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 in favor of the Fay School, Inc. and Fay's Head of School as to Appellants' complaint alleging unlawful retaliation for demands for an accommodation for a certain condition of G., a twelve-year-old minor, holding that the district court correctly denied Appellants' claims. G., a former student of the Fay School, and her parents (collectively, Appellants) brought this suit against Fay after the school refused to remove wireless internet from its classrooms to accommodate G.'s alleged electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Appellants alleged, among other claims, unlawful retaliation for an accommodation for G.'s condition, in violation of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 49 U.S.C. 12203(a), breach of contract, and misrepresentation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) damages are not an available remedy for a Title V retaliation claim premised upon an exercise of rights under Title III of the ADA; and (2) Appellants failed to raise triable issues of fact as to their contract and misrepresentation claims. View "G. v. Fay School" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Harold Shurtleff's request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the City of Boston from denying him a permit to temporarily raise a "Christian flag" on a government-owned flagpole in front of its City Hall, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Shurtleff's request for a preliminary injunction. Shurtleff, in his role as director of Camp Constitution, a volunteer organization, organized an event to be held at the plaza in front of City Hall to celebrate the Christian community's contributions to the City and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Shurtleff sought a permit from the City to raise a Christian flag on one of the City Hall Plaza flagpoles during the celebration. The City denied Shurtleff's flag-raising request. Shurtleff and Camp Constitution filed suit raising Establishment Clause, Free Speech and Equal Protection claims and seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the City from denying them a permit to raise the flag. The district court denied the injunction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to establish a likelihood of success on their claims against the City. View "Shurtleff v. City of Boston" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the magistrate judge rejecting Anne Kaczmarek's motion to dismiss this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on grounds of absolute immunity, holding that Kaczmarek, a former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, was not entitled to absolute government attorney immunity. Plaintiff filed this action against seventeen defendants after the dismissal of his Massachusetts criminal conviction for drug distribution. Plaintiff alleged that Kaczmarek unlawfully withheld exculpatory evidence from Plaintiff's counsel, from the district attorney, and from the state court. The magistrate judge rejected Kaczmarek's motion to dismiss on grounds of absolute immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Kaczmarek did not enjoy absolute prosecutorial immunity from Plaintiff's suit on any of her theories. View "Penate v. Kaczmarek" on Justia Law

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After a divided panel of the First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Mark Eves's equitable claims against Paul LePage and dismissed his 42 U.S.C. 1983 damages claims on the basis of qualified immunity, the First Circuit granted Eves's petition for rehearing en banc and held that LePage was entitled to qualified immunity. In 2016, the panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the First Amendment retaliation suit brought by Eves, then-speaker of Maine's House of Representatives, against LePage, then-Governor of Maine, in which Eves alleged that LePage leveraged discretionary state funding in a yet unpasted state budget to coerce an organization to terminate Eves's upcoming employment as its president. In his en banc petition, Eves pursued only his damages claim against LePage for alleged political affiliation discrimination. The First Circuit en banc court held that, under the facts of this case, LePage was entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable governor in the position of LePage could have believed Eves's position as the new president of the organization to be a policymaking position for which political affiliation was relevant. The Court then reinstated in part its prior panel opinion and affirmed the dismissal of this action. View "Eves v. LePage" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment after treating the motion as a motion to dismiss pursuant too Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the district court applied the wrong legal standard in adjudicating Defendants' summary judgment motion. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that his employer had discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin and subjected him to retaliation. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court considered the motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a plausible claim and granted the motion. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court's attempt to transform Defendants' fully developed motion for summary judgment into a motion to dismiss was an abuse of discretion. View "Rios-Campbell v. U.S. Department of Commerce" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction based on his guilty plea for production of child pornography, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. After entering his guilty plea, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea, arguing that his counsel, in advising him with respect to the guilty plea, had provided him with ineffective assistance of counsel by not having moved pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to suppress certain evidence. Acknowledging that Defendant would be entitled to withdraw his guilty plea if his counsel had failed to file a meritorious suppression motion, the district court held a hearing. The court denied Defendant's motion, concluding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights had not been violated. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to show that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. View "United States v. Powell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and the municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico on the Comite Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian, Inc.'s (the Comite) trademark-infringement and First Amendment retaliation, political discrimination, and religious discrimination claims, holding that the district court did not err in entering summary judgment for the government defendants on these claims. The Comite, a non-profit corporation that promotes and helps run the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian festival in San Juan, brought this lawsuit after it received a diminished assigned role as vendor and presenter at the 2015 festival. The district court granted summary judgment for the government defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) this Court had jurisdiction to consider the Comite's appeal; and (2) the district court properly granted summary judgment disposing of the Comite's claims. View "Comite Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian, Inc. v. Cruz" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an administrative order of removal, holding that Petitioner's arguments challenges to the removal order were unavailing. Petitioner was an Irish citizen who entered the United States as a child and had been living here for more than seven years when he was apprehended by immigration officials. The government charged him with having been admitted to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and having stayed here beyond the ninety-day period permitted by the visa that he secured through the VWP. The government then issued a final order of removal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) the government presented sufficient evidence of Petitioner's removability; and (2) Petitioner's procedural due process challenge to the removal order failed. View "O'Riordan v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for postconviction relief, holding that trial counsel's failure to consult with Petitioner about an appeal deprived Petitioner of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. This appeal required the First Circuit to apply the presumption of prejudice set forth in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), in circumstances in which a defense attorney violates his or her duty to consult with a client about an appeal when the defendant reasonably demonstrated that he or she was interested in appealing or when a rational defendant would want to appeal. In the instant case, Petitioner previously executed a plea agreement containing a waiver-of-appeal provision. Petitioner filed a pro se petition to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal. The district court held that Flores-Ortega's presumption of prejudice was inapposite because Petitioner had executed an appeal waiver. The First Circuit reversed, holding that trial counsel did not properly discharge his duty to consult and that counsel's constitutionally deficient performance prejudiced Petitioner by depriving him of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. View "Rojas-Medina v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendants, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and the State, on Plaintiff's complaint alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. In his complaint, Plaintiff claimed that the Department's promotion practices had a disparate impact on minority employees and that the Department declined to promote her because she is black. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiff could not show a disparate impact in the absence of statistical and statistically significant evidence, the district court correctly granted summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiff's claim of disparate impact; and (2) Plaintiff failed to present enough evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that Defendants' stated reason for failing to promote her was pretextual. View "Luceus v. State" on Justia Law