On October 4th, 2023, President Joe Biden nominated Seth R. Aframe to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Aframe currently serves as the Criminal Division Chief in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire.
Seth R. Aframe was born in 1974 in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned his B.A from Tufts University in 1996 and his J.D from Georgetown University Law Center in 1999.
Mr. Aframe began his legal career in 1999 as a law clerk to Justice Judith A. Cowin of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Aframe then joined Boston law firm Choate Hall & Steward as an associate. At Choate, Aframe represented large- and medium-sized companies involved in employment-related disputes before courts and administrative agencies. Aframe returned to clerking in 2003 under Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, remaining until 2007. As a clerk, Aframe drafted opinions on a variety of civil and criminal topics, reviewed opinions written by other judges, and assisted in preparation for oral arguments.
Following his federal appellate clerkship, Aframe joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire as an Assistant United States Attorney. There, Aframe litigated medical malpractice, personal injury, administrative law, and employment discrimination cases. He also handled civil asset forfeiture matters. In 2010, Aframe was appointed to serve as the USAO’s Criminal Division Appellate Chief.
As Appellate Chief, Aframe oversaw and briefed cases before the First Circuit. In addition to his appellate responsibilities, Aframe managed an active criminal docket, which included 18 trials bringing charges on matters from controlled substances to child exploitation to firearms-law violations. In 2022, Aframe was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division; in 2023, he was promoted to Criminal Division Chief.
The following cases are representative of Aframe’s legal career:
- United States v. Smith aff’d, 919 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2019); United States v. Smith, 20-cv-1034 (D.N.H.) (Laplante, J.) (§ 2255). The defendant was charged with producing child pornography in the course of raping a three-year-old girl, capturing the encounter on video using Google Glasses. Aframe navigated pre-trial motions to suppress stemming from the question whether law enforcement had acted properly in seizing the defendant’s computer and obtaining his confession. Aframe both briefed and argued these issues. At trial, he examined government witnesses, cross-examined the defendant, and delivered the closing argument and rebuttal. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 600 months of imprisonment. On appeal, Smith raised Fourth Amendment concerns surrounding the revocation of the implied right for law enforcement to enter a home and whether violation of that right taints a defendant’s consent to provide access to electronics. Aframe successfully secured affirmation of the trial court ruling.
- United States v. Ackell, 907 F.3d 67 (1st Cir. 2018). In Ackell, the defendant was charged with cyberstalking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A. At issue: Using of a computer to extort an individual into an ongoing online relationship by threatening to publish sexually explicit photographs of the victim. Aframe successfully handled the appeal, based in the defendant’s claim that the federal cyberstalking statute was overbroad and thus invalid under the First Amendment. Mr. Aframe briefed and argued the USAO’s response, and the First Circuit affirmed the conviction.
- United States v. Carpentino, 17-cr-157-PB (D.N.H.) (Barbodoro, J.) (trial), aff’d, 948 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 2020). The defendant was charged with taking a 14-year-old, hearing-impaired female from New Hampshire to Vermont to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), prohibiting the interstate transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Pre-trial, Aframe defeated the defendant’s motion to suppress his confession on the ground that it was obtained in violation of his Miranda rights. Aframe then delivered the USAO’s opening statement and examined the victim. He also examined other government witnesses and cross-examined defense witnesses. The defendant was sentenced to 384 months’ imprisonment.
Professional Activities and Accolades
For the past eight years, Mr. Aframe has been the USAO’s representative for the District of New Hampshire’s alternative drug court program, LASER (Law-abiding, Sober, Employed, Responsible). LASER permits some low and mid-level drug defendants to participate in a year-long program to gain sobriety and life skills. Aframe is involved in deciding who should be admitted to the program and making recommendations to the United States Attorney whether to reduce charges.
Aframe has taught First Amendment law, constitutional law, appellate advocacy, and conflicts of law at the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce School of Law. He has also taught multiple continuing legal education classes for the New Hampshire Bar Association and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Aframe volunteers for Civics 603, a program that offers students in grades 5-12 an inside look at how the court system works through meetings with state court officials, mock trials, and mock appellate oral arguments. While at Choate Hall & Stewart, Mr. Aframe also completed pro bono work assisting asylum seekers from Liberia in completing asylum applications and preparing them for interviews before immigration officials.