Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing this complaint alleging a First Amendment claim and seeking a preliminary injunction, holding that Plaintiffs plausibly alleged a First Amendment violation.At issue was the electronic case filing system piloted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) for the state's trial courts, which resulted in delayed access. Plaintiffs, state and federal news agencies, sued Defendants, state court officials, alleging violations of their First Amendment rights. Thereafter, the SJC changed its rules. The district court held that Plaintiffs had failed to state a claim, dismissed the complaint, and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction as moot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs plausibly alleged a First Amendment violation. View "Courthouse News Service v. Quinlan, Bangor Publishing Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of possession with intent to distribute forty grams or more of fentanyl, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized during a stop and warrantless search of his vehicle.After Defendant was indicted he filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained a result of the stop and search in this case. The district court denied the motion and found Defendant guilty. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion in failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on his motion to suppress and that, alternatively, the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because he was de facto placed under arrest without probable cause. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) if there was an arrest it was a lawful one; and (2) no evidentiary hearing was necessary in this case. View "United States v. Batista" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254 alleging that the prosecution violated Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S.C. 79 (1986) during his criminal trial, holding that there was no error.Based on an interaction with four white men outside an apartment building Petitioner was convicted in the Maine Superior Court of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Petitioner later filed his petition for habeas corpus. The superior court denied the petition, concluding that the prosecution's race-neutral explanation for striking the sole person of color from the jury pool was not pretextual and, therefore, that there was no purposeful discrimination. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no error. View "Hollis v. Magnusson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court issued under the stay-put provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1415(j), ordering Portland Public Schools to pay for John Doe's placement at a private school during the pendency of these proceedings, holding that the district court erred.During Doe's fourth-grade year, his parents unilaterally placed him at a private school. The Does subsequently filed for a due process hearing alleging that Portland violated the IDEA by previously finding Doe ineligible for special education services. The district court ordered Portland to pay for Doe's tuition for the duration of this litigation at Aucocisco School, where his parents had unilaterally placed him despite the fact that the hearing officer whose decision was being reviewed had determined that the individualized education plan issued by Portland would provide a free appropriate public education. Portland appealed, arguing that the district court impermissibly ordered it to pay for Doe's placement at the private school during the pendency of these proceedings. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the purposes of the IDEA were not served by having Portland continue to pay for Doe's tuition at Aucocisco. View "Doe v. Portland Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting motions to dismiss filed by defendants Charles Taylor Consulting Mexico, S.A. de C.V., James Heiden, and Pierre Barron (collectively, Charles Taylor) and Universal Insurance Co. for failure to state a claim under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs OK Resorts of Puerto Rico, Inc., Executive Fantasy Hotel, Inc., and Riverside Resort, Inc. (collectively, OK Resorts) brought this action against Charles Taylor under RICO and Puerto Rico law. The district court granted Charles Taylor's motions to dismiss after the agreed-upon discovery deadline had passed. On appeal, OK Resorts argued that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing he amended complaint at the time it did. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "OK Resorts of Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Charles Taylor Consulting Mexico, S.A. de C.V." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the ruling of the district court denying Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction in this case arising from a decision by the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives to enforce a House rule precluding any representative from participating in proceedings involving the full House, including House matters, other than in person, holding that there was no error.At issue in this COVID-19 pandemic-related case was whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RHA) authorizes a federal court to resolve a dispute among members of a state legislative body about whether votes on bills may be cast remotely rather than in person. The underlying suit named Sherman Packard, the Speaker of the House, in his official capacity. The district court denied a preliminary injunction based on the Speaker's assertion of legislative immunity. A panel of the First Circuit first vacated the injunction, but the Court subsequently granted a rehearing en banc. The First Circuit then affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in holding that the Speaker's assertion of legislative immunity prevented Plaintiffs from obtaining their requested relief. View "Cushing v. Packard" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the Town of Marblehead and its buildings commissioner, and dismissing this lawsuit brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), holding that the district court did not err.St. Paul's Foundation and the Shrine of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Patron of Sailors, Brewers and Repentant Thieves (collectively, St. Paul's), brought this action alleging that Defendants substantially burdened St. Paul's religious exercise. Specifically, St. Paul's sought to reinstate a building permit that it had secured for the redevelopment of a site on which the Shrine of St. Nicholas was located but that had been suspended prior to the completion of that construction. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that St. Paul's did not successfully advance a basis for reversing the summary judgment in this case. View "St. Paul's Foundation v. Ives" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, his former employer, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that Defendant terminated his employment because of his age and because he received a liver transplant, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging disability discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant and dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the evidence on the record did not support either Plaintiff's ADA claim or his ADEA claim. View "Lahens v. AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant's plea of guilty to one count of investment adviser fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below.On appeal, Appellant argued that her plea was not knowing and voluntary, that the evidence was insufficient to convict her of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, that several sentencing enhancements were improperly applied, and that her counsel was ineffective. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the district court's acceptance of Appellant's guilty plea; (2) Appellant's conduct clearly satisfied the statutory requirements for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft; and (3) Appellant's challenges to several aspects of her sentence were unavailing. View "United States v. Kitts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's federal and Massachusetts state law employment discrimination claims, holding that that court erred in granting summary judgment as to several of Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, an online home furnishings company with a principal place of business in Massachusetts, sued Defendant bringing claims under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 4.1, 4.4, and 4.4A. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on all claims. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly granted summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's state and federal claims for failing to remedy sexual harassment; and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Forsythe v. Wayfair, LLC" on Justia Law