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

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's partial denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized from Defendant's home on the day of his arrest on drug and money laundering charges, holding that the district court properly determined that certain items were lawfully seized but that it could not be determined on the record that other items were lawfully seized. The district court concluded that federal law enforcement agents validly relied on exceptions to the warrant requirement when they searched Defendant's home, a cargo van inside Defendant's garage, and a minivan parked in Defendant's driveway. The First Circuit held (1) the district court correctly determined that certain items were lawfully seized from the first floor; (2) it could not be determined whether items on the second floor and in the cargo van were lawfully seized, and therefore, remand was required for further findings concerning the duration and scope of the purported protective sweep; (3) remand was required for reconsideration of the issue of application of the automobile exception to the cargo van based on the court's conclusions regarding the sweep; and (4) as to items seized from the minivan, remand was necessary for a determination whether the minivan was within the curtilage of Defendant's home. View "United States v. Hernandez-Mieses" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence in connection with Defendant's guilty plea to reentering the United States illegally as a removed alien, holding that his mid-range sentence of forty months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release was both substantively and procedurally reasonable. Defendant pleaded guilty to reentering the United States illegally as a removed alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326(b)(2). The district court sentenced Defendant to forty months' imprisonment, followed by a supervised release term of three years. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly treated the properly calculated guideline sentencing range as the starting point in determining Defendant's sentence, and the district court properly explained the basis for the sentence; and (2) the sentence was substantively reasonable because the sentencing court gave a plausible sentencing rationale and reached a defensible result. View "United States v. Abreu-Garcia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this foreclosure case, a panel of the First Circuit withdrew its earlier opinion in this case, vacated the judgment below, and certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), reasoning that if serious harm was threatened as a result of this litigation that might prompt the SJC to reexamine its precedents, the SJC can address it. In the First Circuit's previous decision, the panel concluded that JP Mortgage Chase, holder of a mortgage on Plaintiffs' home, could not properly foreclose the mortgage based on Plaintiffs' failure to pay their required months installments because the foreclosure notice was inaccurate. Citing wide support from the banking community, Chase filed a petition for rehearing, claiming that a state banking regulation required Chase to use the precise language it had used in its pre-foreclosure notice to Plaintiffs. The First Circuit ordered certification of a question to the SJC regarding the pre-foreclosure notice in this case and whether the notice was inaccurate or deceptive in a manner that rendered the subsequent foreclosure sale void under Massachusetts law. View "Thompson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts and the Town's chief of police, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983, holding that Plaintiff could not reasonably have expected privacy in his phone service provider's cell and home phone records. In 2015, the chief of police opened an internal investigation concerning Plaintiff, a police officer with the Town. In 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint alleging that Defendants compelled Plaintiff to turn over his phone records in connection with the investigation and that this constituted an illegal warrantless search in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that a phone subscriber has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone service provider's records of the numbers that the subscriber has dialed and from which the subscriber as received calls, and Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the records simply because he asked for a copy of the records at issue. View "Johnson v. Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, a food services and facilities company, in three individual cases brought by employees of the company, holding that Plaintiffs' individual claims alleging violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act failed. Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendant for alleged violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 152A, and then moved for class certification. The district court denied the motion for lack of sufficient commonality and typicality. Three individual plaintiffs' cases proceeded to summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant's actions were protected under the safe harbor provision of the Tips Act. The First Circuit affirmed the entry of summary judgment without reaching the merits of the class certification issue, holding that Plaintiffs' claims did not warrant relief. View "Lazo v. Sodexo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit upheld the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) refusing to reopen Petitioner's removal proceedings, holding that the BIA properly determined that the conditions Petitioner faced in her homeland had not materially changed during the relevant period. Petitioner, a Ugandan national, conceded removability. The immigration judge (IJ) ordered Petitioner removed to Uganda, a final agency order that Petitioner did not appeal. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely motion to reopen her removal proceedings, which the IJ and BIA rejected. Petitioner later filed a second motion to reopen. The BIA denied the motion, determining that it was procedurally barred and that Petitioner failed to establish a material change in Ugandan country conditions. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in finding that Petitioner failed to show a material change in country conditions. View "Nantume v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint alleging medical malpractice and negligence against a hospital and several other healthcare providers, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding an expert witness as a sanction for Plaintiff's noncompliance with a scheduling order. After Defendants answered the complaint the district court entered a scheduling order setting a deadline for the disclosure of Plaintiff's expert reports. More than a year after the deadline the district court had set for the disclosure of Plaintiff's experts' reports, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's potential expert witness. The district court granted the motion to exclude. Thereafter, the court granted summary judgment for Defendants on the ground that Plaintiff could not prevail without admissible expert testimony. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the court below did not abuse its discretion in excluding the potential expert witness as an expert witness. View "Gonzalez-Rivera v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit granted in part and denied in part Petitioner's petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of Petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that substantial evidence did not support the BIA's decision to deny Petitioner's applications for asylum and withholding of removal. Petitioner, a citizen of Nepal, contested deportation, claiming a fear of persecution for his political beliefs if he repatriated. The IJ denied Petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under CAT. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit held (1) the Government did not meet its burden to rebut the presumption of a well-founded fear of persecution, and therefore, Petitioner was statutorily eligible to seek asylum; (2) because the BIA and IJ did not weigh the total corpus of evidence offered in support of the withholding claim, this evidence should be assessed in the first instance by the agency on remand; and (3) substantial evidence supported the BIA's denial of Petitioner's application for protection under CAT. View "Dahal v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the Fay School, Inc. and Fay's Head of School as to Appellants' complaint alleging unlawful retaliation for demands for an accommodation for a certain condition of G., a twelve-year-old minor, holding that the district court correctly denied Appellants' claims. G., a former student of the Fay School, and her parents (collectively, Appellants) brought this suit against Fay after the school refused to remove wireless internet from its classrooms to accommodate G.'s alleged electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Appellants alleged, among other claims, unlawful retaliation for an accommodation for G.'s condition, in violation of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 49 U.S.C. 12203(a), breach of contract, and misrepresentation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) damages are not an available remedy for a Title V retaliation claim premised upon an exercise of rights under Title III of the ADA; and (2) Appellants failed to raise triable issues of fact as to their contract and misrepresentation claims. View "G. v. Fay School" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of eighty-four months of imprisonment for attempted possession of child pornography, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. Defendant pleaded guilty to the offense of attempted possession of child pornography and admitted that he attempted to take photographs of a naked fourteen-year-old female victim. The district court sentenced Defendant to an upwardly variant sentence of eighty-four months' imprisonment, followed by ten years of supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the district court did not commit procedural error by relying on the government's sentencing memorandum and by crediting the victim's statements; and (2) the facts of this case fully justified the sentence. View "United States v. Montalvo-Febus" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law