Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant's conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The district court sentenced Defendant to an incarcerate sentence of sixty months, nineteen months above the upper end of the advisory guidelines sentencing range. On appeal, Defendant argued that the sentence (1) was procedurally unreasonable because the district court failed to consider all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, and (2) was substantively unreasonable because it was too harsh. The First Circuit court affirmed, holding (1) there was no clear or obvious error in the sentencing court's explication of the factors that it considered; and (2) Defendant failed to show that the sentencing court abused its discretion in imposing an upwardly variant sentence. View "United States v. Mendez-Baez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant's guilty plea to conspiracy to import a controlled substance and unlawful entry into the United States, holding that the sentence was substantively reasonable. Defendant faced a 120-month mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for his conspiracy to import a controlled substance conviction. The sentencing judge found that Defendant qualified for the safety valve exception to the mandatory minimum sentence but nevertheless imposed a 135-month term of imprisonment to run concurrently with a six month term for the second conviction. Defendant challenged his 135-month sentence on appeal. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the sentence was substantively reasonable and that there were no reasoning errors on the part of the district court. View "United States v. Reyes-Gomez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the imposition of an upwardly variant sentence of thirty-six months' imprisonment following a guilty plea by Defendant to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, holding that the sentence was neither substantively nor procedurally unreasonable. As to Defendant's arguments on appeal regarding procedural reasonableness, the Court held that the district court (1) did not plainly err in considering Defendant's arrests not leading to convictions as a matter leading to an upward variance; (2) adequately considered the 18 U.S.C. ยง 3553(a) factors; and (3) did not plainly err in varying upward from the government's sentencing recommendation. The Court further held that as to Defendant's challenges to substantive reasonableness, Defendant's arguments either failed on waiver or simply failed. View "United States v. Rodriguez-Reyes" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of conviction on an embezzlement count brought against David Tkhilaishvili and otherwise affirmed the judgments of conviction against the three defendants, David and Jambulat Tkhilaishvili, holding that David's conviction for one count of embezzlement was improper. A jury convicted Defendants of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act extortion and other crimes. During the pendency of these appeals the government conceded that David's conviction on one count of embezzlement could not be sustained. The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendants' Hobbs Act extortion convictions; (2) there was no instructional error; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of Defendants' prior violent acts; (4) David's conviction on one embezzlement count must be reversed; and (5) there was sufficient evidence to support David's conviction on the other embezzlement count. View "United States v. Tkhilaishvili" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction based on his guilty plea for production of child pornography, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. After entering his guilty plea, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea, arguing that his counsel, in advising him with respect to the guilty plea, had provided him with ineffective assistance of counsel by not having moved pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to suppress certain evidence. Acknowledging that Defendant would be entitled to withdraw his guilty plea if his counsel had failed to file a meritorious suppression motion, the district court held a hearing. The court denied Defendant's motion, concluding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights had not been violated. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to show that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. View "United States v. Powell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions for various federal carjacking and firearm offenses and the 600-month prison sentence imposed by the district court, holding that Defendant's challenges to the court's evidentiary rulings and to his sentence were unavailing. Defendant was convicted of carjacking, use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, carjacking resulting in sexual assault, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. After a sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to a total of 600 months in prison. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to suppress statements that he had made to FBI agents following his arrest in which he confessed to carjackings and a sexual assault; (2) the district court did not err in refusing to admit a Facebook photo of one of Defendant's friends; and (3) Defendant's prison sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Galindo-Serrano" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea and motions related to his sentencing, holding that the record withstood Defendant's multiple claims of error. Defendant entered a straight guilty plea to forty-eight counts of an indictment charging him with fraud-based crimes. The district court denied Defendant's subsequent motion to withdraw his guilty plea and other sentencing-related motions and sentenced Defendant to 132 months' imprisonment and ordered him to make restitution in the amount of $7,737,486.10. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow Defendant to retract his guilty plea; (2) the district court did not err in applying a two-level enhancement for crimes involving ten or more victims; (3) the district court did not err in calculating the amount of loss attributable to the offenses of conviction; (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to compel production of materials three days before his scheduled sentencing; (5) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for an evidentiary hearing at sentencing; (6) Defendant's due process rights were not violated during sentencing; and (7) there was no plain error in the district court's restitution order. View "United States v. Flete-Garcia" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for postconviction relief, holding that trial counsel's failure to consult with Petitioner about an appeal deprived Petitioner of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. This appeal required the First Circuit to apply the presumption of prejudice set forth in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), in circumstances in which a defense attorney violates his or her duty to consult with a client about an appeal when the defendant reasonably demonstrated that he or she was interested in appealing or when a rational defendant would want to appeal. In the instant case, Petitioner previously executed a plea agreement containing a waiver-of-appeal provision. Petitioner filed a pro se petition to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal. The district court held that Flores-Ortega's presumption of prejudice was inapposite because Petitioner had executed an appeal waiver. The First Circuit reversed, holding that trial counsel did not properly discharge his duty to consult and that counsel's constitutionally deficient performance prejudiced Petitioner by depriving him of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. View "Rojas-Medina v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) acted reasonably in concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Appellant was convicted in state court of first-degree murder. The SJC affirmed Appellant's convictions and found that the evidence was constitutionally sufficient to support the first-degree murder conviction. Appellant later filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a federal district court, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence grounding his murder conviction. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the SJC's rejection of Appellant's sufficiency claim was objectively reasonable. View "Roman v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Appellant's plea of guilty to sex trafficking crimes pursuant to a plea agreement, holding that Appellant's claims on appeal failed. Appellant pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced to 216 months of imprisonment. Appellant appealed, seeking a new sentencing hearing partially on the grounds that the prosecution breached the plea agreement by providing information to Probation and the court regarding victims of sex trafficking who were either covered by counts that were dismissed as part of the plea agreement or who were never included in any counts in the indictment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's breach claim fell within the plain language of the exemption from the appellate waiver in the plea agreement; (2) the government did not breach the plea agreement; and (3) the appellate waiver in the plea agreement barred Appellant's appeal on the issue of inadequate notice regarding victim statements presented at the sentencing hearing. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law