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The federal misprision statute requires that a person with knowledge of a felony report such knowledge to the authorities. Generally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant took some affirmative step to conceal the crime from authorities. In United States v. Caraballo-Rodriguez, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether the defendant’s conviction for misprision could be sustained under plain error review absent proof of an affirmative act of concealment. The court held that there was no act requirement and thus, no plain error at trial. . . .
The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) provides consumers with the right to rescind their loan agreements within three days of the closing of the transactions. Beyond this statutory provision permitting consumer recovery, the federal courts remain split as to the availability of class certification for actions brought under TILA. In McKenna v. First Horizon Home Loan Corp., the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered, in a case of first impression, the legitimacy of class actions brought under the rescission provisions of TILA. Relying on its interpretation of congressional intent and the personalized remedy provided by the rescission section, the court held that class certification is unavailable in rescission actions under TILA. . . .
Federalism is “[t]he legal relationship and distribution of power between the national and regional governments . . . .” When state and federal laws conflict, the court will conduct a preemption analysis to determine whether an injunction of the state law is in order. In United States v. Massachusetts, the First Circuit considered whether the federal Port and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) preempted the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act (MOSPA). After the district court dismissed the action on the pleadings, the First Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that further analysis was necessary. . . .
In 1977, the United States Supreme Court espoused a framework to determine whether impermissibly discharging an employee due to his or her union activities constitutes an unfair labor practice. This framework requires that the employee first prove that his or her labor union activities were a substantial, motivating factor in the discharge; then the burden of proof shifts to the employer to show that the employee’s union participation was immaterial to the discharge. In Hospital Cristo Redentor, Inc. v. NLRB, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit analyzed whether the Hospital Cristo Redentor (Hospital) impermissibly fired its employee for his union involvement. Once the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) showed the employee’s union activity was a motivating factor in his discharge, the Hospital bore the burden of proof to demonstrate that they would have fired the employee regardless of his participation in the labor union. The court determined that the Hospital violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by firing an employee in retaliation for his union activities. . . .
The Clean Water Act (CWA) extends federal protection to “navigable waters,” which it broadly defines as “the waters of the United States, including territorial seas.” In Rapanos v. United States, the Supreme Court attempted to define the standard for determining the CWA’s reach over wetlands but, unable to reach a majority opinion, issued a fragmented plurality decision setting forth conflicting legal standards. To identify Rapanos’s controlling legal standard, some courts invoke the narrowest ground formula while others adopt Justice Stevens’s instructions set forth in his Rapanos dissent. In United States v. Johnson, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered which of these formulas it should invoke in construing Rapanos. The First Circuit adopted Justice Stevens’s instructions and directed lower courts to find CWA jurisdiction over wetlands that satisfy either standard set forth in Rapanos. . . .
In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), allowing federal prosecutors leeway in bringing criminal charges against associates of organized crime enterprises. To secure a RICO conviction, the government must prove five elements, one of which is that the enterprise’s activities affect interstate commerce. In United States v. Nascimento, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether to uphold the appellants’ RICO convictions where the appellants were members of a local gang whose purpose was to assault and murder rival gang members. The First Circuit upheld the convictions and, purposefully splitting from the Sixth Circuit, concluded that RICO requires only a minimal effect on interstate commerce for local, noneconomic crimes. . . .
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) protects the religious freedom of individuals confined to government institutions. Enacted in 2000, RLUIPA prohibits mental and correctional facilities from imposing substantial burdens on the religious exercise of persons residing therein, unless the facility can show a compelling interest effectuated in a narrowly tailored manner. In Spratt v. Rhode Island Department of Corrections, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether the blanket ban on inmate preaching by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) constituted a permissible restriction on religious exercise within the purview of RLUIPA. The First Circuit held that under RLUIPA, RIDOC must affirmatively demonstrate that the regulation is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling interest, rather than
merely asserting it. . . .
Under Massachusetts law, a holder in due course takes a negotiable instrument free from the claims of others; however, when the taker obtains the instrument with notice of another’s claim to the instrument, notice will negate the taker’s holder in due course defense. Notice of a fiduciary breach concerning the instrument is notice of a claim, so that a person who takes the instrument from a payor with notice of the payor’s fiduciary breach to another is not a holder in due course. In Jelmoli Holding, Inc. v. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether, under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff may negate a holder in due course defense when the defendant had no actual knowledge that the person presenting the instrument was a fiduciary. The First Circuit held, pursuant to the General Laws of Massachusetts, that a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant had actual knowledge of a fiduciary’s status, in addition to notice of the fiduciary’s underlying breach of duty. . . .
The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) is a recidivist statute that punishes repeated criminal behavior. Specifically, the ACCA enhances the minimum penalty for those who unlawfully possess firearms and have a history of prior felony convictions. To constitute a predicate felony conviction under ACCA, the prior convictions must have resulted from a crime involving violence or a serious drug offense. In United States v. Matthews, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether using a criminal defendant’s prior juvenile adjudication as a sentencing enhancement under the ACCA offends the Constitution. The First Circuit held that the ACCA’s sentencing enhancement based on prior juvenile adjudications does not violate a defendant’s right to due process of law. . . .
Pursuant to congressional mandate, individuals convicted of certain predicate offenses must submit to mandatory deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) extraction. Such an intrusion on personal autonomy implicates the Fourth Amendment, which affords all citizens the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” In United States v. Weikert, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in a case of first impression, considered whether a forced DNA submission violates the Fourth Amendment. In reversing the district court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for preliminary injunction, the court joined eleven circuits and concluded that extracting and retaining DNA profiles of supervised releasees during their supervised terms did not violate the Fourth Amendment. . . .
A case comment on the original district court opinion in this case is available here, in Volume 40.