Criminal Law News - U.S. First Circuit
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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.

Insider Trading Rule: 'Gratitude' Can Be a 'Personal Benefit'

The First Circuit affirmed a pair of consolidated insider trading convictions in which general gratitude for being a tippee could be considered a personal benefit under federal securities laws. The same goes for wine, steak and massage parlors.

If that doesn't worry you, that's probably because you don't golf too much.

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.

Cop Killer Proves to Be His Own Worst Enemy in Miranda Case

As so often happens, a convicted cop-killer in United States v. Lashaun Casey ended up implicating himself after he continued to talk, despite being Mirandized and notified of his right to remain silent.

It's another example that every criminal attorney should use to teach their clients: just stay quiet.

Wife Who Let Felon Husband Borrow Rifle Did Not Commit a Crime

A woman who operated an illegal marijuana farm in the northeastern United States is apparently guilty of a crime of illegally growing pot, but not for aiding and abetting, according to the First Circuit.

The federal appeals court determined that a jury should not have been allowed to convict Darlene Ford for letting her husband borrow her assault rifle for target practice merely because she "had reason to know" of his felonious past.

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.

Backpage.com Is Not Liable for Sex Trafficking, 1st Circ. Rules

Backpage.com is not liable for alleged sex trafficking cases that took place on its site after Craigslist perspicaciously shut down the "adult" section of its site, according to the First Circuit.

The decision of the circuit court should come as relief to websites which look to shield themselves from liability from the ribald and illicit acts of its users.

1st Cir Says Justice Has Been Served for Whitey Bulger

Justice has been served and nothing that happened at the lower federal level warranted a reversal of James "Whitey" Bulger's convictions arising out of his participation with 11 murders and his East Coast criminal enterprise.

One of the issues critical to the case concerned Bulger's claim that he was promised immunity by the former federal prosecutor. The First Circuit Court affirmed the lower court decision and found that Bulger failed to prove that the promise ever took place.

Answering a question it acknowledged was left open by the Supreme Court's 2012 Setser v. United States decisions, the First Circuit ruled last Friday that federal sentences may not be ordered to be consecutive to another anticipated, but not yet imposed, federal sentence.

The case involves the sentencing of Heriberto Almonte-Reyes, who was convicted of conspiracy to import heroin in Puerto Rico while also facing charges for money laundering in Georgia. The district court of Puerto Rico sentenced Almonte-Reyes to 120 months in prison, to be served consecutively to "any term to be imposed" in his Georgia case.

When Anthony Soto-Rivera was arrested, he was in possession of a machine gun. Unfortunately for him, Soto-Rivera was also a felon, making his possession of any firearm, not to mention a machine gun, illegal. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced as a career criminal, under the assumption that being a felon in possession of a firearm is a "crime of violence" for federal career offender sentencing enhancements.

Not so, the First Circuit ruled last Friday. Given the Supreme Court's recent invalidation of the unconstitutionally vague "residual clause" in the Armed Career Criminal Act, the similar language in the federal sentencing guidelines must too fall, meaning the mere possession of a firearm cannot be seen as a crime of violence, the First Circuit found.