Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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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 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

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, holding (1) there was no basis on which to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress; and (2) there was no error in Defendant’s conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the handgun at issue because it was discovered during an unconstitutional search of his vehicle. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the search of Defendant’s vehicle was not unconstitutional, and therefore, the weapon was not the fruit of an unlawful search and did not require suppression; and (2) Defendant’s conviction was supported by sufficient evidence of his knowing and intentional possession of the weapon. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and dismissed in part Defendant’s interlocutory appeal from the district court’s denial of her motion for summary judgment arguing that she was immune to Plaintiff’s damage claims, holding that this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to the extent Defendant challenged the district court’s assessment of the record. Defendant, a police officer, shot Plaintiff as Plaintiff was cutting himself with a knife in the waiting area of a psychiatric center. Plaintiff sued Defendant under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that Defendant violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendant moved for summary judgment based, in part, on her qualified immunity to federal damage claims arising out of the performance of her official duties as a public employee. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant could not constitutionally shoot Plaintiff unless he posed an immediate threat to herself or others and only after providing some kind of warning, if feasible. Defendant appealed. The First Circuit (1) dismissed the appeal to the extent it challenged the district court’s assessment of the factual record under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; and (2) otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment. View "Begin v. Drouin" 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 Plaintiffs’ claims that the Massachusetts firearms licensing statute, as implemented in the communities of Boston and Brookline, violates the Second Amendment, holding that the statute bears a substantial relationship to important governmental interests. Plaintiffs sought and received licenses to carry firearms in public, but the licenses allowed Plaintiffs to carry firearms only in relation to certain specified activities, denying them the right to carry firearms more generally. Plaintiff argued that the Massachusetts firearms licensing statute violates the Second Amendment. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the statute bears a substantial relationship to important governmental interests in promoting public safety and crime prevention without offending Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights. View "Gould v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim and dismissing Plaintiff’s Massachusetts state law negligence claim without prejudice, holding that the district court’s judgment was without error. Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Framingham, sued Dr. Thomas Groblewski and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare in federal district court, bringing a state law claim for common law negligence and a federal law claim under section 1983 for a violation of her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The district court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Groblewski acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim. View "Zingg v. Groblewski" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court and remanded this case for entry of judgment in favor of Plaintiff and for remedial proceedings, holding that the district court erred in finding that Rhode Island does not discriminate against students with disabilities by failing to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualifying students of the same age. Plaintiff, through her parent and on behalf of a certified class of those similarly situated, brought this action claiming that Rhode Island violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing “public education” to individuals without disabilities between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-two but does not provide special education services to individuals with disabilities of the same age. The district court concluded that the adult education programs provided to non-disabled Rhode Island students beyond the age of twenty-one do not constitute “public education” within the meaning of the IDEA. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the adult education services in Rhode Island qualify as “public education” within the meaning of the IDEA. View "K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one counts of stalking in violation 18 U.S.C. 2216A, holding that Defendant’s constitutional challenge was unsuccessful, there was no error in the district court’s jury instructions, and sufficient evidence supported the conviction. On appeal, Defendant brought a First Amendment challenge to the federal anti-stalking statute, arguing that section 2261A(2)(B) is facially overbroad and a content-based restriction on speech that does not survive strict scrutiny. The First Circuit disagreed as to this issue and the remaining issues Defendant raised on appeal, holding (1) Defendant’s First Amendment challenge to the statute was unavailing; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s request for a unanimity instruction or in giving jury instructions that precisely tracked the statute’s wording; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction. View "United States v. Ackell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision upholding the determination of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) ruling against all of Plaintiff’s claims seeking placement for her minor child in a school outside of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system, holding that there was no basis in which to reverse the district court’s decision. Plaintiff, on behalf of her minor child, initiated this proceeding pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. A hearing officer denied relief. The district court affirmed the BSEA’s decision. On appeal, Plaintiff raised a number of claimed errors during the hearing. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court applied the proper standard in evaluating the minor child’s education progress; and (2) Plaintiff’s challenges to the conduct of the hearing itself did not warrant reversal of the district court’s decision. View "Johnson v. Boston Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law