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

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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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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

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After a jury trial in 1998, Petitioner was convicted iof first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal concerned Petitioner’s petition for habeas relief in which Petitioner sought to invalidate his conviction on the ground that his court-appointed attorney’s failure to interview a certain prosecution witness, Barbara Holbrook, before trial and counsel’s failure to interview or to call at trial several witnesses who allegedly could have rebutted Holbrook’s testimony constituted ineffective assistance. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed on the merits. View "Scoggins v. Hall" on Justia Law

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A Boston police officer spotted two men, including Appellant, matching the general description of culprits who had recently robbed a cell phone store. The officer stopped the men and questioned them. During the conversation, the officer received information from other officers that supported his suspicions. Appellant was brought to the scene of the crime, where he was identified in a “show-up” procedure. Appellant was charged with robbery and firearms offenses. Appellant filed a motion to suppress. The district court denied the motion, determining that the stop was justified by reasonable suspicion and that, although the show-up procedure was impermissibly suggestive, the store clerk’s identification was reliable and therefore admissible. Appellant entered a conditional guilty plea to the charged counts and then appealed the denial of his motions to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in finding that the stop effectuated by the officer was accompanied by reasonable suspicion; and (2) did not err in refusing to suppress the store clerk’s eyewitness identification testimony. View "United States v. Arthur" on Justia Law

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Defendants worked as corrections officers at a jail where Matthew Lalli was being held as a pre-trial detainee. Defendants were involved in a series of troubling events that led to Lalli’s attempted, and almost completed, suicide. Plaintiff, Lalli’s guardian, sued Defendants, claiming deliberate indifference in violation of Lalli’s Fourteenth Amendment rights. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that they were not deliberately indifferent and were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied the motion, determining that a reasonable jury could find Defendants acted with deliberate indifference toward Lalli and that Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity on the claim of deliberate indifference at the summary judgment stage. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendants could not show they were entitled to qualified immunity at the summary judgment phase of this litigation. View "Penn v. Escorsio" on Justia Law

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The three defendants in this appeal - Jose Vizcarrondo-Casanova, Carlos Aponte-Sobrado, and Erik Diaz-Colon - were convicted of crimes related to the kidnapping, robbery, and homicide of Elis Manuel Andrades-Telleria, a drug dealer and rival to Diaz-Colon. The defendants were among twelve people charged in a single indictment in connection with the crimes committed against Andrades-Telleria. The First Circuit affirmed all three defendants’ convictions, holding (1) the admission of evidence of prior shared criminal conduct among groups of the defendants charged in this case were permissible under Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) and 403; (2) certain remarks by the prosecutor during closing argument were not clearly and obviously improper; (3) although certain counts of Diaz-Colon’s indictment were constructively amended, the error did not prejudice Diaz-Colon; (4) the government was permitted to withdraw its plea offer made to Diaz-Colon before trial; and (5) the fact that the jury rendered inconsistent verdicts on two counts for which Diaz-Colon was convicted was not grounds for reversing Diaz-Colon’s convictions. View "United States v. Vizcarrondo-Casanova" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who was blind, requested transportation subsidies from a Maine state agency. The agency refused the request. After an unsuccessful appeal to an administrative hearing officer, Plaintiff brought suit in the federal district court. A magistrate judge recommended dismissal but suggested that Plaintiff reframe his action as one for judicial review under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff subsequently sought leave to amend his complaint to assert a claim for judicial review. The agency objected, arguing that Plaintiff’s proposed claim was barred by Maine’s general thirty-day statute of limitations for judicial review of administrative decisions. The district court allowed Plaintiff to file his proposed amended complaint and concluded that the hearing officer should have granted Plaintiff relief. The agency appealed, arguing that Plaintiff’s action for judicial review was time-barred. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s judicial review action under 29 U.S.C. 722(c)(5)(J) arises out of a post-1990 congressional enactment within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. 1658, which enactment does not explicitly incorporate any specific limitations period; and (2) accordingly, the right to judicial review that the statute creates is subject to the general catch-all limitations period contained in section 1658(a). View "Millay v. State of Maine Dep't of Labor" on Justia Law

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Defendant was indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm that had traveled in interstate commerce. Defendant moved to suppress the firearm, arguing that the officers who frisked him had no reasonable suspicion that he was armed and dangerous. The district court denied the motion. Defendant subsequently entered a conditional guilty plea to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, reserving his right to appeal the suppression ruling. The district court sentenced Defendant to seventy months in prison after applying a six-level sentence enhancement based on a finding that Defendant’s prior Massachusetts conviction for assault and battery constituted a crime of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines. On appeal, the First Circuit affirmed the denial of Defendant’s suppression motion but vacated Defendant’s sentence, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the search of Defendant was supported by reasonable suspicion; but (2) Defendant’s prior Massachusetts conviction did not constitute a crime of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines, and therefore, the district court improperly calculated Defendant’s base offense level. Remanded. View "United States v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that police officers used excessive force when they shot and killed her sixteen-year-old son (Anthony). The district court granted the police officers' motion for summary judgment and dismissed all claims. The officers responded to an activated burglar alarm at a liquor store, were involved in a car chase with Anthony, and when one of the officers exited his vehicle, Anthony drove towards him. The shots were fired at Anthony when he was driving towards one of the officers. The court concluded that a reasonable officer in the same circumstances would have believed that Anthony posed a threat of serious physical harm to the officer when the officer fired the shots. In any event, the officers were entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity because they did not violate clearly established law. Plaintiff failed to point to any case that clearly establishes the unconstitutionality of using deadly force to end a car chase that threatened the physical safety of the officers and others in the area. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "McGrath v. Tavares, et al." on Justia Law