U.S. First Circuit: November 2011 Archives
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November 2011 Archives

Calendar Condemns Petitioner in Confrontation Clause Challenge

Today we're taking a closer look at a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision reviewing a grey area of the law: expert witness testimony and the Confrontation Clause.

George Nardi was convicted of first-degree murder in a Massachusetts state trial court for killing his mother. Evidence indicated that she died of suffocation consistent with a hand being pressed over her face and nose.

Dr. James Weiner performed an autopsy on the mother's body, and recorded his findings in an autopsy report. The report noted bruising on her face consistent with suffocation, as well as signs of limited heart disease.

Avoid Attorney Sanctions: Show Up for Your Hearing

First Circuit Court of Appeals attorneys: You have to show up for your hearings. It seems obvious because it's hard to bill when you're noticeably absent, but there's a bigger issue than just meeting your billable hours.

What, you may wonder, could ever trump billables in an attorney's heart? Try a healthy fear of fines.

Attorney sanctions are no laughing matter. They look bad on your record, they're proof of judicial ire, and they could land you in a post like this.

Denied: Sal DiMasi to Report to Jail Nov. 30

Convicted former-Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi can’t wait out an appeal of his federal corruption conviction in the comfort of his home.

This morning, the First Circuit Court of Appeals released a brief opinion denying the disgraced politician’s request to defer his eight-year prison sentence until his appeals were exhausted, finding, “the appeals do not present a ‘substantial question of law or fact’” that would result in a reversal, a new trial, or a lesser sentence, reports The Boston Globe.

Attorney Admission Fee Increase Comments Accepted until Nov. 21

The more things change, the more it costs to practice law in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Judicial Conference approved amendments to the Court of Appeals Miscellaneous Fee Schedule in September. Those amendments included a nationwide increase in the attorney admission fee from $150 to $176. The new fee is in addition to the $50.00 local admission fee set by Local Rule 46.0(a)(1), bringing your attorney admission fee grand total to $226.

If you’re unhappy about this change, there is an outlet for your discontent. The First Circuit Court of Appeals is accepting comments about the proposed fee increase until November 21, 2011.

Mass. AG Martha Coakley Files DOMA Challenge Brief

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is asking the First Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a 2010 district court finding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

DOMA, which defines a marriage as limited to a husband and wife, was enacted in 1996. Until DOMA, state marriage determinations controlled for purposes of all federal laws and programs.

Expert Witness Testimony Not Limited to Expert Report Content

The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the scope of expert witness testimony is not narrowly tailored to the content in a pre-trial expert report.

Frank Gay is the executor of his sister's estate. His sister, Anita, died after a slip and fall accident at a casino. Hospital records listed Anita's death as an accident, and stated that she died as the result of a nonsurvivable closed head injury that caused extensive bleeding in her brain.

The autopsy found that Anita had suffered a "fractured skull with subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage following acute cerebral hemorrhage." The autopsy report stated that Anita's manner of death was an "accident," from having "collapsed at race track."

First Circuit Says Grand Jury Can Subpoena Documents from Lawyer

Tom Wolfe famously quoted Judge Sol Wachtler's opinion that a grand jury would "indict a ham sandwich" in The Bonfire of the Vanities. The relative ease of grand jury indictments could be attributed to the fact that very little evidence is safe from a grand jury subpoena.

But can a grand jury subpoena records from an investigation subject's lawyer?

The answer, according the First Circuit Court of Appeals, depends on the nature of the requested records.