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Court Upholds Hospital's Non-Union Hiring

Reversing a decision by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal appeals court has upheld a hospital group's preference for hiring non-union workers at its non-union hospitals.

The First Circuit Court of Appeal said the NLRB did not have substantial evidence for its finding that the hospital group unfairly preferred non-union workers. The court acknowledged that the hospital group also had a policy preferring union workers at its unionized hospital.

The court said the employer's desire to treat its union and nonunion employees and "even-handed" way negated an inference that the policy was motivated by union animus.

Drug-Testing Discrimination Case Revived by First Circuit

Reviving a lawsuit by black police officers who claimed hair testing for drugs discriminated against them, a federal appeals court has ruled that hair testing "plus urinalysis" could be a reliable alternative to hair testing alone.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court decision against ten Boston Police Department employees who claimed that the hair test alone was discriminatory. According to the court, hair tests showed that 99 percent of white workers did not use illegal drugs and 98 percent of black employees did not use them.

The court said that amounted to a disparate impact on the black officers, and that a hair test plus urinalysis could have been offered to them instead. The trial court must reconvene for a jury to decide whether "hair testing plus urinalysis" would be more fair to the officers.

"The record contains sufficient evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that hair testing plus a follow-up series of random urinalysis tests for those few officers who tested positive on the hair test would have been as accurate as the hair test alone at detecting the nonpresence of cocaine metabolites while simultaneously yielding a smaller share of false positives in a manner that would have reduced the disparate impact of the hair test," the court said.

A federal judge in Puerto Rico overreacted when he had court officers forcibly seat an attorney who had objected to an objection, the First Circuit said yesterday. But that overreaction wasn't enough to overturn the drug conviction of Marquez-Perez, the court found.

Rather, it was the performance from that same, forcibly-seated lawyer that may save Marquez-Perez. Since the attorney had failed to review important evidence before trial, Marquez-Perez may have been denied effective counsel, the First Circuit ruled.

The First Circuit tossed out most of a lawsuit against the biotech company Genzyme last week. Genzyme is the sole producer of Fabrazyme, the only treatment for Fabry disease, a rare, deadly genetic disorder. Facing a shortage of the drug due to production complications, Genzyme instituted a rationing plan, giving patents a reduced dosage of the medicine they needed to survive -- until the supply dried up entirely.

Patients who needed Fabrazyme to avoid vision and hearing loss, stroke, and even death sued Genzyme, alleging everything from statutory violations to breaches of contract to loss of consortium. But, the First Circuit ruled this week, all but one of those patients lacked standing to sue.

Cuba Steals Family's Wealth but Judgment Is Unenforceable

It's a story of family saga fit for movie-making. Two brothers, persecuted by Cuban authorities under threat of extermination, flee to America to begin a new life. Decades later, they successfully obtain a judgment against the communist nation in the amount of $2.8 billion.

But the island country has not paid a single dime of that money. And, with a recent decision on the brothers' attempts to enforce, it looks like options are running out.

SCOTUS Rejects 1st Cir. Planned Parenthood Case

SCOTUS decided to let stand a First Circuit decision to shield Planned Parenthood documents from an anti-abortion group. Customarily, SCOTUS did not give any reasoning for its decision.

Conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia both dissented. They stated that confusion in the lower courts over the federal Freedom of Information Act should get SCOTUS review.

Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Guilty on All Counts

The verdict is in: After barely two days of deliberation, a federal jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all of the 30 counts relating to his involvement in the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon, which killed three and injured over 200.

Now that Tsarnaev has been found guilty on at least one of the 17 counts that carry the death penalty, the trial will now proceed to the sentencing phase, where the same jury will decide whether Tsarnaev should be given that sentence.

1st Cir. Year in Review: Top 10 Stories of 2014

The First Circuit. It's one of my personal favorites because of the judges themselves -- from the logoleptic Senior Judge Bruce Selya to the talented storytelling Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson.

What were the year's most exciting stories from the First Circuit? From sex changes to strip clubs to Fidelity's fiduciary duties, these were the 10 most popular posts, in terms of traffic, for 2014:

The First Circuit is making moves into the 21st Century as it is updating the mechanics for accepting filing fees.

Read on as we give you an outline on everything you need to know about the new filing requirements.

President Obama has nominated several Indian-Americans to posts on the federal judiciary, and last week, a unanimous U.S. Senate voted 94-0 to confirm Indira Talwani as the first Indian-American to sit in the First Circuit, reports INDOlink.

Read on to learn more about Massachusetts' newest district judge.