Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court imposing a sanction against Appellant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.Appellant was a Massachusetts lawyer who brought suit on behalf of Gerald Alston, a black man who formerly worked as a firefighter. Defendant Stanley Spiegel eventually moved to dismiss and for sanctions. The magistrate judge recommended that the district court dismiss the claims against Spiegel with prejudice and ruled that sanctions were in order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Appellant persisted in pursuing claims against Spiegel without an adequate basis in law or fact and despite a warning from the magistrate judge, sanctions were in order. View "Ames v. Spiegel" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's order sanctioning Attorney for failing to appear at a status conference, holding that where Attorney was fined without first being given a chance to show cause or explain her failure to appear, the court's order was an abuse of discretion.After Attorney failed to appear at a status conference the district court opened the conference by imposing a monetary sanction on Attorney for her failure to appear. Attorney filed two motions for reconsideration asking the court to excuse her non-appearance due to "mistake" in scheduling. The district court denied the motions for reconsideration. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the sanctions were an abuse of discretion because (1) the district judge in this case does not uniformly sanction all counsel who fail to appear; (2) it cannot be determined which non-appearing attorneys are sanctions and which ones are not; and (3) the district court fined Attorney without first giving her a chance to show cause or explain her failure to appear. View "In re Pimentel-Soto" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the federal district court denying Appellant's request for a declaratory judgment asserting that a protective order that remained in effect in his now-closed state criminal case was unconstitutional, holding that the state court judge was protected from this lawsuit by the doctrine of judicial immunity.Appellant filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the protective order violated his First Amendment rights. Appellee, the state court judge, responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing that she was protected by judicial immunity. The federal district court granted Appellee's motion to dismiss. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellee's actions were shielded from attack by judicial immunity. View "Zenon v. Guzman" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the revocation of his attorney’s license, holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred his suit.After the Rhode Island Supreme Court suspended Plaintiff from practicing law for one year, Plaintiff filed this federal suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against nearly two dozen judicial officers and administrators who had participated in his disciplinary proceedings, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under both the Rhode Island and the United States Constitutions. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss primarily on the grounds that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine divested the court of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly ruled that Plaintiff’s suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. View "McKenna v. Curtin" on Justia Law