Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for conspiring to commit access-device fraud, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress wiretap evidence and that Defendant’s sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to suppress court-approved wiretaps, authorized during a separate investigation into a drug trafficking organization, which exposed Defendant’s involvement in a scheme to produce and make purchases with fraudulent credit cards because the affidavits supporting the wiretap applications provided facts that were minimally adequate to support the wiretap authorizations; and (2) Defendant’s sentencing challenges were unavailing. View "United States v. Delima" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for conspiring to commit access-device fraud, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress wiretap evidence and that Defendant’s sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to suppress court-approved wiretaps, authorized during a separate investigation into a drug trafficking organization, which exposed Defendant’s involvement in a scheme to produce and make purchases with fraudulent credit cards because the affidavits supporting the wiretap applications provided facts that were minimally adequate to support the wiretap authorizations; and (2) Defendant’s sentencing challenges were unavailing. View "United States v. Delima" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 75 (the district) on this complaint filed by a student’s parents on his behalf under, among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), holding that Plaintiffs were precluded from proving an element necessary for them to prevail on their ADA claim. The student at issue, B.P., was diagnosed with several disabilities. B.P.'s parents sought permission from the school district court to allow B.P. to carry an audio recording device at school to record almost everything said in his presence. The school district refused to permit the device, and the parents filed this lawsuit. The district court entered summary judgment for the district. While Plaintiffs’ appeal to the Court was pending, an IDEA hearing officer issued a decision rejecting Plaintiffs’ position that the recording device was required under the IDEA. Plaintiffs appealed only the dismissal of their disability discrimination claims against the district. In affirming, the First Circuit held that because of the hearing officer’s factual findings, Plaintiffs could not make the preliminary showing that the device would benefit B.P. in some manner, which was an element essential to sustaining their reasonable accommodation claim. Therefore, Plaintiffs could not prevail. View "Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 75 (the district) on this complaint filed by a student’s parents on his behalf under, among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), holding that Plaintiffs were precluded from proving an element necessary for them to prevail on their ADA claim. The student at issue, B.P., was diagnosed with several disabilities. B.P.'s parents sought permission from the school district court to allow B.P. to carry an audio recording device at school to record almost everything said in his presence. The school district refused to permit the device, and the parents filed this lawsuit. The district court entered summary judgment for the district. While Plaintiffs’ appeal to the Court was pending, an IDEA hearing officer issued a decision rejecting Plaintiffs’ position that the recording device was required under the IDEA. Plaintiffs appealed only the dismissal of their disability discrimination claims against the district. In affirming, the First Circuit held that because of the hearing officer’s factual findings, Plaintiffs could not make the preliminary showing that the device would benefit B.P. in some manner, which was an element essential to sustaining their reasonable accommodation claim. Therefore, Plaintiffs could not prevail. View "Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for tampering with a witness by attempting to kill him and making false statements to a federal agent, holding that the trial court did not commit plain error. The Court held (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury trial when it failed individually to question all prospective jurors about potential racial bias; (2) the government’s fingerprint expert did not make a prejudicial false statement; and (3) the district court did not commit plain error in admitting testimony as to Defendant’s physically abusive treatment of the prostitutes who worked for him. View "United States v. Casanova" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for tampering with a witness by attempting to kill him and making false statements to a federal agent, holding that the trial court did not commit plain error. The Court held (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury trial when it failed individually to question all prospective jurors about potential racial bias; (2) the government’s fingerprint expert did not make a prejudicial false statement; and (3) the district court did not commit plain error in admitting testimony as to Defendant’s physically abusive treatment of the prostitutes who worked for him. View "United States v. Casanova" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress drug evidence as having resulted from an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment, holding that the search was constitutional. At issue was whether, after completing a license check that is usual when a car is stopped for a driving offenses, the police had reasonable suspicion that a drug offense was being committed so as to justify a further period of detention while a drug detection dog repeatedly circled Defendant’s car, and whether the added time exceeded the permissible duration for the dog’s investigation. The First Circuit held (1) probable cause justified the search that led to discovery of the drugs; and (2) the approximately three minutes from the beginning of the dog’s reconnaissance to the dog’s response fell within the zone considered reasonable under the Terry rationale. View "United States v. Favreau" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress drug evidence as having resulted from an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment, holding that the search was constitutional. At issue was whether, after completing a license check that is usual when a car is stopped for a driving offenses, the police had reasonable suspicion that a drug offense was being committed so as to justify a further period of detention while a drug detection dog repeatedly circled Defendant’s car, and whether the added time exceeded the permissible duration for the dog’s investigation. The First Circuit held (1) probable cause justified the search that led to discovery of the drugs; and (2) the approximately three minutes from the beginning of the dog’s reconnaissance to the dog’s response fell within the zone considered reasonable under the Terry rationale. View "United States v. Favreau" on Justia Law

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Here, the First Circuit clarified its circuit’s emergency aid doctrine, holding that police officers seeking to justify their warrantless entry into homes need only demonstrate an objectively reasonable basis for believing that a person within the house is in need of immediate aid. See Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 47 (2009). The court thus modified its previous pronouncements in United States v. Martins, 413 F.3d 139 (1st Cir. 2005), and its progeny, clarifying that police officers need not establish that their belief approximated probable cause that such an emergency existed. In this case, the district court entered judgment for Defendants, police officers and the City of Taunton, concluding that the officers did not commit a Fourth Amendment violation because their conduct fell within the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement. The First Circuit took the opportunity in this case to clarify its emergency aid doctrine to bring its case law in line with Supreme Court precedent. The court then affirmed on the basis that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity and no claim was stated against the City. View "Hill v. Walsh" on Justia Law

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Here, the First Circuit clarified its circuit’s emergency aid doctrine, holding that police officers seeking to justify their warrantless entry into homes need only demonstrate an objectively reasonable basis for believing that a person within the house is in need of immediate aid. See Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 47 (2009). The court thus modified its previous pronouncements in United States v. Martins, 413 F.3d 139 (1st Cir. 2005), and its progeny, clarifying that police officers need not establish that their belief approximated probable cause that such an emergency existed. In this case, the district court entered judgment for Defendants, police officers and the City of Taunton, concluding that the officers did not commit a Fourth Amendment violation because their conduct fell within the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement. The First Circuit took the opportunity in this case to clarify its emergency aid doctrine to bring its case law in line with Supreme Court precedent. The court then affirmed on the basis that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity and no claim was stated against the City. View "Hill v. Walsh" on Justia Law