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

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

Man Who Used Fake Trade Name to Bilk $200K Loses Appeal of Sentence

A man who was criminally convicted for having used a fake trade name to bilk thousands of victims into writing him checks failed to get the First Circuit to overturn his sentence. It appears that unless fortune smiles upon Darren Stokes, his four-year sentence in federal prison will stand.

The court found that no reasonable expectation of privacy exists in pieces of mail that do not feature a potential defendant's personal address. In his fraud scheme, Stokes not only used a phony address, but also a fake name.

First Circuit Dismisses Gun Law Challenge, Upholds Restrictions

Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter graced the First Circuit, sitting by designation, for an appeal involving the Second Amendment. It seems like guns are getting all the press these days.

But Souter's opinion wasn't exactly what we would call a treatise of judicial erudition. The darn thing was only eight pages in Courier font.

VPPA Case Means Panic Mode for App Developers

The First Circuit just handed down a decision that will send app developers panic mode. The federal court has ruled that persons who surrender information without opting out can form the basis of a Video Privacy Protection Act suit against the companies who share that information with third parties.

And, unless you've been living on another planet, this has implications for pretty much all companies that collect information.

1st Circ. Resolves Sentencing Dispute for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

In USA v. Pabon, the First Circuit helped clarify that under applicable laws, sex offenders must not violate the registration requirements of local laws of sex offenders or of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Defendants would do well to understand that the more egregious their criminal background is, the harder it is to secure sympathy from the court.

Can the IRS Force Disclosure of Foreign Bank Account Info? Yes, 1st Cir. Rules

The First Circuit partly affirmed a lower district ruling ordering Zhong H. Chen and his wife Chu H. Ng to hand over business and financial records pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act, the federal act intended to pry open records relating to possible overseas financial criminal activity.

The case highlights the tensions between the right against self incrimination and the government's need to review documents under the Required Records Doctrine.

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.

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."

In 2012, police in Portland, Maine declared a "public safety emergency." Too many people, it seemed, were panhandling. Asking "brother, can you spare a dime," the mendicants would often stand on busy street corners and medians, entreating drivers as they passed by. Concerned that panhandlers would stumble into traffic -- or just wanting to keep the poor out of sight and out of mind -- the Portland City Council adopted a resolution banning virtually all activity in median strips.

The law banned virtually every use of a media, except for passing over it when crossing a street. Standing, sitting, staying -- all were illegal when done on a median. That indiscriminate ban on "virtually all expressive activity" violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, the First Circuit ruled last Friday.