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

March 2015 Archives

Mass. Now Requires Lawyers to Stay Abreast of Technology

Massachusetts has joined the ranks of states requiring attorneys to keep pace with technology as part of their ethical obligations. Among the changes the Supreme Judicial Court authorized to the state rules of professional conduct was the addition of a comment to Rule 1.1, which outlines a lawyer's duty to provide competent representation.

The change comes as more and more states, and the ABA, are recognizing that lawyers who don't understand new technology aren't just adorable throwbacks, but could be endangering their clients' interests.

Puerto Rico Will No Longer Enforce Its Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Back in October, a federal judge in Puerto Rico bucked the same-sex marriage trend by declaring that the island wouldn't be going the way of almost every other court in holding same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

Last Friday, though, Judge Perez-Gimenez's decision became a lot less relevant. Puerto Rico announced that it would no longer enforce its same-sex marriage ban.

Transgender Inmate Files Cert. Petition With Supreme Court

Following an en banc reversal of fortune, Michelle Kosilek was denied the ability to have a sex-change operation paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Both a federal district court and a three-judge panel of the First Circuit agreed that the state should pay, but the en banc court reversed.

Now, Kosilek is taking her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Malice Requires an 'Evil Purpose,' Not Just an 'Improper Motive'

"[T]he district court's definition just won't fly," Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote in not even the first of several puns in a case about making a false report of a bomb threat on an airplane.

In a 2-1 split, a First Circuit panel reversed a former flight attendant's conviction for making false threats, finding the federal district court erred when it defined "malice" for the jury as not requiring an "evil purpose."

1st Cir. Denies 2nd Tsarnaev Request for Change of Venue

Three times, attorneys for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal district court in Boston to change the venue for the trial, arguing that he couldn't get a fair shake in the city where the bombing took place in 2013. The district court denied his request, which meant the ball ended up in the First Circuit's court.

On February 27, a split panel denied Tsarnaev's petition for a writ of mandamus -- again -- acknowledging that "any high-profile case will receive significant media attention" but nevertheless concluding that Tsarnaev didn't meet the criteria for showing "clear and indisputable, irreparable harm."