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


Bee advocates, environmentalists, and farmers suffered a stinging defeat in federal court last week, when the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that EPA guidance over pesticide-coated seeds is not subject to legal review.

Bees are currently suffering unprecedented die offs, with beekeepers losing 44 percent of their bees last year. Some have pointed to neonicotinoid pesticides as a likely contributor to the deaths. Those same pesticides are often applied directly to seeds, a practice the EPA generally exempts from normal pesticide regulations. Recent guidance to that effect, given to EPA inspectors, led the apiarists and others to sue, arguing that the guidance qualified as unlawful agency action under the Administrative Procedures Act.

Woman Shot by Police for Holding a Knife Can Bring Excessive Force Claim

An Arizona police officer must stand trial for shooting a woman who was walking in her driveway with a knife, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a lower court that had dismissed the case on a motion for summary judgment. Judge William K. Sessions III said a jury should decide whether the officer used excessive force. He also said the officer was not, without further proceedings in the excessive force case, entitled to immunity.

"(A) jury ... could find that she had a constitutional right to walk down her driveway holding a knife without being shot," Sessions said in the unanimous decision.

A county sheriff accused of creating a sexually hostile work environment by hugging and kissing a coworker isn't entitled to summary judgement, the Ninth Circuit has ruled. Yolo County Sheriff Edward G. Prieto was accused by Victoria Zetwick, a correctional sergeant, of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act based on allegedly over a hundred "unwelcome hugs and/or kisses" over a 12-year period.

The district court had granted Prieto's motion for summary judgment, finding that the accused conduct was not severe or pervasive enough to establish a hostile work environment, but the unanimous three-judge Ninth Circuit panel reversed in an unpublished opinion, ruling that a reasonable jury could find Prieto's conduct to have violated the law.

"The Lake Tahoe Region is an area of unmatched beauty surrounding the largest alpine lake in North America," Judge Mary M. Schroeder writes at the beginning of a recent Ninth Circuit opinion. And she couldn't be more on point. With its deep-blue waters, towering trees, and majestic mountain peaks, Lake Tahoe is one of the great natural wonders of the American West. Even the Donners must have marveled at their sublime surroundings as they succumbed to cannibalism among Tahoe's alpine slopes.

But that beauty has brought the Tahoe area incredible popularity, popularity which risks burying the area's natural charms under vacation rentals and ski resorts. To help manage that growth, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency released, in 2012, the first comprehensive update to environmental regulations since the 1980's. And though that regional development plan may not have gone as far as environmentalists would have wanted, its environmental impact statement did not violate the requirements of the law, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday.

The Pacific bearded seal's future is on thin ice, literally and figuratively. The seals, known for their long, mustache-like whiskers, live and feed off the ice flows that cover the shallow waters off the coast of Alaska and the Arctic. Those flows are expected to decline dramatically, shrinking as climate change drives temperatures north. By 2095, loss of ice will leave the Okhotsk and Beringia bearded seal population segments endangered, according to estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

As a result of the threat posed by climate change, NFMS listed the seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a designation that comes with significant protections. And that listing, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Monday, was wholly allowable, rejecting a challenge that the listing was too speculative.

A Ninth Circuit panel recently upheld a new California law that requires licensed pregnancy clinics to inform women about publicly funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion services. The law was passed after the state legislature found that women often did not know about the public services available to them and that religious clinics misled them about their options.

The court rejected religious clinics' contention that the law violated their right to free speech and freedom of religion last week, ruling that the state's disclosure law did not violate the clinics' rights.

If you're a legal professional in the Evergreen State, we've got some good news for you. FindLaw just launched its new Washington Revised Code and Constitution section, bringing you the best source for Washington codes you can find.

So if you're wondering about Washington's civil procedure laws or the state's probate law, wonder no more. FindLaw's here to help you out -- for free.

Judge Lucy Koh won't be asking attorneys if they're smoking crack from her seat on the District Court of the Northern District of California much longer. That's because Judge Koh is on her way up -- up to the Ninth Circuit.

Koh, who has been one of the most important and entertaining judges in Silicon Valley for years, was moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 13 to 7, several months after she was originally nominated in February. That leaves only a full vote in the Senate standing between Koh and her spot on the Ninth Circuit.

Just two days after Labor Day, the Ninth Circuit has ruled against Uber drivers in a decision that could seriously limit their ability to pursue class actions against the company. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Uber's driver contracts, which include causes requiring individual arbitration of disputes, were not unconscionable and could be enforced against the drivers.

The ruling comes in response to a driver class action over background checks, not the massive employee misclassification class action the company also faces, but the Ninth's decision could have significant implications for those plaintiffs as well.

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.