U.S. First Circuit

U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog


Michelle Kosilek, born as Robert, is a transgender individual who identifies as female and who wishes for her physical sex to match her gender. The problem is, she murdered her wife in 1990.

The Massachusetts Department of Correction does not wish to pay for sexual reassignment surgery. Kosilek argues that not doing so amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. She has twice previously attempted suicide and self-castration (all while awaiting trial for murder) and lesser treatments (hormones and psychotherapy) have not relieved her mental anguish over her gender identity disorder.

In 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ordered the state to pay for the surgery. Earlier this year, a split First Circuit panel upheld that decision, 2-1. But today, an en banc court reversed in an opinion penned by the original panel's dissenter, while the two majority judges from the prior panel decision penned dissents.

Scott Lively has traveled the world speaking up against the "gay agenda." He has given speeches everywhere from Oregon, to Moscow, to Kampala. But it was his speeches in Uganda that had the greatest impact.

After giving a series of lectures on how homosexuals supposedly prey on children, Ugandan officials passed an extremely harsh anti-gay law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison in some instances (earlier drafts included death as a penalty). After the bill was passed, waves of vigilante violence swept the country against suspected gay individuals.

Now, he'll face a crimes-against-humanity lawsuit over his contribution to the fervor after the First Circuit denied his request for a writ of mandamus to dismiss the lawsuit, reports The Republican.

When Joca-Roca Real Estate and Robert Brennan entered into a contract back in 2005, the contract contained an arbitration clause. No biggie: Arbitration clauses are everywhere, especially now that we know they trump state contract law in some important ways.

But what else do they trump? Do they trump the common law doctrine of waiver? No, they don't, said the First Circuit Court of Appeal in a case decided Monday.

In response to a series of violent crimes, Puerto Rico enacted a law allowing municipalities to erect gates enclosing public streets. The gates were manned by security guards, and those that weren't staffed by humans required a resident key to enter.

So, who's claiming that these gates infringe on their right to evangelize door-to-door? Drum roll, please ... it's Jehovah's Witnesses!

The case of alleged Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev continues to reach its scheduled fever pitch on January 5, when the federal trial against him is set to commence.

On December 18, Tsarnaev will appear live, in court, for the first time since he was arraigned last July, reports The Boston Herald. The December 18 hearing marks the final pre-trial conference. But that's not all that's happening. Here's an update on Tsarnaev's legal saga:

Does a person have standing to claim a product defect because of an increased risk of harm from a product's vulnerability to lightning strikes?

Maybe. The First Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that such scenario could give rise to standing, but in the case of Tim Kerin and his lawsuit against the Titeflex Corporation, the court said that, regardless, Kerin hadn't met his burden of alleging sufficient facts to show probable future injury.

After 35 hours of deliberations, a jury has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of two counts of lying to federal officers. According to prosecutors, Robel Phillipos lied about going to Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts three days after the bombings, on April 18, 2013.

In reality, Phillipos and two other friends helped Tsarnaev dispose of a laptop and a backpack full of empty fireworks canisters after the bombing.

It's not all sunshine, smiles, and drinks with little umbrellas in them in Puerto Rico today. Yesterday, a federal district judge upheld the territory's ban on same-sex marriage, placing Puerto Rico in threadbare company with Louisiana as the only two jurisdictions whose federal courts upheld a state or territorial same-sex marriage ban.

Unlike the Louisiana court, however, Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez dismissed on "procedural" grounds.

If there's one thing I think of when I think of the First Circuit, it's the judges' unique writing styles. We've spent a lot of ink praising the unique stylings of Senior Judge Bruce Selya, but he's not the only person whose opinions stand out -- his successor, Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, really deserves a shout-out as well.

Take today's opinion for instance. She starts with this:

Foster Starks, Jr. was not having a good day. First, he learned that his son had been arrested, then he was tasked with the unenviable job of retrieving a rental car from the son's irate girlfriend. Lastly, as he was nearing home that night, he saw a State Trooper's blue lights reflected in the rental's rearview mirror. So one could say that the cherry on the cake of Starks's day was the Trooper's discovery of the bag on the seat beside him -- containing, as it did, a gun and two boxes of ammunition.

It's great storytelling, and the ending ought to brighten Starks' otherwise bad streak of luck.

Ever since City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed cities to zone out of existence businesses it didn't like, as long as the city was nominally zoning based on "secondary effects" and not targeting a particular kind of expression. In Renton, it was -- and this gives you an idea how old the case is -- an "adult" theater.

From the First Circuit, Showtime Entertainment v. Town of Mendon takes us back to that old "secondary effects" doctrine and just how far it can go.