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

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying a judgment creditor's motion for leave to execute on the judgment and its motion for reconsideration, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in viewing the judgment creditor's collection efforts as lacking in diligence and thus deeming unwarranted an extension of the period for execution of judgments. The district court entered a consent judgment in favor of Erikon LLC and against two defendants, jointly and severally, for $7.5 million. After Defendants stopped making payments, Erikon made no meaningful effort to collect the balance of the judgment for several years. Erikon eventually moved for leave to execute on the judgment. The district court denied the motion, reasoning that Erikon had waited to file its motion until more than six years after Defendants' final payment. The court then denied Erikon's motion for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that where, over the course of more than six years, Erikon took minimal steps to enforce the judgment, the district court did not abuse its discretion in deeming unwarranted an extension of the period for execution of judgments. View "Caribbean Management Group, Inc. v. Erikon, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court on resentencing pursuant to the 2018 First Step Act that Defendant was a career offender under section 4B1.1 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, holding that Defendant failed to establish that the scope of joint venture liability under Massachusetts law is broader than under the generic standard. In classifying Defendant as a career offender, the district court relied on two Massachusetts drug convictions. On appeal, Defendant argued that the two Massachusetts drug convictions did not qualify as predicate controlled substance offenses under the career-offender guideline. Specifically, Defendant argued (1) the convictions implicitly included what was then called joint venture liability, which was broader in scope than generic aiding and abetting liability; and (2) therefore, there could not be a categorical match between the convictions and the definition of "controlled substance offense." The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Defendant's contention that his two prior state convictions were over broad and did not qualify as controlled substance offenses was unavailing; and (2) the district court properly sentenced Defendant under the career-offender guideline. View "United States v. Capelton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court granting the World Boxing Organization's (WBO) motion to compel arbitration of Austin Trout's claim under the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (MABRA), 15 U.S.C. 6309(d), and claims under Puerto Rico law for breach of contract, fraud, and negligence, holding that the arbitrator-selection provision set forth in the WBO Appeal Regulations is invalid. Trout, a professional boxer residing in New Mexico, sued the WBO, which is based in Puerto Rico, challenging the WBO's decision to remove him from its rankings for a certain weight class. The WBO moved to compel arbitration pursuant to a clause in the WBO Championship Regulations and the Federal Arbitration Act. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the claims without prejudice. The First Circuit vacated the district court's decision, holding (1) the arbitrator-selection provision that the Appeal Regulations sets forth, which grants the WBO exclusive control over the appointment of the arbitrators who will decide Trout's claims, is so unreasonable and unjust as to be unconscionable under Puerto Rico contract law; and (2) the case is remanded for the district court to determine whether the arbitrator-selection provision is severable from the remainder of the arbitration agreement. View "Trout v. Organizacion Mundial de Boxeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit declined to grant Defendant's petition for leave to file a second or successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to once again challenge his 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A) conviction and sentence for use of a firearm during a crime of violence, holding that 18 U.S.C. 2113(a) bank robbery qualifies as a crime of violence under section 924(c)'s force clause. Defendant was convicted of several offenses, including bank robbery and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. In his petition to file a second or successive motion under section 2255 to challenge his section 924 conviction, Defendant argued that section 2113(a) bank robbery is not a crime of violence under section 924(c)'s force clause because it is an indivisible statute setting forth a single offense that may be violated by alternative means, which do not necessarily have as an element the use of physical force against the person or property of another. The First Circuit denied the requested relief, holding (1) section 2113(a) bank robbery is a divisible statute setting forth distinct offenses with alternative elements; and (2) under the modified categorical approach, Defendant's offense of conviction was a crime of violence under section 924(c)'s force clause. View "King v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal challenging his sentence imposed in connection with his plea of guilty to drug-related offenses, holding that there was no miscarriage of justice and that the appeal waiver Defendant signed controlled. Defendant pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to several crimes stemming from a drug conspiracy that distributed drugs in three states. The plea agreement contained an appeal waiver. Defendant nonetheless appealed, arguing that his appeal waiver must be set aside under the "miscarriage of justice" standard set forth in United States v. Morillo, 910 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2018). The First Circuit disagreed, holding that there was no miscarriage of justice and that the appeal waiver controlled. View "United States v. Valdez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed both of Defendant's federal racketeering-related convictions but vacated and remanded the prison sentence, forfeiture order, and restitution order, holding that the district court erred in several respects. Defendant was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, federal mail fraud, and violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 331(a), 333(a). The district court sentenced Defendant to ninety-six months' imprisonment, issued a forfeiture order in the amount of $175,000, and ordered restitution. On appeal, Defendant challenged his convictions for racketeering and racketeering conspiracy and his sentence. The First Circuit remanded the case, holding (1) the convictions were supported by sufficient evidence; (2) the district court erred in its reasoning declining to apply certain enhancements; (3) neither of the two reasons the district court gave for limiting the forfeiture order was sustainable; and (4) the district court too narrowly construed who counts as a "victim" under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. View "United States v. Chin" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions but vacated and remanded his prison sentence and forfeiture order, holding that the district court erred in calculating Defendant's recommended sentencing range and erred in determining the amount of the forfeiture. A jury found Defendant guilty of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, and violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 331(a), 333(a). The district court sentenced Defendant to a prison term of 108 months - the high end of the range that it had calculated under the Guidelines. The court also imposed a forfeiture order on Defendant in the amount of $7,545,501. The First Circuit remanded the convictions but vacated the prison sentence and forfeiture order, holding (1) the district court's reasons for declining to apply two enhancements were legally erroneous; and (2) the district court erred in its forfeiture calculation. View "United States v. Cadden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this breach of contract action, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Defendants on all of Plaintiff's claims and all of Defendants' counterclaims, holding that, based on Plaintiff's waivers, summary judgment was appropriate. Plaintiff was the president of a company that Defendant Riverside Partners, LLC directed one of its portfolio companies to acquire. Defendant Steven Kaplan was a General Partner at Riverside. Plaintiff brought suit alleging that he had an oral side agreement under which Kaplan and Riverside would pay Defendant $1 million if the portfolio company acquired the company and that Defendants did not pay him. Defendant denied that any such side deal existed and counterclaimed for indemnification for breach of certain representations and warranties that Plaintiff had made. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants and awarded Defendants attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff waived enforcement of the APA's forum selection clause; (2) Defendants' indemnification claim was ripe; and (3) based on Plaintiff's waivers, the indemnification claim provided a complete defense to Plaintiff's claims and indemnification of attorneys' fees. View "Kelly v. Riverside Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of reentry after deportation and to dismiss the indictment, holding that the immigration court did not lack jurisdiction. In moving to withdraw his plea and dismiss the indictment, Appellant argued that the removal order underlying his conviction had been rendered null and void. Specifically, Appellant argued that because his notice to appear did not specify the date or time of the removal hearing the immigration court lacked jurisdiction to issue the removal order. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Appellant did not satisfy the prerequisites set forth in 8 U.S.C. 1326(d) for collaterally attacking the removal order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Goncalves Pontes v. Barr, 938 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2019) controlled, and Appellant's jurisdictional argument failed. View "United States v. Mendoza-Sanchez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence for two drug-trafficking offenses and two money-laundering offenses, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The district court sentenced Defendant to 324 months' imprisonment for the drug-trafficking counts of 240 months' imprisonment for the money-laundering counts, to be served concurrently. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court committed procedural errors in calculating his Guidelines sentencing range and that the sentence was substantively unreasonable under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(6), which warns against disparate sentences for similarly situated codefendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in applying the various enhancements to which Defendant had objected below; (2) any error in initially finding that Defendant's drug-trafficking offenses involved 200 kilograms of cocaine was harmless; and (3) in light of certain differences between Defendant and his codefendants, Defendant's disparity challenge is rejected. View "United States v. Hernandez-Hernandez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law