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

July 2014 Archives

Robert George was a criminal lawyer turned criminal lawyer. At a Dunkin' Donuts one day (this was Boston, after all), he happened to run into an ex-felon whom he once represented, Ronald Dardinski. Dardinski had gone to prison after pleading guilty in a scam in which he "sold" repossessed cars that weren't his, then kept $750,000 from unwitting victims.

George had initially represented Dardinski, but Dardinski found a different lawyer. George casually asked what happened with the money. Dardinski replied that he had "a bunch of it hidden." Then George -- a lawyer, mind you -- offered to launder the money for him. Dardinski agreed, and then contacted a DEA agent for whom he had been an informant in the past. George started laundering the money, Dardinski recorded all their conversations, yadda yadda yadda, and now George is in federal prison for money laundering and conspiracy.

George appealed his conviction to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction in a very entertaining opinion.

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Class Action for Cable-TV Outage During Storm Can Proceed

Residents of Massachusetts might remember that in October 2011, a surprise "nor'easter" swept across New England, downing power lines, closing roads, and -- most importantly -- depriving cable customers of "Sopranos" reruns. A scant month later, four plaintiffs filed a suit in state court against Charter Communications, their cable company, because their cable service was down for nine days.

Charter removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, then moved to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs' case was moot, as they had already received a credit on their bill for the time the service was down. The district court granted Charter's motion to dismiss.

Last week, in Cooper v. Charter Communications, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed class certification, but reversed the district court's motion to dismiss.

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The trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, better known as one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends, began earlier this month, and a mere two weeks later, the jury has deliberated and found him guilty.

Let's take a closer look at the details surround the criminal trial.

Rolando Rojas was convicted of distributing cocaine, in violation of federal law, to undercover agent Wing Chau, on three different occasions from January 2011 to March 2011. During the course of the investigation, some of the phone calls were recorded, and meetings were video/audio recorded.

Though the prosecution seemed to have enough evidence for a conviction, it made two errors during closing arguments that could affect the outcome of the trial. Did the First Circuit think so? Let's see.

By now, you know the drill when it comes to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother accused of orchestrating the Boston Marathon bombings. In the past year, the prosecution has been building its case alleging 30 charges against Tsarnaev, some of which may carry the death penalty.

Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled for November 3, 2014, but today, the first case against one of Tsarnaev's friends -- Azamat Tazhayakov began. Here's a brief review of today's court proceedings.