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

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New Hampshire has law allowing vote counters to discard absentee ballots if the signature on the ballot doesn't match the signature on the voter's registration card. This law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in the state.

Despite the low statistical significance of the law's impact (the law affected approximately 0.5 percent of votes), even a small amount adds up to a few hundred individuals being denied the right to vote. The district court acknowledged that absentee voting isn't as clearly established of a right as voting itself, but it explained that when absentee voting is offered by a state, there must be procedural safeguards.

ACLU Sues for Man to Get Addiction Treatment in Jail

Cold turkey works for some people, but not Zachary Smith.

He is a long-time addict, starting with opioid painkillers when he was a teenager. When his sister died of a heroin overdose, he got scared and serious about getting treatment.

That's why he is suing the Department of Corrections in Maine. They won't give him his prescription, and he's afraid he will die in jail. The ACLU is now fighting to get him addiction treatment.

In a federal First Circuit appeal that pulls at the heartstrings while also pushing the boundaries of privacy rights, a disabled, non-verbal primary school student has been denied the right to carry around an audio or video recorder while at school.

Although it was the student's parents that were pushing for this, anyone with the littlest shred of empathy would easily understand their plight. The parents of the student steadfastly maintain that their son should be allowed to carry a working audio recorder while at school so that they can know what is going on. Unfortunately for the parents, the school, and the courts, just didn't see it the same way.

New Hampshire law allows, but doesn't require, abortion clinics to create a buffer zone around their facilities, of up to 25 feet. The public, with some exceptions, is excluded from that zone.

Abortion opponents sued to have the law overturned under the Supreme Court's McCullen v. Coakley decision, issued just a few days after the buffer zone law was enacted. Except there's a fatal flaw to that lawsuit, the First Circuit ruled last Wednesday: the law has never been activated or enforced.

Drug-Testing Discrimination Case Revived by First Circuit

Reviving a lawsuit by black police officers who claimed hair testing for drugs discriminated against them, a federal appeals court has ruled that hair testing "plus urinalysis" could be a reliable alternative to hair testing alone.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court decision against ten Boston Police Department employees who claimed that the hair test alone was discriminatory. According to the court, hair tests showed that 99 percent of white workers did not use illegal drugs and 98 percent of black employees did not use them.

The court said that amounted to a disparate impact on the black officers, and that a hair test plus urinalysis could have been offered to them instead. The trial court must reconvene for a jury to decide whether "hair testing plus urinalysis" would be more fair to the officers.

"The record contains sufficient evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that hair testing plus a follow-up series of random urinalysis tests for those few officers who tested positive on the hair test would have been as accurate as the hair test alone at detecting the nonpresence of cocaine metabolites while simultaneously yielding a smaller share of false positives in a manner that would have reduced the disparate impact of the hair test," the court said.

Activist Loses Appeal for Appointed Counsel in Fight Against TSA Body Scanning

It has not easy being Sai. The activist, who goes by a mononym to reject any authority to make him use another name, got rejected by a federal appeals court in his case against the Transportation Security Administration. He wanted the court to appoint a lawyer for him in his fight against body scanning by the TSA.

The First Circuit Court of Appeal had one word for him: "No."

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.

First Circuit Dismisses Gun Law Challenge, Upholds Restrictions

Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter graced the First Circuit, sitting by designation, for an appeal involving the Second Amendment. It seems like guns are getting all the press these days.

But Souter's opinion wasn't exactly what we would call a treatise of judicial erudition. The darn thing was only eight pages in Courier font.

VPPA Case Means Panic Mode for App Developers

The First Circuit just handed down a decision that will send app developers panic mode. The federal court has ruled that persons who surrender information without opting out can form the basis of a Video Privacy Protection Act suit against the companies who share that information with third parties.

And, unless you've been living on another planet, this has implications for pretty much all companies that collect information.

1st Circ. Resolves Sentencing Dispute for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

In USA v. Pabon, the First Circuit helped clarify that under applicable laws, sex offenders must not violate the registration requirements of local laws of sex offenders or of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Defendants would do well to understand that the more egregious their criminal background is, the harder it is to secure sympathy from the court.