U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit News and Information Blog

U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Congress may view cockfighting as vile and depraved. It may be a "scourge that warrants prosecution." It is, no doubt, cruel and reprehensible. But it might not justify deportation as a crime of moral turpitude, the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday.

The ruling comes after the Department of Homeland Security began removal proceedings against Agustin Ortega-Lopez, following his misdemeanor conviction for cockfighting, an act his immigration judge likened to child abuse and for which that IJ refused to cancel his removal. While cockfighting may be condemnable, the Ninth Circuit determined, it's questionable whether Ortega-Lopez's misdemeanor conviction involved the kind of moral turpitude that would justify removing him from the country and from his three children.

Life just got a little sunnier for legal practitioners in Alaska. FindLaw just launched its new Alaska Statutes and Constitution section, bringing the best, easiest-to-use Alaska codes to legal professionals in the land of the midnight sun.

So, if you need to know about agricultural loans in Anchorage or solicitation laws in Seward, FindLaw has you covered. And it's all free.

9th Circuit OKs Medical Weed Against DOJ

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit has unanimously found in favor medical marijuana users by declaring that DOJ prosecutions of users is forbidden under Consolidated Appropriations Act sec. 542.

In plain English, the Ninth Circuit said: "DOJ, stop wasting money going after otherwise state-law observant medical pot users."

Hawaii's Open Primary Laws Are Constitutional, 9th Circuit Rules

The Democratic Party has failed to prove that Hawaii's open primary system "severely burdens" the party's associational rights, according to the Independent Voter Project. The open primary system allows members formally registered with another party to vote for nominees outside of party lines.

The decision is the correct one. The Democratic Part of Hawaii brought a rather flimsy argument that was rightfully dismissed. After all, how can the opportunity to vote outside of one's typical associated group be a violation of one's right to freely associate? Isn't that encouraging free association?

9th Cir: Miwok Indians Did Not Waive Sovereign Immunity

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians did not inadvertently waive their sovereign immunity by removing a state court matter into a federal court. This is largely because such a move did not constitute a clean and unequivocal waiver.

With or without a trial, the ruling is a landmark victory for various Native American nations' sovereignty.

If the sun and surf weren't good enough, things just got a little better in America's youngest state. The world's number one legal website (you're looking at it) now offers Hawaii's revised statutes and constitution online, for free.

So if you need to know who can sell used cars in Honolulu, what can happen if you steal cable on the Big Island, or are just wondering who owns the state's subterranean minerals, FindLaw has you covered.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act can't be used against companies that "dispose" of hazardous substances through air pollution, the Ninth Circuit ruled last week, in a case of first impression.

The State of Washington and Colville Tribes had sought to use CERCLA, also known as the Superfund Act, against a Canadian smelter that had released hazardous pollution into the air, pollution which was later deposited in Washington. But, the Ninth ruled, that smelter cannot be considered a person who "arranged for disposal" of hazardous substances under that law.

'Not a Church' -- Dignity Health Plan Doesn't Qualify for ERISA Exception

In what can be fairly called a legal nice try, the Ninth Circuit's Court of Appeals has ruled that Dignity Health's pension plan does not qualify for ERISA's church plan exemption.

It's a a ruling that is so far consistent with the findings of other courts on the subject. Only this time, it looked like it could have gone either way from the start. After all, Dignity Health at least started out as a church.

Porn Star's Libel Suit Survives Dismissal at the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit greenlit a defamation lawsuit brought against the British tabloid Daily Mail Online by the former soft-core porn model Danni Ashe.

It's a bit of a victory for those "public figures" who generally fight an uphill battle with regards to defamation suits.

By sending out a wall of sound through the oceans, Navy sonar can detect enemy ships hundreds of miles away, day or night, in weather fair or foul. But that blast of sound can be damaging to the ocean's inhabitants, deafening whales and disturbing other marine mammals. Some marine mammals swim hundreds of miles to escape sonar, others may bleed from their eyes or ears, and some beach themselves on shore to get away from the harsh sounds.

And while the Navy's current peacetime sonar use makes efforts to reduce those impacts, it does not go far enough, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Friday, finding that government approvals for the sonar program violated the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.