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

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to overturn his 2010 New Hampshire conviction for aggravated felonious sexual assault, holding that the district court properly rejected Petitioner's Sixth Amendment claim.In his habeas petition, Petitioner asserted that his Sixth Amendment right to autonomy to determine the objectives of his defense when his counsel took certain actions to present a defense at trial, despite Petitioner's instructions not to do so. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not denied autonomy to direct the objectives of his defense when his trial counsel presented an active defense contrary to Petitioner's express wishes. View "Kellogg-Roe v. Gerry" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to suppress evidence recovered during a traffic stop, holding that the district court did not err when it denied the motion to suppress.Appellant entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, reserving the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress both statements he made at the scene of his traffic stop and the physical evidence obtained during the stop. In denying the motion to suppress, the district court concluded that the law enforcement officer had reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant's car. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the officer had a reasonable basis to believe Appellant had committed a traffic infraction and thus to perform a traffic stop. View "United States v. Miles" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of knowingly distributing child pornography, holding that the district court did not err in excluding the testimony of Dr. Robert Weiss, a therapist and relationship specialist with a speciality in sex addiction.Defendant's prisonmate, Dmitry Bron, was working with law enforcement when Defendant shared his collection of images of child sexual abuse with Bron. At trial, Defendant attempted to pursue an entrapment defense and sought to introduce the testimony of Dr. Weiss. The district court granted the government's motion to exclude Dr. Weiss, concluding that the testimony was not relevant to Defendant's defense. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Dr. Weiss's testimony on the ground that it was not relevant. View "United States v. Saemisch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' joint motion to dismiss the charges against them on retrial, holding that the district court did not err.Defendants - Raymond Garraway and Cordwell Bennett - were convicted for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Defendants moved for a mistrial. The district court granted the motion on the basis of the prosecution's improper arguments made at closing. When the prosecution began to retry them, Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss for violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. The district court denied the motion, finding that the prosecution did not intend to provoke a mistrial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the record amply supported the district court's decision. View "United States v. Garraway" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer and conspiring to do the same, holding that there was no error, plain or otherwise, in the proceedings below.Defendant committed a cyberattack against Boston Children's Hospital and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network causing both to lose their internet capabilities for several weeks. Defendant publicly admitted responsibility for the attacks. After an eight-day trial, Defendant was convicted for intentionally causing damage to a protected computer and conspiring to cause damage to a protected computer. The First Circuit affirmed (1) there was no violation of the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. 3161-3174; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress; (3) there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's denial of the four motions to withdraw that were filed by Defendant's trial counsel; (4) the district court did not err in precluding Defendant from raising a defense-of-others argument at trial; and (5) the trial judge did not err in denying three recusal motions Defendant made pro se after the verdict but before sentencing. View "United States v. Gottesfeld" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the ruling of the district court rejecting Defendant's request for a Franks hearing before Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant a Franks hearing.Defendant was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and one count of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to search warrants and sought a Franks hearing on the basis of two alleged material omissions from the warrant affidavit. The district court denied both Defendant's Franks motion and his motion to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in ruling that Defendant had failed to make the threshold showing necessary to obtain a Franks hearing. View "United States v. Leonard" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the federal convictions challenged on appeal by the two defendants in this case - Noel de Leon-De la Rosa and Juan Batista Johnson-Debel - holding that vacatur was required of Defendants' challenged convictions for different reasons.Defendants were both convicted of destruction of a controlleded substance while on a vessel and conspiracy to destroy a controlled substance while on a vessel (counts five and six). The First Circuit vacated Defendants' of counts five and six, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (2) the admission of Johnson's statement in the defendants' joint trial violated De Leon's rights under the Confrontation Clause to the Federal Constitution; and (3) as to Johnson's convictions, the district court constructively amended the indictment through its instructions to the jury. View "United States v. De Leon-De la Rosa" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to vacate her federal conviction and sentence on the grounds that her appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), for failing to raise a claim on direct appeal under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), holding that the district court erred.Defendant and her co-defendants were convicted of various drug-trafficking offenses. In their direct appeals, Defendant's co-defendants successfully argued that the government's failure to produce several clearly relevant documents that plainly called into question the credibility of the government's key witnesses against Defendant and her co-defendants violated their due process rights under Brady. The First Circuit vacated the co-defendants' convictions and remanded for a new trial. Because Defendant did not raise the Brady violation on her simultaneous appeal, she was denied relief. Thereafter, Defendant brought this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) Defendant established prejudice under Strickland; and (2) the failure to raise the Brady claim was the result of deficient performance by appellate counsel. View "Flores-Rivera v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion for a mental competency examination and motion to withdraw his plea and then sentencing him for his offenses, holding that there was no error.Defendant pleaded guilty to to two armed carjackings, armed robbery, and using and carrying a firearm in connection with a carjacking. More than three months after Defendant entered his plea a sentencing hearing was held. At the hearing, Defendant requested a mental competency examination and moved to withdraw his plea pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11 on the grounds that he was confused at the change-of-plea hearing and felt pressure to plead as a result. The district court denied both motions and then sentenced Defendant a term nine months above the sentencing guidelines range. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err when it denied Defendant's motion for a determination of mental competency and motion to withdraw his plea; and (2) pronounced a sentence that was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Ramos-David" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the criminal proceedings against him, holding that Appellant was statutorily barred under 8 U.S.C. 1326(d) from bringing a collateral attack in his criminal proceeding.Defendant was charged with violating 8 U.S.C. 1326, which makes it a felony to unlawfully enter the United States while an order of removal is outstanding. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against him, arguing that the government may not use his prior removal order to prove the "outstanding order of removal" element of the crime. Defendant thus sought to dismiss his indictment based on a due process-based collateral attack on the order of removal, arguing that the entry of the order was fundamentally unfair. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's first argument had already been rejected by this Court since the district's ruling; and (2) because the removal proceeding was not fundamentally unfair Defendant did not satisfy the conditions under 8 U.S.C. 1326(d) that would permit him to collaterally attack his prior removal. View "United States v. Castillo-Martinez" on Justia Law