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Bar News - July 20, 2016


US District Court Decision Listing

June 2016

* Published

28 U.S.C. § 2255

6/3/16
Paladin v. United States
Case No. 16-cv-30-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 92

In 2010, Patricio Paladin was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, three counts of cocaine distribution, and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison on the conspiracy count, based upon the quantity of cocaine at issue, and the fact that this was Paladin’s third felony drug conviction. He was sentenced to 300 months in prison on each of the four other counts, all to run concurrently. Paladin, proceeding pro se, subsequently brought a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence. The court denied Paladin’s motion, concluding that (1) the government was not required to list Paladin’s prior convictions in the indictment, or prove those convictions to the jury, (2) the jury instructions adequately informed the jury that it had to find drug weight beyond a reasonable doubt, (3) the jury was not required to find facts that increased Paladin’s guideline sentencing range, and (4) Paladin was subject to enhanced sentences on the cocaine distribution charges, based upon his two prior felony drug convictions, and was not entitled to resentencing on those counts. 23 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


IMMIGRATION

6/7/16
Kamal Ali and Israa Hassan v. United States of America, et al.
Case No. 15-cv-201-AJ, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 098

Kamal Ali (a Sudanese citizen) and Israa Hassan (an American citizen) married in 2003. Soon after, Hassan filed an I-130 visa petition on behalf of her new husband. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied Hassan’s petition on the basis that Ali had previously entered into a marriage for the purpose of evading immigration laws. The USCIS’s decision was later upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The plaintiffs filed suit in this court contending that the government’s decision was not supported by the administrative record and violated due process. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments and concluded that the USCIS and BIA’s decisions were supported by a rational view of the record and the plaintiffs failed to establish that they were deprived due process. The court therefore granted the government’s motion for summary judgment. 27 pages. Magistrate Judge Andrea K. Johnstone.


FEDERAL EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION ACT, 5 U.S.C. § 8128(b)

6/22/16
Diane Renzi v. Thomas E. Perez, Secretary, U.S. Dep’t of Labor
Case No. 16-cv-039-JD, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 103

Renzi filed a complaint, arising from the denial of her claim for FECA compensation benefits. She alleged that in denying her claim the OWCP violated a FECA mandate and her rights to due process and equal protection. The Secretary moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under § 8128(b). The court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that the First Circuit did not recognize an exception to § 8128(b) based on a statutory mandate and that Renzi’s constitutional claims were wholly devoid of merit. 15 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.


MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

6/23/16
Ralph Faiella v. Green Tree Servicing LLC and Federal National Mortgage Association
Case No. 16-cv-008-JD, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 105

Faiella brought a plea of title action in state superior court, alleging a claim for wrongful foreclosure. The defendants removed the plea of title action to this court. Faiella moved to remand the action to state court, arguing that it was merely part of a possessory action pending in state district court. The court denied the motion to remand, holding that the plea of title action was removable. Green Tree Servicing LLC also moved to dismiss Faiella’s wrongful foreclosure claim against it on the ground that it was not a party to the foreclosure sale. The court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that the duties of a foreclosing mortgagee do not extend to parties that did not participate in the foreclosure sale. 16 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.


SOCIAL SECURITY

6/23/16
Dennis M. Mounce v. Colvin
Case No. 10-cv-560-PB; Opinion No. 2016 DNH 106

Elizabeth Jones, the attorney for Social Security claimant Dennis Mounce, filed a motion for an award of attorney’s fees of $37,953.63 for her work representing Mounce in an appeal to this court. Mounce and the Social Security Commissioner objected to this fee as unreasonably high. Jones based her request for fees on either of three fee agreements she signed with Mounce over the course of seven years of representation before the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the court. The fee agreements each had different provisions covering Jones’s compensation, which Jones argued entitled her to 25% of Mounce’s past-due disability benefits. Complicating matters, the agreements appeared to cover Jones’s representation before the SSA, but not the court. After explaining the statutory background for attorney’s fees, the court ordered the parties to submit further briefing on whether Jones’s fee agreements were enforceable, since they only appeared to address her work before the SSA. 20 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


6/23/16
Tracy Lavoie v. Colvin
Case No. 15-cv-209-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 107

Claimant appealed the Social Security Administration’s denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. She argued, among other things, that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) erred in considering her major depressive disorder. In particular, she argued that the ALJ improperly concluded, at step two of the sequential evaluation process, that her depression was a non-severe impairment, and then failed to consider her depression throughout the remainder of the analytic process. The court concluded that the ALJ’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, because the ALJ did not adequately address the claimant’s depression in calculating her residual functional capacity. The court therefore granted the claimant’s motion, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. 14 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

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