Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s conviction for marriage fraud in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1325(c), which prohibits knowingly entering into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence presented in this case amply supported the district court’s conclusion that Defendant duped his wife into marrying him in order to avoid deportation; and (2) the trier of fact could reasonably have concluded that Defendant harbored no intent to establish a life with his wife and instead married her solely to avoid deportation. View "United States v. Akanni" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of eighty-four months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, imposed in connection with Defendant’s straight guilty plea to conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. On appeal, the First Circuit held (1) at sentencing, the government did not mislead the district court as to one of Defendant’s co-defendants who had pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement; (2) the quantity of cocaine attributable to Defendant was amply supported and unflawed by material error; and (3) Defendant’s argument that district court refused to consider the grand jury testimony cited in Defendant’s sentencing memorandum failed because the district court did consider the information. View "United States v. Flores-Carter" on Justia Law

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Appellant’s challenge to the sufficiency of his prior convictions to serve as Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) predicates failed because no intervening law alters the validity of the First Circuit’s prior decisions concerning ACCA predicate offenses. Appellant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Because Appellant had previously been convicted of at least three qualifying ACCA predicate offenses the Probation Office for the district of Massachusetts determined that he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison under the ACCA. The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s sentence, holding that the district court did not err in relying on Appellant’s previous drug convictions in applying the ACCA sentencing enhancement and properly subjected Appellant to the fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence. View "United States v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and an unspecified amount of oxycodone and using and maintaining a drug-involved premises and Defendant’s sentence of eleven years’ imprisonment. The Court held (1) even if the district court erred in allowing “interpretative testimony” of various wiretapped calls, the admission did not affect Defendant’s substantial rights; (2) the Government presented sufficient evidence to support the conspiracy conviction; (3) the district court did not err in refusing to give Defendant’s proposed “multiple-conspiracy” jury instruction; (4) the Government’s closing statement characterizing the law regarding withdrawal was far from model, but there was no error when the judge gave what was arguably a curative instruction; and (5) even if the district court erred in calculating Defendant’s sentence, any error would be harmless. View "United States v. Belanger" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of drug offenses and failure to appear for arraignment, holding that, contrary to Defendant’s argument on appeal, Defendant’s counsel did not suffer from a conflict of interest arising from violation of attorney-client privilege and a local rule of professional conduct. The Court held that, under the rules set forth in Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 348 (1980), and United States v. Soldevila-Lopez, 17 F.3d 480, 486 (1st Cir. 1994), Defendant failed to show an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected his lawyer’s performance. Further, “any tension in the lawyer’s mind between client loyalty and professional self-preservation” would have been addressed by a stipulation joined by Defendant, and the following colloquy demonstrated that Defendant understood his rights and the consequences of proceeding as he chose to do. View "United States v. Tirado" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit remanded Appellant’s case for resentencing, holding that the district court erred by ordering a twelve-month term of home detention as part of Appellant’s sentence. Appellant was convicted, pursuant to a plea agreement, and sentenced on drug and firearms charges. On appeal, Appellant argued, among other things, that the district court improperly ordered a twelve-month term of home detention on the drug count, to be served after his mandatory minimum five-year term of imprisonment on the firearms count. The First Circuit agreed, holding (1) the appellate waiver provision in Appellant’s plea agreement may not be construed to bar his challenge to his term of home confinement where the term was twice as long as the high end of the applicable imprisonment range and the parties had recommended a sentence at the low end of the range; and (2) the twelve-month term of home confinement was an unjustified variance from the applicable guidelines range of zero-to-six months’ imprisonment. View "United States v. Lopez-Pastrana" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed following the revocation of Defendant’s supervised release term, holding that Defendant’s claims of sentencing error were unavailing. Defendant admitted to violating his supervised release conditions. The district court imposed a term of two years’ incarceration, to be followed by an additional thirty-four months of supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the notification requirement of Fed. R. Crim. P. 32(h) did not obligate the district court to provide him advance notice of its intention to impose a sentence above the peak of the guideline range; (2) the district court did not err either in its treatment of the relevant sentencing factors or in its choice to give heavy weight to the gravity of the violations committed by Defendant; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Daoust" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of arson, wire fraud, and the use of fire in furtherance of a federal felony, holding that any alleged errors during trial were, whether individually or collectively, harmless. On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecution violated his Confrontation Clause rights when an investigator testified that the cause of the fire was incendiary, rather than electrical, because the investigator relied on conclusions drawn by Defendant’s insurer’s electrical expert without calling that expert to the stand. Defendant also argued that this was a violation of Fed. R. Evid. 703. The First Circuit held (1) any such violation, if one occurred at all, of Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) any error under Fed. R. Evid. 703 was harmless. View "United States v. Saad" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant, who pled guilty to a charge of illegal possession of a machine gun, to thirty months in prison to be followed by supervisory release, with the condition that, for the first year, Defendant would be subject to electronic monitoring and curfew restrictions. The Court held (1) the district court properly imposed a stolen weapon enhancement; (2) Defendant’s sentence was reasonable; and (3) the imposed conditions as to curfew and monitoring were not an abuse of the district court’s discretion. View "United States v. Pinet-Fuentes" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that probable cause existed for the arrest of Appellant and refusing to suppress evidence seized during a warrant-back search of Appellant’s hotel room, despite the officers’ earlier unlawful entry into that room. The Court held (1) the district court did not err in determining that Appellant’s de facto arrest comported with the strictures of the Fourth Amendment; and (2) the district court did not err in applying the independent source doctrine to validate the warrant-backed search of Appellant’s hotel room, thus permitting the government to use the evidence obtained as a result of that search, notwithstanding the earlier warrantless entry into that room. View "United States v. Flores" on Justia Law