- 50th Anniversary
- Online Edition
- Print Edition
- Donahue Lecture Series
Congress delegates authority to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to place inmates. In determining inmate placement, the BOP must consider five individualized factors before selecting a suitable penal facility for each inmate. In 2005, the BOP created regulations (2005 regulations) that categorically denied placement and transfer to community correction centers (CCCs) until the last 10 percent of a sentence. In Muniz v. Sabol, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether the 2005 regulations were contrary to the BOP’s congressional mandate by denying the BOP authority to render individualized placement assessments. The First Circuit held the BOP could make rules of general applicability to guide the individualized application of its statutory discretion and concluded that the 2005 regulations were a reasonable exercise of that discretion. . . .
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a plaintiff to plead the basis for the court’s jurisdiction in his or her complaint. Rule 15(a) allows a plaintiff to amend his or her complaint as a matter of right, provided that the defendant has not previously served a responsive pleading. In ConnectU L.L.C. v. Zuckerberg, the First Circuit considered in a matter of first impression whether an amended complaint that switches from diversity of citizenship jurisdiction to federal question jurisdiction is effective when filed as of right prior to any jurisdictional challenge. The court held that the jurisdictional claim in the amended complaint conferred jurisdiction because it superseded and replaced the original complaint. . . .
In response to increasing acts of piracy on commercial airlines, Congress enacted the Federal Aviation Act (FAA), which established regulations to improve and maintain safety standards in commercial aviation. Although the FAA includes an anti-discrimination provision, section 44902(b) of the Act grants air carriers broad discretion to refuse transportation to any passenger a “carrier decides is, or might be inimical to safety.” In Cerqueira v. American Airlines, Inc., the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in a case of first impression, considered the proper standard for a passenger’s discrimination claim against an air carrier that relies on the protection under section 44902(b) to refuse passengers transportation. The First Circuit held that the plaintiff passenger must show the air carrier’s decision to refuse transportation and rebooking is arbitrary or capricious based on the information known to the decision-maker at the time of the refusal. . . .
At times in United States history, religious freedom and the right to a public education have been at odds, and these disputes have frequently spilled into the federal courts. Particularly, federal courts have often heard claims from parents who argue that public schools violated their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and Fourteenth Amendment right to direct the upbringing of their children. In Parker v. Hurley, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether a public school violated parents’ constitutional rights when it exposed young students to picture books depicting same-sex couples without affording parents the opportunity to exempt their children. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the parents’ claims, holding that the claims were constitutionally insignificant. . . .
A 1962 Department of Defense (DOD) directive authorizes the discharge from service of military members with religiously based conscientious objections to war. A conscientious objection is “a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form . . . because of religious training and belief.” In Hanna v. Secretary of the Army, the First Circuit considered whether the Army had a “basis in fact” for denying the applicant conscientious-objector status. The court held that the decision of the Department of the Army Conscientious Objector Review Board (Board) was without a basis in fact because the Board lacked hard, reliable, articulable facts for denying the claim. . . .
Courts employ plain-error analysis when reviewing unpreserved errors in a criminal trial, but apply harmless-error analysis for errors preserved through objection. Although most constitutional errors are subject to harmless-error analysis, certain so-called structural errors are reversible per se. In United States v. Brandao, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether the unpreserved error of a constructively amended indictment was per se reversible error or subject to plain error analysis. Already the issue of a circuit split, the court joined with those circuits applying plain-error analysis, declined to recognize a constructive amendment as a structural error, and affirmed the conviction. . . .
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of sex. In non-tangible employment actions, an employer is vicariously liable for a supervisor’s unlawful sexual harassment unless the employer can establish the Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense: that it acted reasonably to prevent and correct harassment and that the employee did not act reasonably to avoid harm. In Chaloult v. Interstate Brands Corp., the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether a lateral supervisor’s knowledge of sexual harassment is vicariously attributable to an employer when the employer’s sexual-harassment policy requires all supervisors to report any known misconduct. The court refused to extend Title VII liability to an employer simply because it voluntarily adopted a sexual-harassment policy requiring all supervisors to report sexual harassment.
An Immigration Judge (IJ) or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) will commonly deny an application for asylum in the United States as a result of an adverse credibility determination. Appellate Courts give adverse credibility determinations great deference on appeal if the IJ gave specific reasons justifying the finding. In Cuko v. Mukasey, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether an adverse credibility determination based on perceived inconsistencies in testimony and the applicant’s demeanor should be upheld under this deferential standard of review. The First Circuit, applying the substantial evidence standard, denied the petition for review because the record did not compel a decision contrary to that of the IJ and BIA. . . .
Under the All Writs Act of the United States Code, federal courts have the power to entertain an array of common-law writs. In certain narrow circumstances, the rare writ of error coram nobis is a remedial petition primarily available to criminal defendants who want to challenge their convictions. When pursuing this remedy, the petitioner must meet the writ’s strict requirements for the original court to grant a hearing. In Trenkler v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts properly granted the petitioner’s writ of coram nobis. Judge Selya, writing for a unanimous court, reversed the grant citing that the petitioner failed to meet the writ’s strict requirements. . . .
Immigration statutes have traditionally contained provisions that limit federal district court jurisdiction over administrative appeals and require individuals to exhaust administrative remedies before seeking judicial review of immigration claims. As in other areas of administrative law, courts have considered such provisions and determined the circumstances in which the court should waive exhaustion requirements and extend judicial review. The REAL ID Act of 2005, one of the most recent immigration statutes, requires administrative exhaustion and significantly limits judicial review of claims “arising” from immigration removal proceedings. In Aguilar v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit addressed class-wide claims that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a pattern and practice of violating aliens’ due process right to counsel during large scale immigration raids. The First Circuit considered whether such pattern-and-practice claims “arise” from removal proceedings, thus triggering the REAL ID Act’s provisions, and whether enforcing the provisions would foreclose the opportunity for meaningful judicial review. The court held that although framed as a pattern-and-practice action, the underlying right-to-counsel claims “arose” from removal, and that the court could enforce the REAL ID Act without foreclosing meaningful judicial review of those claims. . . .