United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Former judges
- 8 Locations
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, sometimes referred to as just the First Circuit, is a federal appellate court with appellate jurisdiction. The main court is located in Boston, Massachusetts, but also has a branch in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cases can be appealed from the First Circuit to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
With six judicial posts and four authorized senior judges, the First Circuit is the smallest of the thirteen United States courts of appeals.
Article III judges
|Judge Jeffrey R. Howard||W. Bush||5/3/2002-Present||Norman Stahl||Plymouth State University, 1978||Georgetown University Law, 1981|
|Judge Juan Torruella||Reagan||10/4/1984-Present||1994-2001||New Seat|98 Stat. 333||University of Pennsylvania, 1954||Boston University Law, 1957|
|Chief Judge Sandra Lea Lynch||Clinton||3/17/1995-Present||6/16/2008-Present||Stephen Breyer||Wellesley College, 1968||Boston University Law School, 1971|
|Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson||Obama||3/17/2010-Present||Bruce Marshall Selya||Brown University, 1973||Boston University Law, 1976|
|Judge William Kayatta||2/13/2013-Present||Kermit Lipez||Amherst College, 1976||Harvard Law, 1979|
|Judge David Barron||Obama||5/22/2014-Present||Michael Boudin||Harvard, 1989||Harvard Law, 1994|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge (Inactive) Conrad Cyr||H.W. Bush||11/20/1989-1/31/1997||1/31/1997-Present||Holy Cross College, 1953||Yale Law School, 1956|
|Senior judge Norman Stahl||H.W. Bush||6/30/1992-4/16/2001||4/16/2001-Present||Tufts University, 1952||Harvard Law, 1955|
|Senior Judge Bruce Marshall Selya||Reagan||10/14/1986-12/31/2006||12/31/2006-Present||Harvard University, 1955||Harvard Law School, 1958|
|Senior Judge Levin Hicks Campbell||Nixon||6/30/1972-1/3/1992||1983-1990||1/3/1992-Present||Harvard College, 1948||Harvard Law, 1951|
|Senior Judge Kermit Lipez||Clinton||4/7/1998-12/31/2011||12/31/2011-Present||Haverford College, 1963||Yale Law, 1967|
|Senior Judge Michael Boudin||H.W. Bush||5/26/1992-6/1/2013||2001-2008||6/1/2013-Present||Harvard University, 1961||Harvard Law, 1964|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
The First Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases may be civil or criminal in nature that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the First Circuit Court of Appeals are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Stephen Breyer is the Circuit Justice for the First Circuit.
- District of Maine
- District of Massachusetts
- District of New Hampshire
- District of Puerto Rico
- District of Rhode Island
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September. **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.|
For a search-able list of decisions from the First Circuit, please see: First Circuit, "Searchable Opinions"
|• Freedom of Information Act request for Planned Parenthood grant documents rightfully denied (2015)||Click for summary→|
|The New Hampshire Right to Life organization filed a request to obtain documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) regarding its approval of a 2011 grant to Planned Parenthood for family planning services. HHS claimed that it could find no other provider in the state of New Hampshire to provide these services. In the three-judge panel (William Kayatta, Jeffrey R. Howard and Juan Torruella) opinion, Judge William Kayatta of the First Circuit reasoned that, just because Planned Parenthood had no competition in the state when the grant was made in 2011, it does not follow that the organization has no competition now or will have none in the future. Further, the documents New Hampshire Right to Life requested dealt with Planned Parenthood’s commercial dealings and thus contained commercial information. To make these documents public would give Planned Parenthood’s competitors an unfair advantage, according to Judge Kayatta.
|• Judge rules there is no constitutional right to gay marriage (2014)||Click for summary→|
|Five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Puerto Rico, challenging laws in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that define marriage as between one man and one woman. U.S. District Court Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez ruled in October 2014 that there is no constitutionally protected right to same-sex marriage. Perez-Gimenez said that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Windsor, the landmark case concerning the Defense of Marriage Act, reaffirmed that marriage is in the purview of the states, not the federal government, nor should the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico be forced to recognize same-sex marriages. Perez-Gimenez is just the second of 30 federal judges to rule against same-sex marriage.
| • Stolen gun liability case (2012)|
Judge(s):Bruce Marshall Selya, Jeffrey R. Howard and O. Rogeriee Thompson (Jones v. Secord, 11-1576)
|Click for summary→|
|On July 6, 2012, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the ruling of Judge Paul Barbadoro of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, who held that a New Hampshire man could not be held liable for the use of his handgun in a violent crime. Gail Jones, the mother of the shooting victim, filed a lawsuit alleging that Lawrence Secord was liable for the use of his handgun by his grandson in an armed robbery that resulted in three fatalities in 2007. Secord's gun was stolen by his grandson, who broke into a locked summer cabin to obtain the firearm. Barbadoro agreed with Secord that he had taken proper precautions to secure his firearm. Judge Bruce Marshall Selya agreed with Barbadoro's decision and wrote the opinion of the panel. He stated in the opinion that "[t]he record here, even when construed in the light most flattering to the plaintiff, does not show either a particularized risk of harm or a degree of foreseeability sufficient to animate this exception." Jones told the press she brought the lawsuit to raise awareness of gun storage and risks, telling the press, "[f]irearms are very dangerous when they're in the wrong hands."|
| • Truth defense (2009)|
Judge(s):Juan Torruella (Alan S. Noonan v. Staples, Inc., No. 07-2159)
|Click for summary→|
|On February 13, 2009, Judge Juan Torruella wrote the opinion in Noonan v. Staples, which holds that a finding of libel can be made by a court even when the potentially libelous comment is true. Some legal analysts say this is the first federal court decision in the United States that goes against the precedent that truth is an absolute defense against libel.|
| • Edward and Elaine Brown criminal trial (2007)|
Judge(s):O. Rogeriee Thompson (United States of America V. Edward Brown and Elaine Brown, No. 09-2402/10-1081)
|Click for summary→|
|In 2007, Edward and Elaine Brown were both convicted of refusing to pay federal taxes and received five years in prison. After the U.S. Marshals sent a letter encouraging them to surrender to the government, the Browns took part in a nine-month stand-off at their home with Marshals. Because they acted together, the criminal charges against the couple were combined. The couple was charged with: conspiring to prevent federal officers from discharging their duties, conspiring to assault, resist or impede federal officers, using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, being a felon in possession of a firearm, obstruction of justice and failing to appear at sentencing. The Browns appealed, alleging that the District of Maine committed numerous errors in the first trial. The First Circuit disagreed with that allegation and instead affirmed the District's ruling.|
First Circuit Court of Appeals (1891-present)
Congress established the U.S. circuit courts of appeals for nine judicial circuits in 1891. In 1905, an additional seat was added to the First Circuit and in 1915, the District of Puerto Rico was added to the First Circuit. Additional judicial seats were added in 1978 and two more in 1984.
Circuit Courts for the First Circuit (1802-1891)
The Evarts Act in 1891 added a fourth tier to the federal judiciary by establishing courts of appeals in each circuit. Circuit court judges were reassigned to the court of appeals. The Judicial Code of 1911 abolished the entire circuit court system and established the three-tiered judicial system that is in place today.
Circuit Court for the First Circuit (1801-1802)
The United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit was created by the Judiciary Act of 1801. Prior to this act, appeals were reviewed by a three-judge panel composed of two judges from the Supreme Court and the district court judge who had issued the decision being appealed. It provided the first circuit with three new judges. The act was repealed thirteen months later when a new Congressional majority took power. They returned to the previous system, with slight modifications to lighten the travel load of the Supreme Court Justices.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the First Circuit:
|March 3, 1891||26 Stat. 826||2|
|January 21, 1905||33 Stat. 611||3|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||4|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||6|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
To learn more about the judges who have served on the court, see former federal judges of the First Circuit.
The court is based at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts. The court normally meets in Boston, but for two weeks each year it assembles in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and occasionally at other locations within the circuit.
The John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse was designed by Henry Cobb, whose notable work includes Boston's John Hancock Tower and the headquarters for the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. Construction on the Moakley Federal Courthouse was finished in 1998. The building overlooks Boston Harbor, houses 27 courtrooms and is home to both the First Circuit and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The dominant feature of the building is an 88-foot tall glass wall overlooking a park with views of downtown Boston and the Harbor. You can find directions to the court house on the official website, MoakleyCourthouse.com under the contact tab.
- United States court of appeals
- News: 1st Circuit upholds NH District Court gun liability ruling, July 12, 2012
- United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- Judges of the First Circuit
- Recent opinions from Findlaw
- History of the court
- John Joseph Moakley Courthouse Official Website
- Boston.com, "Court says gun owner not negligent in NH shooting," July 9, 2012
- Justia.com, Opinion, Jones v. Secord
- The Guardian, "With malice aforethought," February 17, 2009
- United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, "United States of America v. Edward Brown and Elaine Brown," January 19, 2012 Scroll to page 6
- Federal Judicial Center, "First Circuit History"
- United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit (1801-1802)
- "Legislative history of the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit" from the Federal Judicial Center
- Federal Judicial Center, "Summary" of the Judicial Code of 1911
- United States Circuit Courts for the First Circuit
- Federal Judicial Center, "Circuit courts history"
- Federal Judicial Center, "Summary of Judiciary Act of 1801"
- Federal Judicial Center, "Summary of Judiciary Act of 1802"
- First Circuit History from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
|Former judges||Stephen Breyer • David Souter • Hugh Bownes • Benjamin Bourne • John A. Lowell • Jeremiah Smith • John Lowell • George Foster Shepley • LeBaron Bradford Colt • William LeBaron Putnam • Francis Cabot Lowell • Frederic Dodge • James Madison Morton • William Schofield • George Weston Anderson • George Hutchins Bingham • Charles Fletcher Johnson • Scott Wilson (Maine) • John Christopher Mahoney • Calvert Magruder • Bailey Aldrich • John Patrick Hartigan • Frank Coffin • Edward McEntee • Peter Woodbury •|
|Former Chief judges|