Criminal Law News - U.S. First Circuit
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Terry stops allow a police officer to briefly detain someone if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the suspect is, or was recently, involved in criminality. An officer can conduct a Terry frisk if he has reason to believe the suspect is armed and dangerous.

The purpose of a Terry stop is to confirm or deny the officer's reasonable suspicion. Against that backdrop comes United States v. Arthur. Two black men wearing dark clothing robbed a Metro PCS store in Maine. Police responded to the silent alarm and attempted to find the culprits. About five minutes after the robbery, police found two black men wearing pea coats walking away from the scene. On their way, they saw no one else matching the suspects' description.

Trying to get access to motions and court orders in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial for allegedly committing the Boston Marathon bombing is not easy because most of the documents are sealed. But, there are a few documents that the public has access to.

After reviewing these court papers and related news accounts, our first reaction is this: you just can't make this stuff up. The flurry of motions must be keeping Judge O'Toole busy, and the trial, though not scheduled to start until November, already has the makings of a television drama.

Robert George was a criminal lawyer turned criminal lawyer. At a Dunkin' Donuts one day (this was Boston, after all), he happened to run into an ex-felon whom he once represented, Ronald Dardinski. Dardinski had gone to prison after pleading guilty in a scam in which he "sold" repossessed cars that weren't his, then kept $750,000 from unwitting victims.

George had initially represented Dardinski, but Dardinski found a different lawyer. George casually asked what happened with the money. Dardinski replied that he had "a bunch of it hidden." Then George -- a lawyer, mind you -- offered to launder the money for him. Dardinski agreed, and then contacted a DEA agent for whom he had been an informant in the past. George started laundering the money, Dardinski recorded all their conversations, yadda yadda yadda, and now George is in federal prison for money laundering and conspiracy.

George appealed his conviction to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction in a very entertaining opinion.

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The trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, better known as one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends, began earlier this month, and a mere two weeks later, the jury has deliberated and found him guilty.

Let's take a closer look at the details surround the criminal trial.

Rolando Rojas was convicted of distributing cocaine, in violation of federal law, to undercover agent Wing Chau, on three different occasions from January 2011 to March 2011. During the course of the investigation, some of the phone calls were recorded, and meetings were video/audio recorded.

Though the prosecution seemed to have enough evidence for a conviction, it made two errors during closing arguments that could affect the outcome of the trial. Did the First Circuit think so? Let's see.

By now, you know the drill when it comes to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother accused of orchestrating the Boston Marathon bombings. In the past year, the prosecution has been building its case alleging 30 charges against Tsarnaev, some of which may carry the death penalty.

Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled for November 3, 2014, but today, the first case against one of Tsarnaev's friends -- Azamat Tazhayakov began. Here's a brief review of today's court proceedings.

With trial set for November, we've seen many motions and maneuverings by trial attorneys in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (a/k/a Boston Bomber) case. In just the past year, we've seen Tsarnaev decide to plead not guilty, and the prosecution showed its hand when it filed its notice to seek the death penalty.

Trying to determine the likelihood of obtaining the death penalty in the event that Tsarnaev is found guilty, the prosecution has also asked whether the defense has any intention of submitting expert testimony related to mental capacity -- that is, whether Tsarnaev would plead mental insanity.

Just last week, with Wednesday deadlines looming, we saw more pre-trial rulings.

In 2013, news of a scandal broke in Massachusetts that called into question the veracity of over 40,000 criminal drug cases, reports Al Jazeera. Annie Dookhan, a chemist in a state laboratory, was responsible for processing evidence in drug cases, such as testing for cocaine and heroin, and weighing substances.

Officials later learned that she had fabricated her credentials, contaminated samples, and dry-labbed -- eyeballing evidence rather than actually testing it to determine its contents. The scandal resulted in many convictions and sentences being appealed, and earlier this month, the First Circuit had occasion to hear the first appeal stemming from, as Judge Selya calls it, Dookhan's "skullduggery."

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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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Tomorrow marks the passing of one-year after the disturbing attack on runners and attendees of the Boston Marathon, allegedly carried out by the Tsarnaev brothers. One year later, and we are closer to trial, yet there may still be delays.

Attempts at finding out exactly what is happening in the case against the only surviving Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are difficult at best to confirm because of the secrecy surrounding the trial. One look at the Public Access to Court Electronic Records database shows listing upon listing of sealed motions, with some of the court's orders inaccessible as well.