First Circuit

The Federal Docket

French v. Merrill (1st Cir. October 2021)

In an appeal from a grant of qualified immunity in a 1983 case, the First Circuit held that police officers violated clearly established Fourth Amendment law when they repeatedly entered the curtilage of a man’s home and knocked on his door and windows despite clear indications that he did not want to come to the door. The Court held this was clearly a violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment rights under Florida v. Jardines.

United States v. Pérez-Rodríguez (1st Cir. September 2021)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction for enticing a minor after the defendant arranged with an undercover agent to have sex with a minor. The Court held that the defendant was entitled to an instruction on entrapment where there was evidence of improper inducement based on the agent offering to “bundle” legal sex with an adult with illegal sex with a minor, and where the agent downplayed the potential harm. There was also evidence that the defendant was not predisposed, given the lack of evidence of similar transactions and the defendant’s initial hesitation.

United States v. Hannah Patch (1st Cir. August 2021)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for maintaining a drug involved premises. The Court held that the district court erred in applying the higher offense level under USSG 2D1.8(a) because there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had participated in the underlying drug offense beyond providing her apartment to her boyfriend as a place to sell and store drugs. The fact that she knew about his drug activities and accompanied him on some of his trips to resupply, standing alone, were not enough to show she participated.

United States v. Angel Carrasquillo-Sanchez (1st Cir. August 2021)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for possession of a firearm by an unlawful drug user. The Court held that the district court committed plain error where it varied upwards from the defendant’s Guidelines range based on the fact that the defendant possessed a machine gun and its concerns with violent crimes in Puerto Rico. The Court held that the type of firearm possessed was already covered by the Guidelines, and thus could not be the basis for an upwards variance, and the district court failed to tie its concerns with crime in Puerto Rico to this specific defendant’s conduct.

United States v. Carlos Garcia-Perez (1st Cir. August 2021)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for possession of a machine gun. Reviewing for procedural reasonableness, the Court held that the district court failed to adequately explain its basis for its 12-month upwards variance and that the only reason cited by the court, the fact that the machine gun was dangerous, was already covered by the Guidelines and thus an improper basis for the variance.

United States v. Abdulaziz (1st Cir. June 2021)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence which had been enhanced based on a 2014 conviction under state law for distributing marijuana, which the sentencing court held was a “controlled substance offense” under the Guidelines. The First Circuit held that convictions under state laws that do not distinguish between marijuana and hemp, as defined and legalized under federal law, cannot serve as “controlled substance offenses” under the Guidelines.

United States v. Jose Reyes-Correa (1st Cir. August 2020)

The First Circuit reversed the denial of a defendant’s motion to dismiss federal drug conspiracy offenses under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, holding that the Puerto Rico government and U.S. federal government are not separate sovereigns for Double Jeopardy purposes, so the defendant’s federal charges for drug conspiracy were barred by his prior conviction under Puerto Rican law for the same offense conduct.

United States v. Hector Cruz-Mercedes (1st Cir. December 2019)

The Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that fingerprints obtained as a result of an unlawful arrest should not be excluded under the routine booking exception to the Fourth Amendment.

United States v. David Wright (1st Cir. August 2019)

The Court reversed the defendant’s conviction. In reviewing the trial court’s jury instructions on providing material support or resources to a terrorist organization, the Court held that a defendant does not act “in coordination” with a terrorist group simply by utilizing “strategy” or “tactics” used by that organization and published online by that organization.

United States v. Jambulat Tkhilaishvili, et al. (1st Cir. June 2019)

The First Circuit rejected the defendants’ argument that the Government had failed to prove that the defendants had “obtained” property from another because the investor’s interest was intended for a friend and not the defendants. The Court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the investor’s interest in the clinic was not “property” under the Hobbs Act because it was not profitable at the time of the attempted extortion and that a “heightened showing” of an effect on interstate commerce is required when the victim is an individual rather than a business.

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