Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and various state laws, holding that the district court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s claims under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff, a captain in the Chicopee Police Department, brought this action against the City, its police chief and mayor, a fellow police officer, and other defendants, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated after Defendants improperly targeted him for “speaking out and participating in a government investigation.” The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claimed under Rule 12(b)(6). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly dismissed Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim because al of Plaintiff’s speech was made within the scope of his official duties rather than as a citizen; and (2) did not err in dismissing the state law claims. View "Gilbert v. City of Chicopee" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment to all Defendants on Plaintiff’s claims of discrimination, unlawful retaliation, and violations of the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment, holding that summary judgment was properly granted as to Rodney Bouffard and Troy Ross but improperly granted as to Correct Care Solutions, LLC (CCS) and Maine Department of Corrections (MDOC). Plaintiff was employed by CCS at a MDOC prison. After MDOC revoked Plaintiff’s prison security clearance and CCS terminated Plaintiff’s employment, Plaintiff sued CCS, MDOC, and Bouffard, the warden, and Ross, the deputy warden, bringing claims under the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The First Circuit held (1) a reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff’s work environment was hostile; (2) summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the warden and deputy warden based on qualified immunity; (3) an employer can be liable for a hostile work environment created by non-employees as long as the employer knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to address it; and (4) summary judgment was improper was to MDOC and CCS. View "Roy v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied and dismissed Petitioner’s petition challenging the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) denial of her motion to reopen and the BIA’s decision not to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen her case to grant her request for an adjustment of status, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) Petitioner’s petition for review was denied as to her challenge to the BIA’s determination that the motion to reopen was untimely; and (2) because Petitioner had no colorable constitutional or legal claim on which the Court might base jurisdiction, the petition was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as to Petitioner’s challenge to the BIA’s decision not to exercise its authority to reopen sua sponte. View "Gyamfi v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of two counts of drug trafficking in international waters while aboard a stateless vessel in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), 46 U.S.C. 70501-08, holding that Defendant’s challenges to his convictions failed but that the district court erred in denying Defendant a minor participant reduction under section 3B1.2(b) of the Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, the Court held (1) in light of prior precedent concerning Defendant’s assertion about the content of international law, the Court must reject Defendant’s constitutional contention regarding the scope of Congress’s power to criminalize his conduct that he argued lacked any nexus to the United States; and (2) because Amendment 794 to the Sentencing Guidelines, which added five factors to the application note, applies retroactively, this case must be remanded for resentencing so that the district court can have an opportunity to apply the new factors. View "United States v. Aybar-Ulloa" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s contract and tort claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the federal court in Puerto Rico lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Plaintiff, a Puerto Rico tour company, brought this diversity suit in the United States District of Puerto Rico, alleging that a California youth soccer organization and related defendants breached duties that the organization owed to Plaintiff under Puerto Rico contract and tort law. The allegations centered around Defendants’ acts of first requesting that Plaintiff make an offer for a potential soccer trip to Puerto Rico for some of the organization’s teams and their families and then declining after further communications to book the tour. The district court dismissed the claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the exercise of specific jurisdiction in the forum over the out-of-forum defendants did not conform to the federal constitutional test. View "PREP Tours, Inc. v. American Youth Soccer Organization" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence without prejudice to his right to raise his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in a collateral proceeding brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, holding that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim ought not to be aired for the first time on direct appeal. Defendant pleaded guilty to violating the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. 2423(a) and was sentenced to a 327-month term of immurement. On appeal, Defendant argued for the first time that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that this case did not qualify for an exception to the general rule that an ineffective assistance of counsel claim must first be raised in the district court. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Appellant’s federal petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the petition. In his petition, Appellant challenged his convictions under Massachusetts law for murder and other offenses, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The district court denied relief. Because Appellant’s case was adjudicated on the merits in state court, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s (AEDPA) highly deferential standard of review applied. See 28 U.S.C. 2254(d). The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of habeas relief, holding that any error on the part of counsel was not unsustainable under AEDPA’s deferential review standard. View "Walker v. Medeiros" on Justia Law

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In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 case, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Kathy Bergeron, a corrections officer, holding that no reasonable juror could conclude that Bergeron was deliberately indifferent to the health and safety of Plaintiff, an inmate, under the Eighth Amendment based on the facts presented by Plaintiff. Plaintiff was severely beaten by other inmates in a cell at a medium-security prison. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Bergeron was deliberately indifferent while doing a round, leading to a delay in his being provided with medical treatment, which exacerbated his injuries. The district court granted summary judgment for Bergeron. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce enough evidence for a jury to conclude that Bergeron had the requisite culpable state of mind of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s need for medical care. View "Leite v. Goulet" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, holding (1) there was no basis on which to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress; and (2) there was no error in Defendant’s conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the handgun at issue because it was discovered during an unconstitutional search of his vehicle. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the search of Defendant’s vehicle was not unconstitutional, and therefore, the weapon was not the fruit of an unlawful search and did not require suppression; and (2) Defendant’s conviction was supported by sufficient evidence of his knowing and intentional possession of the weapon. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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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