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

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an administrative order of removal, holding that Petitioner's arguments challenges to the removal order were unavailing. Petitioner was an Irish citizen who entered the United States as a child and had been living here for more than seven years when he was apprehended by immigration officials. The government charged him with having been admitted to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and having stayed here beyond the ninety-day period permitted by the visa that he secured through the VWP. The government then issued a final order of removal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) the government presented sufficient evidence of Petitioner's removability; and (2) Petitioner's procedural due process challenge to the removal order failed. View "O'Riordan v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In this suit brought by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seeking to enjoin the enforcement of two federal Interim Final Rules (IFRs), the First Circuit vacated the district court's determination that Massachusetts lacked standing to challenge the IFRs, holding that the Commonwealth had standing to challenge the rules. The IFRs at issue in this case were promulgated by the United States Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury and permitted employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to obtain exemptions from providing health insurance coverage to employees and their dependents for FDA-approved contraceptive care. The district court determined that the Commonwealth failed to establish standing because it had not set forth specific facts establishing that it would likely suffer future injury from the Departments' conduct. After the Commonwealth filed its appeal, the Departments issued final rules superseding the IFRs. The First Circuit held (1) the Commonwealth's substantive challenges to the federal regulations were not moot, but its procedural challenge to the IFRs was mooted by the promulgation of the final rules; and (2) the Commonwealth had Article III standing to challenge the Departments' actions. View "Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of the denial of his motion to reopen his 2012 order of removal, holding that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) did not err in denying the petition. In his motion to reopen his order of removal Petitioner, a Guatemalan citizen, asserted that his prior counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to file a brief with the Supreme Court in his petition for review of the BIA's denial of his previous challenge to that removal order. The BIA denied the petition, concluding that Petitioner had failed to establish either the requisite due diligence to excuse his failure to comply with the filing deadline for motions to reopen or a "likelihood of success" regarding his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to identify anything in the record that could compel the conclusion that he had shown the requisite prejudice from the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel, on which he based his motion to reopen. View "Franco-Ardon v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court ruling that the Town of Weymouth’s local ordinance, as applied to a project in which Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC sought to build a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth, was preempted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) authorizing construction of the Weymouth Compressor Station. Algonquin received a CPCN from FERC authorizing the project, but that certificate was conditioned upon the receipt of a consistency determination from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). To complete its CZMA review the Commonwealth required Algonquin to furnish a permit from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which, in turn, refused to issue such a permit until the Town of Weymouth approved the project under its local ordinance. Wemouth denied Algonquin’s permit applications. Algonquin ultimately commenced this action against Weymouth arguing that the local ordinance, as it applied to the compressor station, was preempted under federal law. The district court granted summary judgment for Algonquin. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that application of Weymouth’s ordinance to the proposed compressor station was foreclosed by federal law under the theory of conflict preemption. View "Algonquin Gas Transmission v. Weymouth Conservation Commission" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition seeking review of an order by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings based on changed country conditions within Kenya, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion. In 2013, Petitioner was first ordered removed to Kenya. In 2016, Petitioner sought to reopen proceedings, arguing that conditions within Kenya had changed since her prior removal proceedings and now supported a claim for asylum. An immigration judge (IJ) denied the motion. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the agency’s finding that Petitioner failed to establish changed country conditions. View "Wanjiku v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for judicial review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner’s untimely filed motion to reopen, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reopen and declining to equitably toll the deadline. Petitioner, a Guatemalan native and citizen, was charged with removability. An immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s application for withholding of removal. The BIA affirmed. Nearly seven years after the BIA denied his appeal, Petitioner filed motion to reopen, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. The BIA denied the motion as time-barred and declined Petitioner’s invitation to equitably toll the deadline. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA neither committed a material error of law nor acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or irrationally. View "Tay-Chan v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the decision of the U.S. Department of Labor Benefits Review Board (Board) affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of attorney’s fees and costs to Appellant, holding that Appellant's request for benefits did not result in a “successful prosecution” under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq., so as to warrant an award of attorney’s fees. At a hearing before the ALJ it was undisputed that Appellant was entitled to medical benefits due to his back injury, including for surgery in Puerto Rico. The ALJ stated that Appellant could have the surgery done in New York but would have been responsible for the additional expenses he incurred. Appellant then submitted a request for attorney’s fees on the theory that his claim had been a victory because he obtained his “right to choose” to have the surgery in New York. The ALJ denied the request, determining that Appellant did not gain any additional benefit beyond what he would have received had he not initiated the claim. The Board affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant’s request for attorney’s fees and costs was properly denied because he did not secure any additional compensation by filing his claim. View "Garcia v. Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, United States Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint against the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (Board) and its members and executive director alleging that the Board had exceeded its power under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) during the 2019 fiscal plan and territory budget development and certification processes, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim to relief. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the federal courts lacked jurisdiction the portion of the complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) the district court properly found that it lacked jurisdiction over the claims challenging the Board’s budget certification decisions; and (3) the district court properly dismissed for failure to state a claim for relief the claims that the Board exceeded its authority under PROMESA. View "Mendez-Nunez v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (Board Members) created by the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) are “Officers of the United States” subject to the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause and directed the district court to enter a declaratory judgment to the effect that PROMESA’s protocol for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional and must be severed. This matter arose from the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s public debt under PROMESA. May 2017, the Board exercised its authority under Title III of PROMESA to initiate debt adjustment proceedings on behalf of the Puerto Rico government. Appellants sought to dismiss the Title III proceedings, arguing that the Board lacked authority to initiate them because the Board Members were illegally appointed in contravention of the Appointments Clause. The district court rejected Appellants’ motions to dismiss. The First Circuit reversed in part, (1) the Territorial Clause does not displace the Appointments Clause in an unincorporated territory such as Puerto Rico; (2) Board Members are “Principal” “Officers of the United States” subject to the Appointments Clause; and (3) therefore, the process PROMESA provides for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional. View "Aurelius Investments, LLC v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upholding the immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of Petitioner’s application for both withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the BIA’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, the BIA ruled that the only social group to which Petitioner claimed to belong was not a social group that was statutorily protected and that Petitioner was not entitled to protection under the CAT. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s challenges to the BIA’s decision failed. View "Agustin v. Whitaker" on Justia Law