Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and dismissed in part Defendant’s interlocutory appeal from the district court’s denial of her motion for summary judgment arguing that she was immune to Plaintiff’s damage claims, holding that this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to the extent Defendant challenged the district court’s assessment of the record. Defendant, a police officer, shot Plaintiff as Plaintiff was cutting himself with a knife in the waiting area of a psychiatric center. Plaintiff sued Defendant under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that Defendant violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendant moved for summary judgment based, in part, on her qualified immunity to federal damage claims arising out of the performance of her official duties as a public employee. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant could not constitutionally shoot Plaintiff unless he posed an immediate threat to herself or others and only after providing some kind of warning, if feasible. Defendant appealed. The First Circuit (1) dismissed the appeal to the extent it challenged the district court’s assessment of the factual record under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; and (2) otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment. View "Begin v. Drouin" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiffs’ claims that the Massachusetts firearms licensing statute, as implemented in the communities of Boston and Brookline, violates the Second Amendment, holding that the statute bears a substantial relationship to important governmental interests. Plaintiffs sought and received licenses to carry firearms in public, but the licenses allowed Plaintiffs to carry firearms only in relation to certain specified activities, denying them the right to carry firearms more generally. Plaintiff argued that the Massachusetts firearms licensing statute violates the Second Amendment. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the statute bears a substantial relationship to important governmental interests in promoting public safety and crime prevention without offending Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights. View "Gould v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim and dismissing Plaintiff’s Massachusetts state law negligence claim without prejudice, holding that the district court’s judgment was without error. Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Framingham, sued Dr. Thomas Groblewski and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare in federal district court, bringing a state law claim for common law negligence and a federal law claim under section 1983 for a violation of her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The district court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Groblewski acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim. View "Zingg v. Groblewski" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one counts of stalking in violation 18 U.S.C. 2216A, holding that Defendant’s constitutional challenge was unsuccessful, there was no error in the district court’s jury instructions, and sufficient evidence supported the conviction. On appeal, Defendant brought a First Amendment challenge to the federal anti-stalking statute, arguing that section 2261A(2)(B) is facially overbroad and a content-based restriction on speech that does not survive strict scrutiny. The First Circuit disagreed as to this issue and the remaining issues Defendant raised on appeal, holding (1) Defendant’s First Amendment challenge to the statute was unavailing; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s request for a unanimity instruction or in giving jury instructions that precisely tracked the statute’s wording; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction. View "United States v. Ackell" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether it is appropriate to use the categorical approach in determining what is a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(b). The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion, before he entered a conditional plea of guilty to using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm in relation to a “crime of violence” in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1), to dismiss a portion of the charge on the ground that the residual clause at 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). The First Circuit held that section 924(c)(3)(B) is not void for vagueness because the statute reasonably allows for a case-specific approach rather than a categorical approach and because Appellant’s conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery qualified as a “crime of violence.” View "United States v. Douglas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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In this case arising from the fatal shooting of an armed civilian by a state trooper, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant, holding that Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects public officials, including police officers such as Defendant, from civil liability while acting under color of state law, with the exception of officials who act incompetently or in disregard of clearly established legal principles. The district court concluded that, under the facts of this case, Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the district court’s entry of summary judgment in Defendant’s favor on the basis of qualified immunity was correct. View "Conlogue v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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In 1996, a jury convicted former Massachusetts state representative Francis Woodward of, among other crimes, honest-services mail and wire fraud. He appealed the district court's denial of his most recent petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The First Circuit concluded the district court did not err in denying that petition: he did not demonstrate his conviction was the result of any fundamental error. View "Woodward v. US" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court’s denial of Defendants’ motion for a new trial based partly on a claim that one juror lied in filling out the written questionnaire given to prospective jurors prior to trial, holding that the district court’s investigation concerning the answers given by the juror was inadequate. After a jury trial, Defendants were convicted of charges arising out of a large-scale marijuana-farming operation. Defendants moved for a new trial, arguing that one juror lied in filling out a written questionnaire given to prospective jurors prior to trial. The district court denied the motion for a new trial. The First Circuit vacated the denial based on the possible bias of the juror and remanded for an evidentiary hearing, holding that the alleged bias of the juror presented a “colorable or plausible” claim of the type of juror misconduct that could require a new trial, and therefore, the district court was required to do more than it did before ruling on the new trial motion. View "United States v. Russell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction stemming from an armed robbery committed in Puerto Rico and the sentence imposed, holding that armed robbery committed in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951, qualifies as a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. 924(c) and that Defendant's sentence was not an abuse of discretion. Defendant stood convicted of aiding and abetting a robbery committed in violation of the Hobbs Act and aiding and abetting felony murder in the course of using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Defendant’s conviction for felony murder rested on the proposition that his offense that led to a death - armed robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act - was a “crime of violence” under section 924(c). On appeal, Defendant argued that his armed robbery conviction did not qualify as a crime of violence and challenged the imposition of a restitution order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) a conviction for Hobbs Act robbery categorically constitutes a “crime of violence” under section 924(c)’s force clause; (2) the district court did not err in ordering restitution; (3) the district court did not err in making Defendant’s Guidelines calculation; and (4) the district court was within its discretion to impose consecutive sentences for counts one and three. View "United States v. Garcia-Ortiz" on Justia Law