Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress drugs, a digital scale, and a firearm obtained following a traffic stop of the vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger. In his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the evidence was obtained through an illegal search and pat-frisk. The district judge denied the motion after an evidentiary hearing, finding that the pat-frisk was warranted. Defendant then pled guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that the totality of the circumstances provided a particularized objective basis for the officer’s suspicion that Defendant was armed and dangerous, and therefore, the district court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "United States v. Orth" on Justia Law

by
While police officers conducted an unlawful search by testing a key in the lock of the unit in which he was staying, the district court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress because, in searching the apartment, the officers relied in good faith on a warrant issued to search that unit. The key was seized from Defendant during a search incident to his arrest. The police tried the key on doors to apartments inside a multi-family building outside which Defendant was arrested. The key opened the door to one of the units. When a warrant issued, police searched the unit and discovered a firearm and drugs. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was subsequently convicted drug- and firearm-related crimes. The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding (1) there was an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but the exclusionary rule should not apply in this case; (2) the district court did not err in admitting evidence that there was a credit-card-making machine in the unit; and (3) under plain error review, there was no error in the district court’s application of the fifteen-year-mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. View "United States v. Bain" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit dismissed portions of this interlocutory appeal for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s ruling that Defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage. Stephen McKenney died at the hands of Defendant, a police officer “who was trying to do his job.” Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Defendant’s use of deadly force transgressed McKenney’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendant filed an interlocutory appeal challenging a pretrial ruling in which the district court denied summary judgment for Defendant on qualified immunity grounds. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal in part for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment, holding (1) certain aspects of the interlocutory order denying summary judgment were not appealable; and (2) while this court had jurisdiction to consider whether the contours of the relevant Fourth Amendment law were so blurred at the time Defendant shot McKenney that he was deserving of qualified immunity, the argument lacked force. View "McKenney v. Mangino" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s convictions of five counts of wire fraud, five counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, two counts of filing false tax returns, and one count of bank fraud. The court held (1) the district court acted within its discretion in conducting its inquiry into the colorable allegation of juror misconduct and did not err in finding that no juror misconduct occurred; (2) the district court did not deprive Appellant of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice by denying his continuance motion; and (3) even assuming that the bank fraud counts were improperly joined with the remaining counts, any misjoinder was harmless. View "United States v. Zimny" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s eight-count complaint. Plaintiff filed his complaint in state court against the servicers, holders, and assignees of his mortgage loan. Relevant to this appeal was count one, a claim predicated on the Massachusetts Predatory Home Loan Practices Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183C. The matter was removed to federal court, which dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 183C was time-barred, and Plaintiff presented no reason to toll the applicable statute of limitations; and (2) the trial justice did not err in denying Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint because the amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Rife v. One West Bank, F.S.B." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s sentence of ten years’ imprisonment imposed after Appellant pleaded guilty to one count of accessing child pornography with the intent to view it. On appeal, Defendant asked the First Circuit to declare the mandatory minimum sentence for accessing child pornography applicable to any individual who has a prior state conviction for abusive sexual conduct involving a minor unconstitutional as violative of the Due Process Clause. The First Circuit held (1) the mandatory minimum sentence established under 18 U.S.C. 2252A(b)(2) is consistent with the Due Process Clause; and (2) Defendant’s ten-year sentence was not grossly disproportionate to the crime that he committed and thus did not infringe on his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. View "United States v. Blodgett" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the summary judgment granted to Defendants as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiff, a Massachusetts property owner, brought this lawsuit against three police officers challenging the owner’s arrest for actions that he took in connection with his objection to the clearing of vegetation on his property by the work crew for an electrical utility that held an easement on the owner’s property. Specifically, the First Circuit (1) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to the officers on Plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim and the claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 11I; (2) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to one of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims; and (3) vacated the entry of summary judgment as to two of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims and as to all three officers on the false imprisonment claim and remanded with instructions that the district court remand those claims to state court, holding that contested state law issues prevented summary judgment. View "Wilber v. Curtis" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first degree murder. Defendant took a collateral challenge to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. The SJC affirmed Defendant’s conviction. A federal district court denied Defendant’s subsequent petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the SJC clearly understood and reasonably rejected Defendant’s claims on the merits in a manner consistent with federal constitutional law; and (2) to the extent that the SJC misapprehended Defendant’s argument regarding his Fifth Amendment rights, Defendant suffered no prejudice because his Strickland argument would not have prevailed. View "Johnston v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the revocation of his attorney’s license, holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred his suit. After the Rhode Island Supreme Court suspended Plaintiff from practicing law for one year, Plaintiff filed this federal suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against nearly two dozen judicial officers and administrators who had participated in his disciplinary proceedings, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under both the Rhode Island and the United States Constitutions. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss primarily on the grounds that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine divested the court of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly ruled that Plaintiff’s suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. View "McKenna v. Curtin" on Justia Law

by
Police officers’ warrantless entry into the home of Plaintiffs and their subsequent arrest of one of the plaintiffs violated clearly established law. Plaintiffs, Charles and Lesa Morse, sued Defendants, police officers, alleging that Defendants’ warrantless entry into their home and the subsequent arrest of Charles violated their Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Plaintiffs also claimed that Defendants transgressed the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that exigent circumstances justified their warrantless entry and that the events amounted to a doorway arrest. The district court refused to grant either summary judgment or, by implication, qualified immunity based on exigent circumstances. Defendants appealed. The First Circuit dismissed substantial portions of the interlocutory appeals for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed, holding that Defendants’ conduct violated clearly established law. View "Morse v. Cloutier" on Justia Law