelmsford police located Denault’s 2000 Nissan parked in Testa’s Lowell driveway. Denault, the suspect in a crime, was in custody. Testa was the mother of Denault's children. The officers had Denault's car towed and secured a warrant. Days later, they executed the warrant; having determined that the car did not contain evidence, they released it to Christopher's Towing. The officers had no contact with Denault. They did not supply, and Christopher's Towing did not request, Denault’s contact information. Testa repeatedly tried to recover the car and her belongings, particularly child booster seats. Testa claims that officers refused to discuss returning the car or its contents unless Testa agreed to be questioned in connection with the Denault investigation; they never informed her that they had released the car. Three months later, Denault's mother showed Tesla a Notice of Abandoned Vehicle sent to Denault's last known address, indicating a lien of $4797.82 for towing, storage, and processing. Neither Testa nor Denault could pay. They sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act. They ultimately prevailed on a common-law conversion claim against one officer for $2225. The First Circuit affirmed, noting the “confusing” record and that the plaintiffs had waived claims relating to the initial seizure. View "Denault v. Ahern" on Justia Law

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While they were investigating a suspected drug-trafficking operation, federal DEA agents made a warrantless entry into an apartment that, as it turned out, served as a stash house for a second, more substantial, drug-trafficking operation. Defendant, a participant in the second drug-trafficking operation, was charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence gathered from the apartment. The district court denied the motion, concluding that probable cause and exigent circumstances justified the warrantless entry. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the record supported the district court’s determination that the combination of probable cause and exigent circumstances justified the DEA agents’ warrantless entry into the apartment. View "United States v. Almonte-Baez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the City of Portland on Plaintiff’s claim that the City unconstitutionally denied him the opportunity to apply for a permit for his taxi to pick up passengers at the Portland International Jetport on the basis of his race and national origin. The district court ruled that Plaintiff did not have standing to bring his constitutional challenge because Plaintiff had not established a likelihood that he was “ready and able” to apply for the permit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding the likelihood that Plaintiff would seek the permit. View "McDonough v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and other charges related to his membership in a crime syndicate. Defendant appealed, raising fifteen claims of error. The First Circuit affirmed, holding, inter alia, (1) Defendant failed to meet his burden of showing grand jury abuse by the government; (2) the government did not improperly join certain charges; (3) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress; (4) there was no violation of Defendant’s right to conflict-free counsel; (5) the district court did not violate Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to participate in his own defense; (6) the district court did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause; (7) there was no evidentiary error; (8) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (9) Defendant failed to show plain error in his claims of prosecutorial misconduct; and (10) the court properly sentenced Defendant. View "United States v. Ponzo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against their insurance carrier (Defendant), claiming that Defendant had incorrectly denied coverage. The case proceeded to a jury trial. The jury’s unanimous verdict was for Defendant. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial after learning that the jury foreperson had a prior felony conviction, arguing that the juror was not qualified to serve on the jury under 28 U.S.C. 1865(b)(5). The district court denied the motion for a new trial, concluding that Plaintiffs had not shown that the juror’s service deprived them of a fundamentally fair trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the juror’s inclusion was not fatal to the jury’s verdict, and therefore, the district court properly denied Plaintiffs’ new-trial motion. View "Faria v. Harleysville Worcester Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The district court sentenced Defendant to ninety-three months’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay $532,152 in restitution. The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for substitution of counsel; (2) did not deprive Defendant of his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney by allowing Defendant to represent himself at trial; and (3) did not abuse its discretion when it declined to dismiss a juror for potential bias because there was no bias as a matter of law. View "United States v. Kar" on Justia Law