Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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After a jury trial, Defendants Abraham Walker-Couvertier (Walker) and Dean Lugo-Diaz (Lugo) were found guilty of numerous drug-related crimes. The trial court sentenced Walker to concurrent 192-month terms of immurement on the drug counts and a consecutive sixty-month term of immurement on a firearms count. The court sentenced Lugo to concurrent 121-month terms of immurement on the various counts of conviction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants’ belated challenge to the requirement, as applied in the District of Puerto Rico, that jurors be proficient in English failed; (2) Walker’s challenge to the propriety of a traffic stop was not preserved for appellate review; (3) contrary to Defendants’ arguments, several statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument were not prejudicial; (4) there was no plain error in the challenged jury instructions; (5) the evidence was sufficient to support Lugo’s conspiracy conviction; and (6) Defendants’ claims of sentencing error were unavailing. View "United States v. Walker-Couvertier" on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a straight guilty plea to possession of a machine gun. The district court sentenced Defendant to thirty-three months’ imprisonment in accordance with the government’s recommendation. Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that his thirty-three-month sentence was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. In support of his claim that his sentence was procedurally unreasonable, Defendant made several arguments. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s claims of procedural error failed, and his sentence was not procedurally unreasonable; and (2) under the circumstances of this case, imposition of a thirty-three-month sentence was not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Gonzalez-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Nigerian citizen by birth, pleaded guilty to making a material false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States government. Because of his conviction, Petitioner was permanently barred from obtaining lawful permanent resident status and was subject to deportation at any moment. Nearly a decade after his probationary sentence ended, Petitioner sought a writ of error coram nobis that vacates or allows him to revise the factual basis of his conviction. As grounds for the writ, Petitioner alleged that the performance of his attorney was constitutionally deficient under Sixth Amendment standards, and therefore, his conviction arose from fundamental error. The district court denied a writ of error coram nobis. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s counsel was not constitutionally ineffective in any way. View "Williams v. United States" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than 1,000 grams of marijuana, among other charges. Defendant moved to suppress evidence taken from a warrantless search of his truck. The district judge denied the motion. Defendant later conditionally pled guilty, reserving his right to challenge the denial of his suppression motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the questioning of Defendant was within the permissible scope of a traffic stop, and the questions did not impermissibly extend the duration of the stop; (2) the initial search of the truck was permissible in light of Defendant’s voluntary consent; (3) the continuation of the search after Defendant withdrew his consent was permissible because probable cause existed; and (4) there were no constitutional violations during the traffic stop. View "United States v. Dion" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the convictions of brothers Stanley Gonsalves and Joshua Gonsalves, who were convicted on multiple counts arising from their operation of an oxycodone-trafficking ring. The court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Joshua’s motion to suppress the evidence seized the night of his February 2012 arrest; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Joshua’s and Stanley’s motions for a mistrial; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Stanley’s convictions; and (4) Stanley’s sentence was procedurally reasonable because any error in calculating his Guidelines sentencing range did not impact his substantial rights. View "United States v. Gonsalves" on Justia Law