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

Court Splits Baby Food Case Against Gerber

A federal appeals court threw out claims that Gerber deceived consumers about its baby food, but said the plaintiff may sue for unfair competition.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded Bruton v. Gerber Food Products. The appeals panel said the company's labels were not likely to deceive the public about the quality of its baby food.

However, the plaintiff may have a claim that the labels violated California's Unfair Competition Law.

In a recent decision by a three judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, judges that use Twitter got a little bit more clarity on when Tweeting violates judicial ethics.

The case involved an appeal of a motion for relief from judgment filed by Sierra Pacific Industries, a lumber producer, after a settlement related to a 2007 wildfire. Sierra, for their appeal, alleged that the district court erred in refusing to grant relief from the settlement that the company agreed to with the government.

The underlying motion for relief was based on a whole host of alleged fraudulent conduct on the part of the government lawyers, and curiously, on one tweet from an anonymous account, allegedly controlled by Judge Shubb, who presided over the motion.

Monkey Can't Get Money From Selfies

It's hard to report this story with a straight face. I mean, even the monkey was smiling.

If you haven't seen them before, the pictures are definitely worth seeing. The macaque, who snapped his own selfies, has a great simian smile.

According to a federal judge, however, the animal doesn't have a copyright to the photos. It's not a joke, although more than a few lawyers say it is.

Family's Claim Revived Against Spanish Museum With Nazi-Looted Painting

How often does a U.S. trial judge get to decide a Spanish case over artwork painted by the French impressionist Camille Pissarro in 1897?

Once, unless of course the case is remanded. That's what is happening in the case of Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed and remanded the case to find out whether a Spanish museum lawfully acquired the artwork from the plaintiffs' great grandmother. The case turned, in part, on one word.

Court Affirms Sentence of Hacker-Journalist

For a twisted technology crime, former journalist Matthew Keys got a simple decision from an appeals court on his conviction and two-year sentence.

Taking only six pages to state the facts, law, and conclusion against the convicted hacker, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. His lawyers had tried to persuade the court that Keys did not cause any damage.

"Keys makes a scattershot of arguments concerning damage and loss, none of which is persuasive," the court said in United States of America v. Keys, an unpublished opinion.

Federal Court litigation is a marathon, not a sprint. As any marathon runner knows, you can't run the race if you haven't prepared. Fortunately for attorneys, preparing a case for trial doesn't require any actual running, though it can sure feel like a workout sometimes.

When prepping a case for trial, or just filing, even experienced federal court litigators need to have their recollections refreshed on proper civil procedure. While younger, inexperienced lawyers might choose to start with a web search, experienced practitioners will turn to the federal practice guide that has become an industry standard at any law firm worth its weight in billables: The Rutter Group's Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, National Edition.

California's 30-Day Impound Law Violates 4th Amendment

If police impound your client's car for driving on a suspended license, chances are the police won't give it back until the client pays a hefty fine and penalties.

In California, it also means the client won't get the car for 30 days. Or so it used to be, until one feisty driver sued the police for violating her Fourth Amendment rights.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said police unlawfully held onto a driver's car after she presented a valid driver's license and offered to pay the fees. The court in Brewster v. Beck said she was entitled to reclaim her property and pursue damages.

9th Circuit Affirms California's Ban on Liquor Store Ads

Reversing its previous decision, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed California's ban on advertising by alcohol manufacturers and wholesalers in liquor stores.

The en banc court reversed an earlier three-judge panel in the case. Ruling 10-1 in Retail Digital Network v. Prieto, the majority said the ban did not violate the advertiser's commercial speech rights to place ads in liquor stores under California Business and Professions Code Section 25503(h).

"This is not the first time we have considered such a challenge Section 25503(h)," Judge Richard Paez wrote for the court. "Thirty years ago, in Actmedia, Inc. v. Stroh, 830 F.2d 957 (9th Cir. 1986), we rejected a First Amendment challenge to that provision."

9th Hands Trump Another Travel Ban Loss

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to President Trump's travel ban orders, saying that immigration policy is "not a one-person show."

"We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress," the court said in State of Hawaii v. Trump.

It is the second court of appeals to rule against the president's latest travel ban. The first appellate decision, issued by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judges Can't Routinely Shackle Defendants

A federal appeals court ruled that judges cannot shackle criminal defendants routinely, and must consider each defendant's circumstances on a case-by-case basis before imposing the restraints.

In a split decision, the majority of the en banc panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it is unconstitutional to shackle defendants in court because it contravenes their presumption of innocence. It doesn't matter whether the proceeding is before a jury, a judge, or in a routine appearance.

"A presumptively innocent defendant has the right to be treated with respect and dignity in a public courtroom, not like a bear on a chain," the court said in United States v. Sanchez-Gomez.