Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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After a trial, Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least fifteen kilograms but less than fifteen kilograms of cocaine. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conspiracy conviction and that there were trial irregularities and errors. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because the entire drug deal was captured on video and audio showing Defendant inspecting the drugs, there was sufficient evidence to convict Defendant; and (2) Defendant’s claims of trial error were without merit. View "United States v. Martinez-Lantigua" on Justia Law
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Petitioner, a citizen of Guatemala, petitioned for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying his requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The BIA affirmed the decision of the Immigration Judge (IJ), concluding (1) the level of mistreatment Petitioner suffered did not rise to the level that could qualify as persecution to be entitled to a grant of asylum, and (2) Petitioner could not meet the requirements for withholding of removal and for protection under the CAT. The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review, holding (1) Petitioner failed to provide the court with a basis for reversing the BIA’s ruling denying his application for asylum; and (2) Petitioner failed to offer any basis on which to conclude that he could satisfy the requirements for withholding for removal or for protection under the CAT. View "Morales-Morales v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute alpha-PHP and obstruction of justice, reserving the right to appeal the denial of four of his five motions to suppress. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s denial of his four motions to suppress and claimed sentencing error. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not commit clear error in denying Defendant’s four motions to suppress incriminating evidence; and (2) the district court did not err in fashioning Defendant’s sentences, which were substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Coombs" on Justia Law
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Alvin Houston and Shawna Calhoun pleaded guilty to transporting Minor A from Maine to Massachusetts and back to Maine over an eight-day period with the intent that Minor A engage in prostitution. In these consolidated appeals, the defendants challenged their sentences of 108 months’ imprisonment each. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in applying sentencing enhancements for undue influence and computer use; (2) the government did not breach the terms of a proffer agreement in its sentencing memorandum; and (3) the district court adequately weighed the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors when fashioning Calhoun’s sentence. View "United States v. Houston" on Justia Law
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Defendant pleaded guilty, without a plea agreement, to several federal firearms offenses. Defendant already had a long criminal record, including Massachusetts convictions for unarmed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, distribution of a controlled substance, and armed assault with intent to murder. Relying on the first three convictions, the district judge sentenced Defendant as an armed career criminal to fifteen years prison. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant’s convictions for unarmed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and armed assault with intent to murder provided the necessary three predicates for his Armed Career Criminal Act sentence. View "United States v. Edwards" on Justia Law
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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud. Before trial, Defendant and his co-defendant filed motions to suppress evidence and statements that had been obtained in the previous months in connection with three traffic stops. The district court denied the motions to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress concerning a traffic stop in Kittery, Maine because the police had reasonable suspicion to justify the investigative stop as of 1:55 a.m. and the seizure was not unreasonably long; and (2) the district court did not err in denying the motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop in Ohio because there was reasonable suspicion to justify the detention. View "United States v. Ramdihall" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud. Before trial, Defendant and his co-defendant filed motions to suppress evidence and statements that had been obtained in the previous months in connection with three traffic stops. The district court denied the motions to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying the motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop in Ohio because there was no unlawful seizure, and therefore, the evidence Defendant sought to suppress did not constitute the fruits of an unlawful seizure; and (2) the district court did not err in concluding that the warrantless swiping of credit cards from in the trunk of a rental car through a card reader was constitutional. View "United States v. Hillaire" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for carjacking in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2119. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s actions were sufficient to allow a rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant actually intended to cause harm if that were necessary to steal the car; (2) the district court did not err by admitting Defendant’s confession and finding that it was voluntarily given; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give a proposed supplemental jury instruction; and (4) Defendant failed to preserve his challenge to the admission of an in-court witness identification. View "United States v. Diaz-Rosado" on Justia Law
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Municipal ordinances banning coal combustion residuals from landfills were preempted by Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board’s approval of the disposal. AES Puerto Rico, a coal-fired power plant owner, claimed that two municipal (Humacao and Peñuelas) ordinances banning the approved handling of "coal combustion residuals" (CCRs) were preempted by federal and Commonwealth law and violated various provisions of the federal and Puerto Rico constitutions. The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) had authorized disposal of coal ash at the El Coquí and Peñuelas Valley landfills within those municipalities. The district court granted summary judgment for the municipalities on AES's federal claims and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the Commonwealth claims. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the local ordinances may not be enforced to the extent they directly conflict with Commonwealth law as promulgated by the EQB. View "AES Puerto Rico, L.P. v. Trujillo-Panisse" on Justia Law

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First Circuit rejects Double Jeopardy challenge to second indictment for cocaine smuggling. On August 15, 2013, Díaz was indicted in the Southern District of Florida for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Five days later, Díaz was indicted in the District of Puerto Rico -- for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. The First Circuit rejected his argument that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred his prosecution on the Puerto Rico charges because the Florida charges already encompass the conduct for which he was indicted in Puerto Rico. While the places involved and the two statutory provisions under which Díaz was charged were the same, the lower court concluded that the conspiracies charged in the two indictments were separate ones insofar as the conduct charged in the two indictments involved distinct time periods, personnel, and evidence. View "United States v. Diaz-Rosado" on Justia Law