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

March 2012 Archives

Court Says Presence of Bible Did Not Influence Jury's Verdict

Is the presence of a Bible in a deliberation room cause for a new trial? Is it possible that the Bible could have played a role in violating a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial before an impartial jury? The First Circuit Court of Appeal said no, doesn’t think so.

Carlos Rodriguez was convicted by a jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Almost immediately after his verdict was delivered, the trial judge came to learn that a pocket-sized New Testament Bible was found in the jury deliberation room. The judge notified the defense counsel and counsel moved for a new trial. Defense counsel’s main argument was that the presence of the Bible violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights— namely, the right of a fair trail before an impartial jury and the right to confront the witness against him. Counsel asked that each juror be called back for a voir-dire. The motion was denied.

Seng Tan's Conviction for Boston Pyramid Scheme Upheld

The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of the wife in a husband-and-wife team of pyramid-schemers in Massachusetts. The couple swindled approximately 500 people out of $20,000,000. A third member of the scheme pleaded guilty on the first day of trial.

James Bunchan founded two companies. His ventures were classic pyramid schemes, recruiting investors and offering them incentives to recruit additional investors. Bunchan has since been convicted.

Court Refuses Bankruptcy Attorney's Fee Request for Being Excessive

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, court schedules can lay out the amount of money that an attorney may be awarded. But there are limits to a bankruptcy attorney’s fees in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as we see in a recent First Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

In this case, a bankruptcy attorney challenged the fees he was awarded in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding, claiming that the fees were too meager.

Apply Now: Rhode Island Bankruptcy Judge Vacancy

If you’re a distinguished Rhode Island Bankruptcy lawyer, you may be interested in knowing that there is a judgeship vacancy, and that applications are now being accepted. In a press release, Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the First Circuit Court of Appeals announced the creation of a Bankruptcy Merit Selection Panel. The Panel will screen and review the qualifications of applicants for the Bankruptcy Judge vacancy left by the Honorable Arthur N. Votolato.

Judge Votolato has served on the Bankruptcy Court in the District of Rhode Island since 1968. Judge Votolato, a 1956 graduate of Boston University School of Law, served as Bankruptcy Court Judge after a distinguished career in Bankruptcy, where he became Chief Judge of the First Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel in 1996.

Smooth Sailing at William J. Kayatta's Confirmation Hearing

Earlier this year, we reported that William J. Kayatta was nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals to replace the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Kermit Lipez.

We anticipated that the vetting process might be a little more stringent this time around, given the recent controversy over other recent Federal appellate nominees. It's fair to say, however, that Kayatta has cleared his first round of hurdles this week, as his confirmation hearings were held on March 14.

Bangladeshi Family's Deportation Appeal Denied by First Circuit

Petitioners, a family of Bangladeshi citizens, sought review of a final order of removal issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals, only to have their petition for review denied by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Hasan family is now facing deportation.

Law Job in Boston: 1st Circuit Taking Applications for Staff Attorney

If you’re in the market for a law job in Boston, here’s some good news. You might be able to work at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s time to fire up your resume and send it out ASAP.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has announced a vacancy for Staff Attorney. But hurry up. This vacancy closes on March 19, 2012.

No Habeas For Killer Who Claimed Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a lower court's denial on a request for habeas corpus relief of a prisoner, Alfredo Companonio.

Companonio is currently serving a life sentence for a 1987 conviction on first degree murder. He claims that he was wrongly convicted as he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the course of his murder trial. Specifically, Companonio is alleging that his counsel failed to present a mental impairment defense.

Do You Have Standing to Bring an Internet Security Claim?

As Anonymous continues hacking websites and teaching the online world lessons in Internet security, more consumers will receive disconcerting email messages from businesses saying, "We're sorry, but your personal information stored on our website has been compromised."

When we learn that a website which contains our personal information doesn't meet proper Internet security standards, we have the same reaction as Brenda Katz, today's First Circuit Court of Appeals appellee: We wanted to hold someone accountable.