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

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Bribing the Judge Didn't Pay

Sometimes, a routine traffic stop turns into something more serious. One day in Puerto Rico, it led to the end of a judicial career and 10 years to think about it.

Judge Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez wasn't even driving when police pulled over the car. His friend was driving.

The problem was the officers recognized his friend from a negligent homicide case. The judge had just dismissed it.

The appeal of Douglas Blodgett over the 10-year sentence he received as a result of his guilty plea to criminal charges for accessing child pornography with the intent to view it has been shot down with more explanation than anyone likely expected.

Blodgett was convicted in 2016 after a DHS investigation discovered that he had downloaded and viewed child pornography. However, due to a prior conviction for molesting a 13 year old in 1997, he was subject to the mandatory minimum sentence under the PROTECT Act, which was passed in 2003. The PROTECT Act was designed to penalize participants in the child pornography distribution chain at all levels, from producer to consumer, as well as enhance the penalties for repeat offenders.

Can a General Creditor Recoup Funds in Asset Forfeiture?

Two things are certain: death and taxes. Government claims are a close third.

That's a one-sentence summary of United States of America v. Catala, decided by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court said, as between the government and a general creditor, the government has priority to assets forfeited in a criminal case.

Forfeiture laws are designed to separate a criminal from ill-gotten gains, the appeals panel said. It would carve a "gaping hole into the forfeiture framework" to allow a general creditor to collect from those assets.

The First Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision in the case of U.S. v. Giggey. The appeal questioned the sentence that was imposed on an individual convicted of conspiracy to sell, and possession with intent to sell, both controlled and analogue substances. The substance in question was bath salts, which is just a common name for what could be one of many actual drugs or analogues.

The appeal sought to reduce the sentence based upon various legal theories, including leniency, believe it or not. The appellant, Giggey, received a 72-month sentence, which, as the First Circuit Court of Appeals noted, was significantly less than what the lower court could have imposed. Nevertheless, Giggey sought reconsideration.

Defendant Accidentally Confesses to Judge in Personal Letter

From the 'what-was-he-thinking file,' Jaime Bauzo-Santiago gets an 'A' for honesty but an 'F' for felony stupid.

The defendant thought it would be a good idea to ask the judge in his criminal case for a new lawyer. So he made his request in a personal letter, signed and delivered through the prison mail system.

In that letter, however, he also admitted his crime. He appealed his conviction, but he'll have to work out a different response over the next 15 years.

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.