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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court order dismissing claims brought by Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company, the entity that paid the clean-up costs after a large military vessel spilled over 11,000 gallons of fuel next to Boston Harbor, against American Overseas Marine Company, LLC (AMSEA) and the United States. Ironshore sought cleanup costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, a declaratory judgment finding AMSEA and the United States to be strictly liable under the OPA, and damages sounding in general admiralty and maritime law as a result of AMSEA’s and the United States’ alleged negligence. The district court dismissed all claims. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the dismissal of all of Ironshore’s claims against AMSEA; (2) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Ironshore’s OPA claims against the United States; but (3) reversed the district court’s dismissal of Ironshore’s general admiralty and maritime negligence claims brought against the United States under the Suits in Admiralty Act because these claims were not foreclosed by the OPA. View "Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254, thus affirming Defendant’s convictions, entered after a jury trial, of first-degree murder, two counts of armed robbery, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. The court held (1) any error in the trial court’s admission into evidence of a plea agreement made by a government witness did not cause Defendant the type of prejudice that would warrant habeas relief; (2) the district court’s jury instructions on the elements of felony murder were proper under Massachusetts law; and (3) trial counsel provided constitutionally effective assistance. View "Lucien v. Spencer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions on one count relating to a robbery and three counts relating to a subsequent drug conspiracy. The court also affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 250 months of imprisonment and eight years of supervised release. The court held (1) the drug charges and robbery charges were properly joined; (2) the evidence was sufficient to convict Defendant for possession with intent to distribute heroin; (3) the district court did not err by admitting evidence that Defendant viewed as inappropriately prejudicial; (4) any error on the part of the district court in limiting defense counsel’s attempt to question a defense witness on redirect was harmless; (5) the jury instructions on aiding and abetting were proper; and (6) the district court’s drug quantity determination and the two-level enhancement that the court applied for Defendant’s role as an organizer were not erroneous. View "United States v. Monteiro" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of several drug and gun offenses and sentencing him to 188 months in prison. The court held that the district court (1) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal on three counts of the indictment under Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 because a rational jury could conclude that Defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony of the handler of a narcotics-detecting dog, and Defendant was not prejudiced by any error in admitting any part of that testimony; and (3) did not err in calculating Defendant’s guideline range. View "United States v. Naranjo-Rosario" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit granted the certification requested by Petitioner that Petitioner’s successive motion to vacate his federal sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 contains a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable. Petitioner sought to argue in the district court that the new rule announced in Johnson v. United States (Johnson II), 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which was made retroactive to cases on collateral review in Welch v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1257 (2016), invalidates the residual clause of the career offender guideline applied at his sentencing, which occurred before United States v. Booker, 453 U.S. 220 (2055), made the guidelines advisory. For the reasons given in this opinion, the First Circuit certified that Petitioner’s successive motion satisfies 28 U.S.C. 2255(h)(2). View "Moore v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit sidestepped the government’s challenge to its jurisdiction in this immigration case and held that, even if it did have jurisdiction to consider Petitioner’s appeal challenging the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) denial of his motion to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen Petitioner’s case and grant his request for cancellation of removal, it must still deny the petition. Specifically, the court held (1) Petitioner’s translation-based due process claim failed because Petitioner did not show that “a more proficient or more accurate interpretation would likely have made a dispositive difference in the outcome of the proceedinng” and because the claim found next to no support in the record; and (2) Petitioner failed to state a colorable due process claim as to his second allegation of error. View "Ramirez Matias v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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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

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s orders denying Defendant’s motion to suppress wiretap evidence and denying Defendant’s two requests for evidentiary hearings in connection with the motion to suppress. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress and his related requests for evidentiary hearings. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the wiretap orders were not so lacking in particularity as to demand suppression, the wiretap applications were more than minimally adequate to justify the wiretap orders, and suppression was not required due to minimization deficiencies; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to hold either a general evidentiary hearing or a Franks hearing. View "United States v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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Here the federal government attempted to use the Hobbs Act to police the activities of members of a labor union. Defendants, two union members, were convicted of, inter alia, extortion under the Hobbs Act. The government charged that Defendants extorted property from nonunion companies when they threatened to take certain actions, such as picketing, if those companies did not give union members jobs and that Defendants extorted wages, benefits, and rights to democratic participation within the union from their fellow union members. The First Circuit (1) sustained the convictions of both defendants on count 29 under 29 U.S.C. 504(a), holding that the evidence was sufficient to support these convictions; (2) vacated the conviction for extortion of a nonunion company because the jury instructions allowed the jury to convict upon a finding that the work performed was merely unwanted; and (3) reversed all other convictions due to various errors and insufficiency of the evidence. View "United States v. Burhoe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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On July 5, 2014, the First Circuit issued an opinion affirming the district court’s decision to grant Petitioner’s motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. One week later, Respondent informed the court that Petitioner had died before the opinion issued and filed a motion for the withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 opinion. The First Circuit chose to exercise its discretion to grant Respondent’s motion for withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 because the case is now moot in light of Petitioner’s death. Thus, the opinion issued on July 5, 2017 is withdrawn and the judgment vacated as moot. The court remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the habeas petition. View "United States v. Bennett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure