Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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David Efron and Madeleine Candelario were involved in a divorce proceeding and a pending marital property division proceeding before the superior court of Puerto Rico. In the divorce proceeding, the superior court ordered Efron, the sole owner of the Law Offices of David Efron, P.C. (the Efron Firm), to pay almost $5.5 million plus interest to Candelario. When Efron refused to pay, Candelario resorted to garnishing funds owned by Efron. In a separate case, the Efron Firm secured a settlement for its clients, and the defendants deposited the Efron Firm’s attorney’s fees in the federal district court registry. In the meantime, in the divorce proceeding, the court issued an order garnishing amounts owed to Efron. Candelario requested that the district court transfer the amounts deposited in the district court registry pursuant to the settlement in the separate case. The superior court granted the request. The First Circuit reversed, holding that funds in the federal court registries are protected under the doctrine of custodia legis from garnishment or attachment by a state court. Remanded. View "Law Offices of David Efron, PC v. Candelario" on Justia Law

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A Massachusetts district court awarded damages to Dawn Irish arising out of her divorce from Craig Irish and the separation agreement filed in their divorce proceeding. Dawn later filed a complaint in federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction, alleging various contract, tort, and fraud claims against Craig for Craig’s alleged failure to fully disclose his assets or deal in good faith during the negotiation of the parties’ separation agreement. The federal court exercised jurisdiction over the claims, and Craig appealed. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the domestic relations exception to federal diversity jurisdiction. Remanded for dismissal of the action, with prejudice as to federal jurisdiction and without prejudice as to the assertion of claim in an appropriate state court. View "Irish v. Irish" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, a group of individuals and advocacy groups, filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of Article 68 of the Civil Code of Puerto Rico and other laws of the Commonwealth that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. After the lower court dismissed Petitioners’ claims, the United States Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges. All parties subsequently agreed that the Commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The First Circuit agreed and vacated the judgment. On remand, however, the district court did not enter judgment in favor of Petitioners but, instead, issued a memorandum concluding that the Commonwealth’s ban was not unconstitutional because the “right to same-sex marriage” had not been determined to apply in Puerto Rico. Petitioners requested a writ of mandamus requiring the district court to enter judgment in their favor striking down the ban as unconstitutional. Respondents moved for leave to join in Petitioners’ request. The First Circuit granted Petitioners’ petition for writ of mandamus and Respondents’ motion to join in the petition, holding that the district court erred in ruling that the ban is not unconstitutional and directly contradicted the First Circuit’s mandate and compounded its error by failing to enter a final judgment to enable an appeal in ordinary course. View "In re Conde-Vidal" on Justia Law