U.S. First Circuit

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


When Anthony Soto-Rivera was arrested, he was in possession of a machine gun. Unfortunately for him, Soto-Rivera was also a felon, making his possession of any firearm, not to mention a machine gun, illegal. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced as a career criminal, under the assumption that being a felon in possession of a firearm is a "crime of violence" for federal career offender sentencing enhancements.

Not so, the First Circuit ruled last Friday. Given the Supreme Court's recent invalidation of the unconstitutionally vague "residual clause" in the Armed Career Criminal Act, the similar language in the federal sentencing guidelines must too fall, meaning the mere possession of a firearm cannot be seen as a crime of violence, the First Circuit found.

Social Worker Gets Validated in Maine Whistleblower Suit

A Maine Social Worker got an earlier Summary Judgment against her vacated by the First Circuit's Court of Appeals because of an understandable but erroneous reading of a key case.

We ask you: if your work is "excellent" and "very [good]," but you're fired soon after you blow the whistle -- is there a casual connection between your finking and your firing? A reasonable mind could probably agree there is.

'Crime-Fraud' Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege Gets Expanded

The Appeals Court for the First Circuit affirmed a lower district court's decision on the production of allegedly privileged documentation, quite possibly expanding the exception to swallow the rule.

For attorneys, this is a good chance to check up on your privileges.

Medical Battery Claim Dismissed by 1st Circuit

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a battery claim against a doctor who allegedly failed to properly inform his patient of the attendant risks of a surgical procedure.

The case of Bradley v. Sugarbaker has a number of legal issues within it, but we'll focus on the plaintiff's theory of battery against the operating doctor.

Asian Advocacy Group May Not Intervene in 'Fisher' Case, 1st Cir. Rules

The affirmative action hot-potato case of Fisher v. University of Texas is back in SCOTUS and already causing people to froth at the mouth. Justice Antonin Scalia kicked off public gasps with a question that suggested that black and Hispanic students might perform better at less competitive schools. His comments would result in massive response from minority students who wished to intervene in a challenge to Harvard's race-based admissions practices. Well, the First Circuit has ruled that this appearance may not move forward.

Now that this most critical of affirmative action cases is back in the nation's highest court, can the public expect any consistency as to the constitutional place race should or ought to play in college admissions?

Exclusionary Rule Exceptions Alive and Well in 1st Cir

Not all fruit that falls from a "poisoned" tree is without use, a recent First Circuit case reminds us. The First Circuit rejected Marcia Garcia-Aguilar's petition for review and affirmed the Bureau of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) and an Immigration Judge's finding that use of her birth certificate in establishing her alienage was not a violation of her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search.

Garcia's case is a gentle reminder that the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine is not an absolute bar to evidence that may have been improperly obtained.

SCOTUS Rejects 1st Cir. Planned Parenthood Case

SCOTUS decided to let stand a First Circuit decision to shield Planned Parenthood documents from an anti-abortion group. Customarily, SCOTUS did not give any reasoning for its decision.

Conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia both dissented. They stated that confusion in the lower courts over the federal Freedom of Information Act should get SCOTUS review.

1st Circuit Rules Against Ex-Gun Owners in Gov't Fee Levying Case

The case of Jarvis v. Village Vault was decided by the First Circuit last week in favor of the Massachusetts business, Village Vault.

The legal issue revolves around how much government entanglement is needed in order to turn a seemingly private entity into an arm of the government thereby triggering due process concerns.

1st Circuit Court Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against Newsletter

The trouble began when Pan Am Railway Co. together with its former president, David Fink, sued Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports in U.S. District Court in 2011. In Fink's complaint, he alleged that ANRP damaged his company by distributing defamatory articles via electronic and email newsletters.

Defendant Chalmers Hardenbergh responded with the legal equivalent of "so what?" and "don't shoot the messenger."

'Good Cause' Standard Not Needed to Amend Complaints

It's always nice when a panel of judges rule unanimously on a particular issue -- thereby creating the much sought after "bright-line" rule.

The three-judge panel of the First Circuit ruled that Massachusetts Judge Richard Stearns erred in applying the "good cause" standard when purported whistleblower, Jeffrey D'Agostino, sought to amend his complaint for a fourth time. D'Asostino, now an ex-sales rep for Covidien's vascular business, lost this job when Covidien fired him for blowing the cover to the feds on a kickback scheme.