U.S. First Circuit

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


Sometimes you just need to switch it up, whether you're getting a new pair of sneaks or ending a 28 year long business arrangement. In 2013, Nike, the massive shoe and apparel company, decided it was time to make a change when its retailers severed the relationship with Carter's of New Bedford, a tiny, family-owned Massachusetts retailer. Carter's wasn't about to let Nike get away, however.

Carter's, alleging that Nike was turning its back on small businesses, sued the shoe company for breach of contract in Massachusetts court. Unfortunately for Carter's, Nike removed the case to federal court and had it dismissed. The issue? Nike's invoices contained a forum selection clause, limiting contract disputes to courts in Oregon, Nike's home state.

After Blessing Iwuala received his master's degree in business administration in Nigeria, he put his learning to use opening a medical supply company. When Iwuala teamed up with John Nasky, who ran a medical billing business, the two used Iwuala's company to circumvent Nasky's pervious ban from Medicare payments. Soon, Medicare payments for durable medical equipment left Iwuala "awash in a flood of easy money."

That arrangement netted Iwuala quick cash with little work, but it also landed him in jail when Nasky's fraudulent billing was revealed. Iwuala was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, despite his claims that he was an innocent dupe. On appeal, the First Circuit upheld his conviction in full.

"Alien reporting requirements" -- a terrifying phrase for immigrants in the U.S. The phrase becomes particularly ominous given the fact that it was completely misinterpreted by an immigration court in Alan Soares Renaut v. Loretta E. Lynch.

How is that possible, you ask? Aren't the reporting requirements simple enough?

Here's the requirement at issue: as an alien in the U.S., you're required to give the government a valid mailing address. If your address changes, you must inform the government of that change.

The parents of a young boy injured during birth lost their appeal to the First Circuit last Friday, largely due to lack of evidence to support their claims.

When F.A.F.R. was born, his shoulders failed to deliver after his head emerged, resulting in Erb's Palsy, which causes weakness and loss of motion in the arms. His parents sued in federal court in Puerto Rico and the jury found that both the delivering doctor, Dr. Capre-Febus, and the hospital, Dorado Health, had been negligent, yet only the doctor's negligence had caused F.A.F.R.'s injuries.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death

Did you really think it was going to end differently? After weeks of testimony in the sentencing phase of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the same federal jury that found him guilty April 30 sentenced him to death Friday for the bombing that killed three, and injured more than 240 others.

The jury reached a verdict after deliberating for only 14 hours -- just three hours more than it took them to find him guilty of all 30 counts with which he was charged.

1st Cir. Upholds Conviction of Man Who Killed Informant

In 2004, Madelin Semidey-Morales was dating Edison Burgos-Montes while Semidey's husband was in prison. She agreed to work with the DEA to inform on Burgos, who was a drug dealer. She recorded conversations and arranged purchases for cocaine with DEA agents.

A year or so later, one of Burgos' employees told him that Semidey was a government informant. After that, Semidey mysteriously disappeared. Her body was never found.

The First Circuit, in an opinion by former Supreme Court Justice Souter, upheld a Massachusetts police officer's excessive force conviction stemming from an assault on an arrestee. Shawn Coughlin, a cop in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- yes, the Plymouth of Plymouth Rock fame -- was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after beating a handcuffed arrestee in a holding cell and falsifying records to impede the federal investigation.

On appeal, Coughlin claimed that there was insufficient evidence that his actions, striking the arrestee in the head and kneeing him in the torso, resulted in bodily injury. Not so, said the First Circuit. If it looks like a beating and sounds like a beating, it probably feels like one too -- and that's enough for a jury to decided that there was bodily injury.

Maine Man Gets 14 1/2 Years for Child Pornography

Another day, another child pornography appeal. This time, Timothy Majeroni is appealing a 2012 conviction for child pornography, which occurred when he was already on supervised release for a previous conviction for -- wait for it -- child pornography.

Majeroni tried to throw everything he could at the wall, but nothing was going to stick. That's how these cases go sometimes.

Penalties for Abuse of IRS Preservation Deduction Upheld

Getting "creative" with your tax returns can cost you, as Gordon and Lorna Kaufman found out last week when the First Circuit affirmed penalties against them for an "historic preservation easement" that had no value.

After Lorna bought a $1 million house in Boston, the Kaufmans learned about a "tax incentive program" for houses in the historic preservation district where the house resided. The program allows tax deductions for the value of an historic easement. Tax deductions? Hmm ...

It was a drug smuggling conspiracy straight out of a pulp novel -- or telenovella. For two years, Manuel "El Boss" Santana-Cabrera sent drug couriers on flights from San Juan to Philadelphia and New York. The couriers would check in with regular luggage, which airport workers would swap out with cocaine-packed suitcases to be handed off to a taxi driver upon arrival.

Eventually, the DEA caught wind, one smuggler turned on another, and bit-players Jorge Correa-Osorio and Denise Shephard-Fraser were arrested. In a dramatic in-court identification, Correa was outed as "El Don," responsible for smuggling the drugs into the airport. It was a scene, he argued on appeal, that was unduly suggestive and violated his due process rights.