Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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Appellant pled guilty to one count of distributing oxycodone. In sentencing Appellant, the district court found that other uncharged drug sales were relevant to determining Appellant’s guideline sentencing range. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court applied both the wrong legal standard and the incorrect method of comparison in determining what uncharged drug sales were relevant to his sentence. The First Circuit affirmed on plain error review, holding that the district court did not commit plain error in its method of finding that the uncharged conduct was part of the same course of conduct as the offense of conviction. View "United States v. St. Hill" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed a motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, alleging that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel at stages during his criminal proceeding and that he was forced to represent himself at trial. Petitioner subsequently amended his motion to include a Brady claim. The district court concluded that the Sixth Amendment claim was time-barred, and the government conceded that the Brady claim was timely. The First Circuit refused Petitioner’s request for an expanded certificate of appealability on his Sixth Amendment claim on the grounds that it was untimely. Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that his Sixth Amendment claim was timely because it was a part of a section 2255 motion that included a timely claim. The First Circuit denied the motion for reconsideration, holding (1) the period of limitation in 28 U.S.C. 2255(f) should be applied on a claim-by-claim basis; and (2) under this approach, Petitioner’s Sixth Amendment claim was clearly time-barred. View "Capozzi v. United States" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a native of Uganda, was convicted of conspiring with his friend and countryman, whose permission to remain in the United States had expired, to arrange a sham marriage for his friend in order to secure a change in the friend’s immigration status. Defendant was sentenced to four months in prison and one year of supervised release, four months of which must be spent in home confinement. The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding (1) the evidence admitted at trial was sufficient for a jury to conclude that Defendant conspired to defraud the government; and (2) the district court did not err in calculating Defendant’s sentence. View "United States v. Serunjogi" on Justia Law

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Defendant was one of seventeen passengers in an open boat that was intercepted by Coast Guard and Border Patrol officials twenty-three nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. Defendant was subsequently convicted of illegally attempting to return to the United States after being deported. Defendant appealed, contending that he was wrongly prevented from arguing at trial that he was passing Puerto Rico on his way to the island of St. Maarten and did not intend to enter the United States illegally. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the government plainly violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 by announcing its intention to call an expert witness only five days before trial, but Defendant was not prejudiced by the violation; (2) the government did not violate Defendant’s due process rights by destroying the boat, which contained evidence of whether it had enough fuel to travel to St. Maarten, and by deporting other passengers who, Defendant argued, would have testified the boat was traveling to St. Maarten; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction. View "United States v. Bresil" on Justia Law

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While Plaintiff was imprisoned in the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) he committed misconduct that resulted in an administrative sanction of a ten-year term in the Department Disciplinary Unit (DDU), a segregated maximum security housing unit, as well as a state law criminal charge for armed assault with intent to murder. After Plaintiff completed his original criminal sentence he remained in the custody of the DOC as a pretrial detainee for the new criminal assault with intent to murder charge. After Plaintiff was sentenced on the criminal charge, he continued to serve out the balance of the ten-year administrative sanction in the DDU. The district court ruled that two high-ranking prison officials had violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by continuing to confine Plaintiff in the DDU, both as a pretrial detainee and as a sentenced inmate. In connection with these rulings, the court denied the defendants’ claims of qualified immunity and awarded Plaintiff partial money damages and equitable relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. The First Circuit reversed the denial of qualified immunity, reversed the award of money damages against the officials in their individual capacities and vacated all equitable relief, holding that the prison officials did not violate Plaintiff’s clearly established rights. Remanded. View "Ford v. Bender" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of failing to register as a sex offender. The plea agreement contained a waiver of appeal provision, which provided that if the court accepted the agreement and sentenced Defendant according to its terms, Defendant would be waiving and permanently surrendering his right to appeal the judgment and sentence. The court accepted Defendant’s guilty plea, and the district court judge sentenced Defendant to twelve months in prison and ten years supervised release. The judge imposed a number of special sex offender conditions as terms of Defendant’s supervised release. Defendant appealed, seeking to vacate the special sex offender conditions. The First Circuit dismissed in part, vacated in part, and remanded, holding that Defendant waived his right to appeal all of the special sex offender conditions of supervised release save the condition providing that Defendant could not use or possess sexually explicit material or frequent any establishments providing pornography or sexual services, as the condition was not announced at sentencing. View "United States v. Santiago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were inmates in the Massachusetts state prison system who suffer from HIV. Plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections after the Department decided, rather than to provide the inmates with monthly or bimonthly supplies of their HIV medications, to dispense the medication only in single doses at the dispensing window. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court granted summary judgment for the Department on each of Plaintiffs’ claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to produce adequate evidence of any statutory or constitutional violation. View "Nunes v. Umass Corr. Health" on Justia Law

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Officers from the Puerto Rico Police Department stopped a vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger for a traffic infraction. Suspecting that the car may have been stolen, the officers asked the driver to exit the vehicle and open the hood for purposes of inspecting the vehicle identification number on the car’s engine. The driver’s resulting movement revealed a gun tucked into his waistband. Thereafter, the officers ordered Defendant to exit the vehicle and submit to a pat-frisk, which revealed a firearm hidden in Defendant’s waistband. Defendant was subsequently indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the firearm evidence as the fruit of an illegal search. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the officers had an objectively reasonable basis to frisk Defendant. View "United States v. Tiru-Plaza" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Healey and Edward Given, residents of the Massachusetts Treatment Center, were each civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person. Plaintiffs brought separate suits, which were later consolidated, challenging the conditions of their confinement and the adequacy of their sexual offender treatment. Plaintiffs sought equitable relief against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and other state officials (collectively, the DOC). Both plaintiffs alleged violations of the Constitution and state statutory provisions, and Healey alleged that the DOC was not in compliance with the terms of a management plan (Plan) for the Center developed by the DOC during the course of prior litigation. The district court granted Plaintiffs declaratory and injunctive relief on some claims and entered judgment in favor of the DOC on the remaining claims. The First Circuit (1) reversed the declaratory judgment in favor of Healey on his contempt claim as well as injunctive relief compelling the Commonwealth’s compliance with the Plan’s provisions; and (2) affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendants in all respects with the exception of the judgment for Plaintiffs regarding the constitutionality of the pharmacological evaluation and treatment provided by Defendants, as that portion of the judgment was not challenged on appeal. View "Healey v. Dennehy" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial in 1998, Petitioner was convicted iof first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal concerned Petitioner’s petition for habeas relief in which Petitioner sought to invalidate his conviction on the ground that his court-appointed attorney’s failure to interview a certain prosecution witness, Barbara Holbrook, before trial and counsel’s failure to interview or to call at trial several witnesses who allegedly could have rebutted Holbrook’s testimony constituted ineffective assistance. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed on the merits. View "Scoggins v. Hall" on Justia Law