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

June 2013 Archives

$675k For Illegal Downloading Not Excessive: 1st Circuit

Is it a violation of due process when a jury issues a judgment against you for more than half a million dollars, all for illegally downloading thirty songs?

This is the question Joel Tenenbaum put before the First Circuit, but his hopes were dashed when the Court affirmed that this monetary award was not excessive in light of his conduct in its Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum decision on Tuesday.

Illegal downloaders beware, the Tenenbaum Court has some scolding words for those who take advantage of the Internet's bevy of pirated music.

SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Case

The Supreme Court accepted certiorari in McCullen et al. v. Coakley et al. on Monday, a case that again raises the issue of whether the Massachusetts abortion clinic “buffer zone” law is legal.

The appeal of the First Circuit decision in McCullen was brought by the plaintiffs, seven persons who claim that the Massachusetts law prevents their First Amendment freedoms in restricting their anti-abortion counseling around the clinic, reports The Boston Globe.

The circuit court affirmed this controversial law despite First Amendment concerns, holding that the law was narrowly tailored enough.

Whitey Bulger Moves to Exclude Photographs of Victims, Denied

Alleged murder and mob boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger may be on alert to exclude photographs from evidence after prosecutors shocked jurors in June by giving them a slideshow of Bulger’s 19 alleged victims.

The prosecutors argued that Bulger was a “hands-on killer” while showing photographs of the 17 men and two women that Bulger is accused of killing, reports ABC News.

In response to other photographs of victims being admitted into evidence, Bulger filed a motion to exclude on Tuesday, one that was denied by Judge Casper on Wednesday.

Show Him the Money: Standing to Challenge Forfeiture of Drug Cash

In a very strange claim, a pilot of a drug boat that sought to evade the U.S. Coast guard is appealing the forfeiture of over $8 million in cash that was thrown overboard as he and his companions were fleeing capture.

Petitioner Robert Hovito Von Bommel Duyzing (Van Bommel), a now-deported Columbian national, appealed to the First Circuit after his claim of standing for money that was seized by law enforcement following his arrest was denied.

This raises the question: do criminals have standing to ask for their ill gotten gains?

Opening Statements Begin in 'Whitey' Bulger Trial

The James “Whitey” Bulger trial proceeded on Wednesday with opening statements from the prosecution and Bulger’s attorney, J. W. Carney Jr., including two varied accounts of the reputed mobster’s life and criminal career.

Bulger’s attorney made a case that the infamous Bostonian could not have been an informant because that would be “the worst thing an Irish Person could consider doing,” reports The New York Times.

Despite the early stages of the trial, both sides have managed to get into legal spats about these opening statements.

Court Releases Only Some BC Interviews from 'Belfast Project'

In a decision penned in late May, the First Circuit ordered the release of a limited amount of interviews from the "Belfast Project" to the British authorities.

The "Belfast Project" is a Boston College compilation of personal interviews and testimonials from former Irish Republican Army members, and in 2011 the British government successfully subpoenaed BC for 85 of those taped interviews and transcripts for a criminal investigation.

The Court only released 11 of the interviews, in an interesting conflict of United States-United Kingdom treaty and academic integrity.

'Whitey' Bulger Move to Exclude Reporters: Names As Witnesses

James "Whitey" Bulger may have ulterior motive in naming reporters who have covered his criminal career as defense witnesses, barring them from reporting on his case.

The infamous Bostonian gangster moved to exclude Boston Globe reporter Shelley Murphy and columnist Kevin Cullen from covering his case because Bulger might call the two as defense witnesses, reports Boston.com.

Will the court allow Bulger to sequester members of the media by naming them as witnesses?

'Whitey' Bulger Trial Begins Jury Selection

The trial of the infamous James "Whitey" Bulger began with jury selection in Boston federal court on Tuesday, with both the prosecution and defense choosing jurors from a pool of 675 people.

Bulger's legendary status as a Boston mobster and crime boss will play a huge role in voir dire, asjurors are chosen to hear charges based on Bulger's decades of alleged killings and other misdeeds, reports USA Today.

What will the prosecution and defense focus on to ensure a proper jury for the infamous 83-year-old?