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

February 2012 Archives

First Circuit Ruling Stands: Supreme Court Rejects NOM Appeal

A First Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding a Maine campaign reporting law will remain intact after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to that law this week.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an advocacy group that opposes same-sex marriage initiatives in state legislatures, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the First Circuit's August 2011 ruling, which deemed the campaign reporting law constitutional.

Will Golinski Ruling Bolster Gill v. OPM in First Circuit Appeal?

The Gill v. OPM plaintiffs got a boost this week with another federal court decision that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against gay marriage. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in Golinski v. OPM that DOMA Section 3 “treats gay men and lesbians differently on the basis of their sexual orientation” without any legal basis, and that “the imposition of subjective moral beliefs of a majority on a minority cannot provide a justification.”

The decision hit on many of the same points that District Judge Joseph Louis Tauro highlighted in his summary judgment ruling in favor of the Gill plaintiffs in 2010.

Strategy Decision Doesn't Warrant Ineffective Counsel Reversal

The First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a first-degree murder convict's ineffective counsel argument last week, finding that the lawyer's strategic decision to avoid raising his client's medical history as part of his defense was reasonable.

Victor Smith killed his cousin's boyfriend after consuming ten drinks and two Artane pills - a medication prescribed to Smith to treat Tourette's Syndrome -- in about six hours. Smith was upset by news that the victim had beat up his cousin, and responded by stabbing the victim 22 times.

First Circuit Hears Appeal in Lawyer Robert Ciresi's Bribery Case

The First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week in the bribery and extortion case of attorney Robert S. Ciresi.

Ciresi, a former North Providence town attorney, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison last year for his role in facilitating bribes for three former North Providence councilmen, who eventually pleaded guilty to their crimes. Ciresi was the only one to proceed to trial, where he was convicted of conspiracy, bribery and Hobbs Act extortion last April.

First Circuit: Camden Burglary Investigation Conducted Properly

A woman disgruntled with the way a Camden burglary investigation was conducted lost her challenge in the First Circuit Court of Appeals last Tuesday.

Finding in favor of the Camden Police Department, the First Circuit held that Linda Ann Irving’s appeal offered “little in the way of substantive challenges to the district court’s decision.”

Irving had initially argued that the police failed to properly investigate a March 2008 burglary of her Camden home. She alleged that her neighbor had entered her home to steal her financial identity by obtaining her computer compact discs; however, the police could not obtain enough evidence to target any suspects or even conclude if a burglary had occurred.

Jersey's New Wine Law Foolishly Disregarding 1st Circuit Decision?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill into law legalizing winery direct shipping in the Garden State, but does the new law taunt federal appellate court precedent?

The law allows out-of-state, licensed wineries to directly ship, at most, 12 cases annually to New Jersey residents who are 21-years or older. It is reportedly the 39th state to allow direct shipping.

However, the new law doesn't allow direct shipping from wineries that make over 250,000 gallons of wine annually, which is known as a "capacity cap limit."

Mutual Fund Contractors Left Unprotected by Whistleblower Law

Mutual fund employees at publicly-traded companies are not covered by federal whistleblower laws, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday.

In a case of first impression, the First Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision to apply the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to private company advisers that contract with public companies.

The case involved two former Fidelity Investments employees who claimed that they were punished by their employer for alleging fraudulent practices at the company.

Fidelity argued that the employees weren’t covered by Sarbanes-Oxley since it is not a publicly traded company that Congress intended the Act to cover.

First Circuit Ruling May Force Disclosing Anti-Gay Marriage Donors

While we wait for the First Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the “big guns” challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the court dealt with a related issue to gay marriage in a decision released on Tuesday.

Upholding a Maine law that requires groups that spend more than $5,000 on referendum advocacy to disclose the identity of donors that gave more than $100, the First Circuit held that the law provided fair warning of its reach, it was not overbroad and its $100 threshold was narrowly tailored to meet Maine’s compelling interest in an informed electorate.

Could Satanism Case Make Its Way to the First Circuit?

A convicted murderer is slowly making his way up the appeals process ladder in his attempt to get Maine officials to allow him to fully practice Satanism in prison.

Joshua Cookson, a devout Satanist, is allowed to practice in his cell and has reportedly done so on a daily basis since 2007. Cookson, however, wants the same opportunity to practice in the prison’s activities building as other prisoners of religious groups - including paganism and American Indian spirituality - because it “is one of the fundamental parts of his religious beliefs.”