First Circuit round-up (continued)


Well, the First Circuit has been as busy as beavers lately – none of this lollygagging on the beach on CJ Lynch's watch apparently.  It may be a circuit with not a lot of judges, but the ones they have are toiling away.

Let's start with the newbie, former PA-ite, William J. Kayatta, Jr.  He issued his first opinions a few weeks ago.  Lifetime overachiever that he is, he issued a clump of four.  [US v. Batchu, 11-2414; US v. Vazquez, 12-1203; US v. Zorrilla-Echevarria, 12-1261, and ROK Builders, LLC v. 2010-1 SFG Venture, LLC, 12-2182]

They are pretty run-of-the mill cases, sentencing etc.  So examine them for their style – concise, clear, understated:  an opening summary paragraph, followed by facts, standard of review and reasoning.  Mimic his approach when briefing; avoid putting off the Court with flowery prose or hyperbole.

Next, here's a link to the "feces" decision that's been bandied about in the press [US v. Strong, 12-1842; Bill Nemitz: Case forecast to leave stain on federal justice system].  CJ Lynch wrote the majority opinion upholding the conviction; Judge Torruella wrote a 30-page dissent.  Judge Kayatta was the swing vote. 

If you add this case to the four others with opinions by Judge Kayatta, it will become readily apparent that becoming a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals is not all beer and skittles.  Life tenure may be a beautiful thing, but you still may end up having to watch a video to try to determine the age of the victim of a sexual predator, as described in one of his opinions, or reviewing whether there's enough evidence in the record to find that a defendant's spatter of feces in a court bathroom was willful destruction, as in Strong.  Not every case is Brown v. Board of Education.

One decision, with a unanimous opinion written by J. Selya, issued in a case with more gravitas. Sampson v. U.S., 12-1643.  That appeal dealt with whether a juror who lied about many things in the voir dire tainted the jury in a death sentencing context so much as to require a do-over.  The answer is yes.

Here's an FLSA decision by Judge Lipez in a case charging undercompensation of hospital workers.  [Manning v. Boston Medical Center, 12-1573].  As the decision notes, a spate of these class actions has been filed throughout the country.  The dismissal of the action is mostly reversed, with a partial dissent from Judge Stahl as to the claim against one of the individual employer defendants.

Finally, the First Circuit denied rehearing en banc of a decision in which it found that warrantless searches of cell phones was a no-no.  [US v. Wurie, 11-1792].  Basically, CJ Lynch says let's not ruminate on this matter any more in this forum, but rather let's pony this issue up to the Supreme Court pronto, given the split in the circuits and state courts on this matter.  Judge Howard adds short remarks saying ditto, but adding that he views the First Circuit as an outlier in finding a warrant necessary (he dissented in the original decision).

There you go, for now.