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The First Circuit dismissed as moot a school district’s challenge to the district court’s order compelling the school district to determine a student’s eligibility for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) without first obtaining its own evaluations and reversed the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to the student’s parents, holding that the challenge to the order was moot and the attorneys’ fee award was mistaken. M.S., a student formerly enrolled in the Westerly School District in Westerly, Rhode Island, suffered from Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Plaintiffs, M.S.’s parents, unsuccessfully sought to have Westerly determine that M.S. was eligible for an IEP under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. During the dispute, the district court entered an order forcing Westerly to forego conducting its own evaluations and decide immediately if M.S. was eligible for an IEP, resulting in a determination that M.S. was not eligible. The court then awarded Plaintiffs attorneys’ fees as the prevailing parties. On appeal, the First Circuit held (1) because M.S. and Plaintiffs have since moved out of the Westerly school district, this Court lacked the power to review the order that Westerly determine M.S.’s eligibility without first conducting its own evaluations; and (2) the attorneys’ fees award was not proper because Plaintiffs were not the prevailing parties. View "J.S. v. Westerly School District" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 168 months in prison imposed in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and cocaine, holding that Defendant’s appeal waiver was enforceable and barred his appeal. Defendant’s guilty plea, the result of a plea bargain with the government, included an express waiver of Defendant’s right to appeal his conviction or sentence if his sentence rested on a base offense level no lower than twenty-six and no higher than thirty. At sentencing, the district judge ruled that Defendant had a base offense level of thirty. The First Circuit held that Defendant’s appeal waiver barred his challenges to his sentence because he failed to meet the plain error test set forth in United States v. Borrero-Acevedo, 533 F.3d 11 (1st Cir. 2008), or to establish that that the miscarriage of justice exception established in United States v. Teeter, 257 F.3d 14 (1st Cir. 2001), applied. View "United States v. Morillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s order sending Appellant’s case to arbitration, holding that the arbitration agreement between the parties was enforceable and did not fail for lack of consideration or unconscionability. Appellant and his employer entered into an agreement outlining the terms for Appellant’s continued at-will employment, which included an arbitration agreement. After Appellant was fired, Appellant filed this federal court lawsuit against Appellees alleging that his discharged violated several federal and state laws. Appellees moved to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration. In response, Appellant argued that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable for lack of consideration and that the agreement was unconscionable and thus, unenforceable. The district court granted Appellees’ motion, concluding that a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement existed between the parties. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that both Appellant’s consideration and unconscionability arguments failed. View "Britto v. Prospect CharterCare SJHSRI, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Appellant, who was serving a life sentence in a state correctional facility, holding that the state rulings challenged by Appellant were neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent. In 1995, Appellant was convicted by a Massachusetts jury of first degree murder. Appellant later field this petition for habeas corpus, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) did not unreasonably reject Appellant’s arguments that the trial judge’s omission of a jury instruction requested by Appellant and the trial judge’s giving of another instruction requested by the prosecution violated his due process rights; (2) the SJC did not unreasonably reject Appellant’s argument that misconduct in the prosecutor’s closing arguments violated his due process rights; (3) the admission of statements made by non-testifying co-conspirators did not result in a fundamentally unfair trial; and (4) the SJC did not unreasonably apply Supreme Court case law in affirming the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for a mistrial. View "Hardy v. Maloney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the district court denying Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint and compel arbitration based on the parties’ signed arbitration agreement, holding that, contrary to the conclusion of the district court, Defendants’ offer of continued at-will employment was valid consideration for the agreement. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that Defendants fired him in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the agreement failed for lack of consideration. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the agreement was supported by adequate consideration; and (2) Plaintiff’s motion to supplement the record is denied. The Court remanded the case with instructions to grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. View "Conduragis v. Prospect CharterCARE, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s claim that Defendants conspired against him and violated the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 11H, 11I by depriving him of his protected property right of continued employment with the Salisbury Police Department (SPD), holding that summary judgment was properly granted. In 2010, Cornelius Harrington, the Salisbury town manager, hired Robert St. Pierre to investigate allegations of misconduct by the then-police chief. During the investigation, St. Pierre uncovered evidence of alleged wrongdoing by Plaintiff, an officer at the SPD. After a follow-up investigation, Harrington terminated Plaintiff from his employment. An arbitrator later reversed that decision. Plaintiff retired soon after and filed this lawsuit against Harrington and St. Pierre. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper where Plaintiff offered little evidence beyond bald speculation for the existence of a conspiracy and failed to show that his constitutional rights ere interfered with by “threats, intimidation, or coercion,” as required by the MCRA. View "Thomas v. Town of Salisbury" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for a sentence reduction, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion. Defendant pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute between fifteen to fifty kilograms of cocaine. The trial judge sentenced Defendant to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Thereafter, the U.S. Sentencing Commission adopted Amendment 782, which reduced by two levels the base offense level for the crime to which Defendant pleaded guilty. Defendant subsequently filed a motion seeking a reduced sentence. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit remanded the case, and on remand, the district court again denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion seeking a reduced sentence. View "United States v. Rodriguez-Rosado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence of seventy-seven months’ imprisonment and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that, under the Jones Act, 48 U.S.C. 864, the district court impermissibly considered an untranslated Spanish-language document at Defendant’s sentencing. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. The presentence report determined that Defendant qualified as a “career offender” because he had two prior convictions for “crimes of violence.” To support the assertion that Defendant’s prior conviction for aggravated battery was a crime of violence the government attached a Spanish-language copy of a Puerto Rico judgment of conviction for the offense at issue. The district court ultimately ruled that Defendant’s aggravated battery conviction qualified as a crime of violence and that Defendant was thus a career offender. The First Circuit vacated and remanded the sentence, holding that the Jones Act required that the Court set aside the untranslated document concerning Defendant’s judgment of conviction, thus leaving the Court no basis for concluding that the district court permissibly found that Defendant’s conviction was for aggravated battery in the fourth degree. View "United States v. Reyes-Rivas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit granted a writ of advisory mandamus sought by the Rhode Island Department of Education and Training (Department) and directed the district court to vacate its denial of a motion to quash a federal grand jury subpoena of certain Department records, holding that the District of Rhode Island erred in ruling that the attorney-client privilege is categorically unavailable to a state government in receipt of a federal grand jury subpoena. A federal grand jury sitting in the District of Rhode Island subpoenaed certain records from the Department. The Department moved to quash the subpoena to the extent it sought to compel production of documents containing confidential communications between Department staff and legal counsel. The district court denied the motion to quash, concluding that, as a categorical matter, the attorney-client privilege does not shield communications between government lawyers and their clients from a federal grand jury. The First Circuit granted the Department’s petition for a writ of advisory mandamus directing the district court to quash the subpoena, holding that this Court does not sustain the categorical rule that a state government has no attorney-client privilege that can be invoked in response to a grand jury subpoena. View "In re Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to the City of Providence, Rhode Island (the City) as to Plaintiff’s complaint for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, and related state anti-discrimination laws, holding that the district court properly entered summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims. Following an injury that he sustained while on duty, Plaintiff, a veteran police officer in the City, sued the City for discrimination. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on all claims, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to establish that he was disabled within the meaning of the ADA and failed to show a cognizable disability as to his state-law claims. Although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, the First Circuit affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly entered on Plaintiff’s claims. View "Mancini v. City of Providence" on Justia Law