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Defendant challenged his 560-month sentence, entered pursuant to a guilty plea, for brandishing and discharging firearms during a crime of violence. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the government breached the plea agreement by arguing at the sentencing hearing that Defendant “had not accepted responsibility”; and (2) his and his co-defendant’s sentences were “unduly disparate.” The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no breach of the plea agreement; and (2) Defendant’s 560-month sentence was not substantively unreasonable in light of his co-defendant’s 380-month sentence where Defendant was more culpable than his co-defendant. View "United States v. Ortiz-Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of nine years’ imprisonment imposed in connection with his conviction for violating 18 U.S.C. 371 and 666(a) by conspiring to bribe and paying a bribe to a judge on the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance. The First Circuit held that the district court (1) did not err in calculating the value of the benefit to the judge; (2) did not err by finding that the criminal activity involved five or more participants; (3) followed the preferred methodology when it determined Defendant’s sentence; (4) did not abuse its discretion by considering evidence of Defendant’s prior acts; (5) was not required to inform Defendant that it intended to rely on evidence from Defendant’s detention hearing and public corruption statistics; and (6) imposed a variance, not a departure. View "United States v. Acevedo-Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s 151-month prison sentence imposed after he pled guilty to drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in sentencing him as a career offender based on his prior drug convictions under N.Y. Penal Law 110 and 220.31 and in applying the criminal-livelihood enhancement under section 2D1.1(b)(15)(E) of the sentencing guidelines. The First Circuit found no error, holding (1) the district court correctly sentenced Defendant under the career-offender guideline because Defendant’s two prior drug convictions under New York law constituted predicate offenses under the career-offender provision, 4B1.1 of the sentencing guidelines; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant qualified for the criminal-livelihood enhancement under section 4B1.3 of the sentencing guidelines. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to (1) dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under Massachusetts law for libel and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, (2) bar portions of Plaintiffs’ Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim from going forward, and (3) award attorney’s fees and costs to Defendant. These consolidated appeals concerned a lawsuit that involved a number of claims arising under federal copyright law, state tort law, and chapter 93A. Defendant operated a website called RipoffReport.com. Plaintiffs were a Massachusetts attorney, a corporate entity that the attorney created, and Christian DuPont. Plaintiffs’ claims pertained to a dispute arising from two reports that DuPont authored and posted on the Ripoff Report and that were highly critical of the attorney. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s partial grant of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and the district court’s fees award order for the reasons stated above. View "Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed portions of this interlocutory appeal for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s ruling that Defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage. Stephen McKenney died at the hands of Defendant, a police officer “who was trying to do his job.” Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Defendant’s use of deadly force transgressed McKenney’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendant filed an interlocutory appeal challenging a pretrial ruling in which the district court denied summary judgment for Defendant on qualified immunity grounds. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal in part for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment, holding (1) certain aspects of the interlocutory order denying summary judgment were not appealable; and (2) while this court had jurisdiction to consider whether the contours of the relevant Fourth Amendment law were so blurred at the time Defendant shot McKenney that he was deserving of qualified immunity, the argument lacked force. View "McKenney v. Mangino" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s convictions of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both. The convictions arose from Appellant’s writing of false opinion letters so that his two co-conspirators could sell stock to the public in a “pump and dump” scheme. On appeal, Appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions in light of his interpretation of section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act and that the district court constructively amended the indictment in its instructions to the jury. The First Circuit held (1) even if Appellant’s interpretation of section 3(a)(9) was correct, the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; and (2) Appellant’s constructive amendment claim was without merit. View "United States v. Weed" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court accepting Appellant’s guilty plea and his resulting sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court sentenced Appellant to fifty-seven months in prison and three years of supervised release, a sentence that was to be served consecutively to Appellant’s earlier sentence for violating the terms of his supervise release. The court held (1) Appellant’s guilty plea was knowing and voluntary; (2) the government did not engage in a clear or obvious breach of the plea agreement by recommending a sentence of fifty-seven months; and (3) the trial court did not violate Appellant’s right to allocution. View "United States v. Tanco-Pizarro" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), holding that the FTCA’s discretionary function exception applied and, therefore, that the government had not waived its sovereign immunity. In her suit, Plaintiff alleged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) negligently supervised the use of its surveillance equipment by her then-husband, an FBI agent. The district court dismissed the suit for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff did not plead sufficient specific facts to show that the challenged conduct did not involve a discretionary function, she was not entitled to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity. View "Gordo-Gonzalez v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s convictions of five counts of wire fraud, five counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, two counts of filing false tax returns, and one count of bank fraud. The court held (1) the district court acted within its discretion in conducting its inquiry into the colorable allegation of juror misconduct and did not err in finding that no juror misconduct occurred; (2) the district court did not deprive Appellant of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice by denying his continuance motion; and (3) even assuming that the bank fraud counts were improperly joined with the remaining counts, any misjoinder was harmless. View "United States v. Zimny" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s eight-count complaint. Plaintiff filed his complaint in state court against the servicers, holders, and assignees of his mortgage loan. Relevant to this appeal was count one, a claim predicated on the Massachusetts Predatory Home Loan Practices Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183C. The matter was removed to federal court, which dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 183C was time-barred, and Plaintiff presented no reason to toll the applicable statute of limitations; and (2) the trial justice did not err in denying Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint because the amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Rife v. One West Bank, F.S.B." on Justia Law