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This appeals arose from a dispute over whether application of the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law (MESTL), 2014 Mass. Legit. Serv. ch. 505 (West), to interstate rail carriers that employ workers in Massachusetts is preempted by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), 45 U.S.C. 351-369. The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the district court, holding that the RUIA, preempts some parts of the MESTL as applied to employees of interstate rail carriers. However, this case must be remanded to determine whether other parts of the MESTL that are not within the preemptive reach of the RUIA and are not otherwise preempted by other federal law might still be applied to interstate rail carriers. View "CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Healey" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) decision affirming the Immigration Judge’s (IJ) denial of her application for withholding of removal. Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, was charged with removability. Petitioner conceded removability but then applied for withholding of removal and for protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The IJ denied relief, and the BIA affirmed, concluding that Petitioner did not establish that she would likely be harmed by criminal gangs in Guatemala based upon an enumerated ground. Petitioner contested only the BIA’s ruling affirming the denial of her request for withholding of removal. The First Circuit held that there was substantial evidence to support the BIA’s findings. View "Marroquin-Rivera v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of sixty months’ imprisonment. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The district court made a guidelines calculation that, in accordance with the pre-sentence investigation report, yielded a recommended sentencing range of twelve to eighteen months’ imprisonment. The court then imposed a variant sentence of sixty months’ imprisonment, basing forty-two months on Defendant’s firearms-related conduct. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no clear or obvious error in the district court’s decision not to apply a two-level firearms enhancement and to impose a variant sentence of sixty months. View "United States v. Torres-Figueroa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of violating Maine’s assault statute. The court of appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court dismissed the indictment. The government appealed the dismissal. While the appeal was pending, the First Circuit issued its decision in United States v. Voisine, which the Supreme Court affirmed. See Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S. __ (2016). The First Circuit reversed the decision below and ordered the indictment reinstated in light of Voisine, which made it clear that Defendant’s original conviction was proper. The court then remanded the case for reentry of the judgment of conviction and the sentence, albeit with leave for Defendant to proceed with a previously preserved challenge to his sentence. View "United States v. Carter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, holding that the district court did not err, much less commit plain error, in accepting Defendant’s guilty plea. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Consistent with the terms of the plea agreement, the district court imposed a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment. The First Circuit held (1) there was no error in the district court’s acceptance of Defendant’s guilty plea; and (2) even if Defendant established that an error occurred, in light of the strength of the government’s evidence and the substantial benefit Defendant received by pleading guilty, Defendant could not demonstrate a reasonable probability that he would not have pled guilty but for the purported error. View "United States v. Diaz-Concepcion" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that the district court abused its discretion in failing to rule on the merits of Appellant’s ineffective assistance claim prior to sentencing. Appellant was charged with several counts related to a drug distribution conspiracy. Appellant was originally represented by court-appointed counsel, but after seven months Defendant retained private counsel Prior to sentencing, Appellant raised his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, arguing that his prior counsel allegedly failed to provide him with effective assistance throughout plea negotiations. The district court declined to rule on Appellant’s claim, finding it to be “premature.” Appellant ultimately pled guilty to a high plea offer negotiated by his new counsel. The First Circuit disagreed with the district court’s ruling, holding that, at times, it may be imperative for a district court to rule on a claim of ineffective assistance prior to the defendant seeking post-conviction relief, and such was true in this case. View "United States v. Ortiz-Vega" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the state prosecution of Vladek Filler for five counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of assault. After two trials and two appeals Filler was convicted only of one misdemeanor assault count. Filler subsequently filed a civil action against several defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for malicious prosecution, including a claim against the prosecuting attorney, Mary Kellett, for malicious prosecution. Kellett filed a motion to dismiss Filler’s malicious prosecution claim for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), alleging, among other claims, that she was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity. The district court concluded that Kellett was entitled to absolute immunity for actions associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process but denied the rest of Kellett’s motion to dismiss. Kelley brought an interlocutory appeal from the district court’s order. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that that, while Filler’s claim against Kellett was not clearly foreclosed by absolute immunity, the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the immunity issue. View "Filler v. Kellett" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendants Abraham Walker-Couvertier (Walker) and Dean Lugo-Diaz (Lugo) were found guilty of numerous drug-related crimes. The trial court sentenced Walker to concurrent 192-month terms of immurement on the drug counts and a consecutive sixty-month term of immurement on a firearms count. The court sentenced Lugo to concurrent 121-month terms of immurement on the various counts of conviction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants’ belated challenge to the requirement, as applied in the District of Puerto Rico, that jurors be proficient in English failed; (2) Walker’s challenge to the propriety of a traffic stop was not preserved for appellate review; (3) contrary to Defendants’ arguments, several statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument were not prejudicial; (4) there was no plain error in the challenged jury instructions; (5) the evidence was sufficient to support Lugo’s conspiracy conviction; and (6) Defendants’ claims of sentencing error were unavailing. View "United States v. Walker-Couvertier" on Justia Law

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The Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico (PREPA) executed six contracts for the delivery of fuel oil. Vitol, Inc. was a party or assignee to the six contracts, each of which included a choice of law and forum selection clause stating that disputes concerning the contract shall be litigated in Puerto Rico state courts. After PREPA learned that Vitol, S.A. had pled guilty to first degree grand larceny it filed a complaint in a Puerto Rico Court against Vitol, Inc. and Vitol, S.A. alleging that two oil supply contracts it held with Vitol, Inc. were null due to Law No. 458 of December 29, 2000 and the Puerto Rico Civil Code. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Defendants removed the claim to federal court. PREPA then filed a second complaint in a Commonwealth court regarding four additional oil supply contracts. The two cases were consolidated in federal court. The district court remanded the case to the Commonwealth court, concluding that the forum selection clauses applied to the dispute and, therefore, that the unanimity requirement of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(2)(A) could not be satisfied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that remand was proper because the forum selection clauses were enforceable, and therefore, the unanimity requirement could not be met. View "Autoridad de Energia Electrica v. Vitol, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a straight guilty plea to possession of a machine gun. The district court sentenced Defendant to thirty-three months’ imprisonment in accordance with the government’s recommendation. Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that his thirty-three-month sentence was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. In support of his claim that his sentence was procedurally unreasonable, Defendant made several arguments. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s claims of procedural error failed, and his sentence was not procedurally unreasonable; and (2) under the circumstances of this case, imposition of a thirty-three-month sentence was not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Gonzalez-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law