Civil Rights Law News - U.S. First Circuit
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In Massachusetts, sexually dangerous persons (SDPs), sex offenders who have been ordered to civil commitment, reside in the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. In 1974, following lawsuits alleging "medieval" conditions at the Center, a district count entered consent decrees ordering the Center to shape up. In 1999, the district court concluded that the problems had been remedied and terminated the consent decrees, but still made the Center subject to a settlement plan.

In 2001, Jeffrey Healey brought suit to enforce the provisions of the plan and to allege constitutional violations. After more litigation and two trials, the district court found that it had breached the terms of the plan by failing to provide "adequate pharmacological evaluation and treatment." This appeal followed, where the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) wanted the determination in Healey's favor reversed, along with a determination that the settlement plan wasn't an enforceable order.

Slocking. It's nothing new. Rappers Kool G and Tupac referenced padlocks in socks years ago. And if softcore adult films on Netflix are your cultural reference points of choice, [spoiler alert] Red got slocked by Vee in the penultimate episode of the second season of "Orange is the New Black."

Take a prison-issued padlock. Put it in a sock. Beat your fellow prisoners. It's ingenious and not altogether unheard of. And that's these two prisoners' point: Why are prisons still handing out padlocks? The two slocking victims argue that ignoring the obvious problem is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.

A little more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts abortion buffer-zone law, Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick signed a new law limiting protests outside of abortion clinics.

No sooner than the law was signed, opponents and Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley spoke out against it.

Here's what you need to know about the new law, and what lawmakers have to say about it:

This week we examine a duo of First Amendment cases. The first garnered national media attention last week as the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts "buffer zone" law. The other case, though less widely known, also addresses the First Amendment.

Read on to learn more about the opinions.

It seems the federal judiciary has a case of summeritis, as we're not seeing that many ground- breaking cases being decided lately. We'll blame it on the snowy winter.

That said, there are new developments in the traffic stop video taping case, and the First Circuit breathed new life into quid pro quo sexual harassment. And while those cases were decided, we're still waiting to see how the court will rule on an extradition case.

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In 2011, the First Circuit held that "a citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment," in Glik v. Cunniffe. However, the court noted that the right was not unqualified.

Last month, the First Circuit had a similar case before it, but instead of a citizen filming an arrest in a public square, a citizen filmed a traffic stop. The question before the First Circuit was whether the First Amendment right applies to traffic stops.

The First Circuit is bustling with high profile cases right now, many of which are stirring up a bit of controversy. First, there's some question as to whether David Barron will get confirmed -- some say if he were, there would be a "war criminal sitting on the U.S. First Circuit," according to Common Dreams. Ouch.

That's not all. Next, we have a final ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on the Pledge of Allegiance, and an en banc rehearing of the case of the inmate who "needs" sex re-assignment surgery. Read on for details.

Waleska Garayalde-Rijos applied to be a firefighter in the Municipality of Carolina in Puerto Rico. She was the only woman to apply, and though she had the highest test score among all the applicants, she was not hired. Carolina hired seven men with lower test scores for the vacant positions.

The EEOC Complaint

Garayalde-Rijos filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). And only after the EEOC concluded that gender discrimination occurred in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Municipality of Carolina hired Garayalde-Rijos for the last vacant position.

The First Circuit made headlines at the end of last week with news regarding two notorious Massachusetts convicted criminals, Gary Lee Sampson and Tarek Mehanna.

New Death Penalty Hearing

Gary Lee Sampson pleaded guilty to carjacking and killing three people, and a jury sentenced him to death in 2003, reports The Boston Globe. District court Judge Wolf vacated his sentence after he learned that "one of the jurors lied about her family's history with drugs and law enforcement," noting that "he would have excluded her if he had known," according to The Boston Globe.

On appeal, the First Circuit affirmed his decision.

The First Circuit decided a case last week that may result in a certiorari petition to the Supreme Court. The case deals with the intersection of the First Amendment and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act ("AETA"), and whether the plaintiffs actually have standing to challenge the Act.

AETA and the First Amendment

A group of individual animal rights activists are challenging the AETA arguing the Act violates the First Amendment on three grounds: (1) the Act is overbroad on its face and as applied; (2) the Act discriminates based on viewpoint and content; and (3) the Act is void for vagueness on its face and as applied. The plaintiffs want to protest certain animal enterprises, but argue that they have suffered in an injury-in-fact because they are restraining their speech in fear of future harm.