Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence for violating the terms of his supervised release and remanded the matter for resentencing, holding that the judge erred in citing rehabilitation needs and unproven domestic-violence allegations, and the errors were presumptively prejudicial. Defendant was sentenced to 168 months in prison in connection with his conviction of conspiracy to distribute cocaine followed by five years of supervised release. After Defendant began supervised release, the government filed a motion to revoke Defendant’s supervised release. Defendant admitted that he violated the terms of his release, and the district court imposed an upward variance, sentencing Defendant to two years’ imprisonment plus two years of supervised release. The First Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded the matter for resentencing, holding (1) the district court likely did rely on rehabilitation in fixing the sentence in a way that is at odds with the Sentencing Reform Act; and (2) the unproven domestic-violence charges are not to be considered upon resentencing. View "United States v. Vazquez-Mendez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity for which Defendant could be charged with sexual assault under the laws of Puerto Rico, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and that Defendant could not prevail on his challenges to the jury instructions. At issue on appeal was whether Defendant could be charged with sexual assault under Puerto Rico law when the person he tried to entice was an adult federal agent posing as a minor. The First Circuit held (1) because Defendant was clearly attempting to have sex with a child, he was plainly violating Puerto Rico law; and (2) Defendant’s challenges to the jury instructions failed. View "United States v. Saldana-Rivera" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s action on the grounds that the lawsuit was, in essence, an appeal from a state-court judgment, and therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, holding that the district court correctly held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s claims. This appeal arose from Plaintiff’s legal challenge seeking to void two Massachusetts Superior Court conditions of probation imposed on the adult male who was convicted of statutory rape after impregnating Plaintiff when she was a minor. One of those conditions ordered the defendant to acknowledge paternity of the child. The district court decided that it did not have jurisdiction over the claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because the relief Plaintiff sought was based on her claim that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court erred in the adjudication of her case, the district court properly dismissed this case for want of jurisdiction. View "Tyler v. Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s pretrial dismissal of four charges of violations of the National Firearms Act (NFA), 26 U.S.C. 5801 et seq. brought against Defendant, reinstated those counts, and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that the result reached by the district court was contrary to the complete text and context of the NFA and not what Congress intended. The charges against Defendant arose from Defendant’s act of purchasing four military M67 fragmentation grenades from an FBI agent during an undercover sting operation. Before the sale, the FBI had replaced each grenade’s original, operable fuze with an inoperable one. The district court concluded that because the operable fuzes had been replaced with inoperable fuzes, the grenades were not “explosive grenades” under the NFA. The First Circuit reversed, holding that, based on the admitted facts, statutory context, and Congress’s intent in enacting the “explosive grenade” provision of the NFA, each grenade as purchased by Defendant was an “explosive grenade” under the NFA. View "United States v. Musso" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence and remanded this matter for resentencing, holding that no weight should be given in sentencing to arrests listed in the presentence report (PSR) that did not result in convictions or were not buttressed by independent proof of conduct. Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a firearm while prohibited from doing so because of a prior felony conviction and his fugitive status. The district court imposed a variant sentence of seventy-two months. On appeal, Defendant challenged the judge’s possible reliance on arrests not resulting in convictions in his upward variance. The First Circuit vacated the sentence, holding that Defendant made a strong enough case that the sentencing judge relied on such arrests in determining his sentence and remand was required. View "United States v. Marrero-Perez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence imposed in connection with his plea of guilty to possessing a firearm despite his status as a felon, holding that Defendant’s prior Puerto-Rico law conviction was not a “controlled substance offense” for federal-sentencing purposes. After concluding that Defendant’s prior Puerto-Rico law conviction amounted to a “controlled substance offense” under the guidelines, the court increased Defendant’s base offense level and sentenced him to thirty-four months in prison. The First Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that the government in this case failed to meet its burden of showing precisely what Defendant pled to with regard to his Puerto Rico drug offense, which required the Court to vacate his sentence and remand for resentencing. View "United States v. Martinez-Benitez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court’s order granting Appellants’ motion to intervene in an ongoing criminal trial but otherwise denying in substantial part Appellants’ motion to unseal requested information regarding the names and addresses of the jurors in the criminal case as soon as possible after the jury’s verdict, holding that precedent requires post-verdict disclosure of juror names and addresses. Appellants were the owners of WBUR, a public radio station in Boston, Massachusetts. A week before trial ended, WBUR filed its motion both to intervene in the criminal case and to obtain information disclosing, post-verdict, juror names and addresses. The district court issued an order allowing intervention but denying WBUR’s motion regarding the disclosure of juror names and addresses. The First Circuit held that In re Globe Newspaper Co., 920 F.2d 88 (1st Cir. 1990), holds that, absent a district court having made the requisite particularized findings to justify either nondisclosure or a delay in disclosure, juror addresses may not be withheld post-verdict and that the disclosure of the requested juror information may not be delayed until after sentencing. View "United States v. Chin" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the convictions of Defendants Juan Bravo-Fernandez and Hector Martinez-Maldonado (Martinez) for federal program bribery, holding that the government did not meet its burden of establishing that the entity Martinez represented as an agent received at least $10,000 in federal “benefits” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 666. In this appeal, the third time this case was before the First Circuit, Defendants argued that evidence stipulated to early in the proceedings was insufficient to convict them of federal program bribery because the government did not introduce evidence sufficient to satisfy the jurisdictional element under section 666(b) that the government entity received “benefits in excess of $10,00 under a Federal program.” The First Circuit agreed, holding that the government failed to meet its burden of establishing that the entity Martinez represented as an agent received the amount of benefits required under section 666(b). View "United States v. Bravo-Fernandez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court sentencing Defendant to forty-six months’ imprisonment in connection with Defendant’s plea of guilty to a charge of possessing a machine gun, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally flawed nor substantively unreasonable. Defendant’s guilty plea placed him in a federal guideline sentencing range (GSR) of twenty-four to thirty months’ imprisonment. After considering the facts of Defendant’s offense as well as other sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), the district court determined that a sentence above the GSR was appropriate and sentenced Defendant to forty-six months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the forty-six-month variant incarceration was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Contreras-Delgado" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant’s conviction of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, holding that the sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Defendant received a guideline sentence of forty-six months of imprisonment for his conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court abused its discretion by applying a six-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2S1.1(b)(1) when it was not proven that he knew his crime involved drug trafficking proceeds. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was ample evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant knew that laundered funds were drug-trafficking proceeds; and (2) Defendant’s sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Calderon-Lozano" on Justia Law