Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

by
The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the summary judgment granted to Defendants as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiff, a Massachusetts property owner, brought this lawsuit against three police officers challenging the owner’s arrest for actions that he took in connection with his objection to the clearing of vegetation on his property by the work crew for an electrical utility that held an easement on the owner’s property. Specifically, the First Circuit (1) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to the officers on Plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim and the claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 11I; (2) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to one of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims; and (3) vacated the entry of summary judgment as to two of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims and as to all three officers on the false imprisonment claim and remanded with instructions that the district court remand those claims to state court, holding that contested state law issues prevented summary judgment. View "Wilber v. Curtis" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit granted the certification requested by Petitioner that Petitioner’s successive motion to vacate his federal sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 contains a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable. Petitioner sought to argue in the district court that the new rule announced in Johnson v. United States (Johnson II), 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which was made retroactive to cases on collateral review in Welch v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1257 (2016), invalidates the residual clause of the career offender guideline applied at his sentencing, which occurred before United States v. Booker, 453 U.S. 220 (2055), made the guidelines advisory. For the reasons given in this opinion, the First Circuit certified that Petitioner’s successive motion satisfies 28 U.S.C. 2255(h)(2). View "Moore v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first degree murder. Defendant took a collateral challenge to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. The SJC affirmed Defendant’s conviction. A federal district court denied Defendant’s subsequent petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the SJC clearly understood and reasonably rejected Defendant’s claims on the merits in a manner consistent with federal constitutional law; and (2) to the extent that the SJC misapprehended Defendant’s argument regarding his Fifth Amendment rights, Defendant suffered no prejudice because his Strickland argument would not have prevailed. View "Johnston v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s orders denying Defendant’s motion to suppress wiretap evidence and denying Defendant’s two requests for evidentiary hearings in connection with the motion to suppress. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress and his related requests for evidentiary hearings. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the wiretap orders were not so lacking in particularity as to demand suppression, the wiretap applications were more than minimally adequate to justify the wiretap orders, and suppression was not required due to minimization deficiencies; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to hold either a general evidentiary hearing or a Franks hearing. View "United States v. Gordon" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the revocation of his attorney’s license, holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred his suit. After the Rhode Island Supreme Court suspended Plaintiff from practicing law for one year, Plaintiff filed this federal suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against nearly two dozen judicial officers and administrators who had participated in his disciplinary proceedings, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under both the Rhode Island and the United States Constitutions. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss primarily on the grounds that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine divested the court of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly ruled that Plaintiff’s suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. View "McKenna v. Curtin" on Justia Law

by
Police officers’ warrantless entry into the home of Plaintiffs and their subsequent arrest of one of the plaintiffs violated clearly established law. Plaintiffs, Charles and Lesa Morse, sued Defendants, police officers, alleging that Defendants’ warrantless entry into their home and the subsequent arrest of Charles violated their Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Plaintiffs also claimed that Defendants transgressed the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that exigent circumstances justified their warrantless entry and that the events amounted to a doorway arrest. The district court refused to grant either summary judgment or, by implication, qualified immunity based on exigent circumstances. Defendants appealed. The First Circuit dismissed substantial portions of the interlocutory appeals for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed, holding that Defendants’ conduct violated clearly established law. View "Morse v. Cloutier" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because there was not reasonable suspicion for the stop-and-frisk that resulted in the discovery of the firearm and that the district court erred by allowing him to direct his attorney not to pursue certain factual lines of defense at trial. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) there was reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify the stop and frisk, and therefore, Defendant’s motion to suppress was properly denied; and (2) there was no reversible error in the district court’s decision to allow Defendant to make certain choices in the conduct of his defense. View "United States v. Belin" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress certain evidence, including a loaded firearm found when law enforcement searched Defendant’s home. Defendant pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person in knowing possession of a firearm or ammunition, reserving his right to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress. The First Circuit held (1) the protective sweep of Defendant’s residence was not lawful in light of the circumstances surrounding Defendant’s arrest; and (2) therefore, the evidence that was recovered during and following the sweep should have been excluded as the illegal fruit of that sweep. View "United States v. Delgado-Perez" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that was seized from Defendant’s apartment pursuant to a warrant. While law enforcement agents were seeking the warrant, other agents entered Defendant’s apartment, detained the individuals present in the apartment, and while securing the premises came upon some of the evidence that was later seized. The district court denied Defendant’s motion on independent-source grounds, concluding that there was no evidence that either the warrant or the decision to seek the warrant was tainted by what the officers saw during the initial entry. The First Circuit agreed, holding (1) the warrant was not based on information gleaned from the warrantless seizure and sweep of Defendant’s apartment; and (2) the officers’ conduct did not rise to a level that might arguably justify a departure from the normal rules governing suppression. View "United States v. Dent" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that Plaintiff was likely to succeed on the merits of his contention that a provision of the Maine Civil Rights Act facially violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the freedom of speech. The challenged provision bars a person from making noise that “can be heard within a building” when such noise is made intentionally, following an order from law enforcement to cease making it, and with the additional intent either to jeopardize the health of persons receiving health services within the building or to interfere with the safe and effective delivery of those services. The district court granted Plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction, concluding that the measure, as a content-based speech restriction, did not satisfy strict scrutiny. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the noise provision was properly treated as a content-neutral time, place, or manner restriction that survived Plaintiff’s facial challenge under intermediate scrutiny. View "March v. Mills" on Justia Law