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


Last year, we brought you the bizarre story of an FBI sting into illegal gambling at some of the private villas at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. But how did the FBI get the probable cause necessary to support search warrants leading to their arrest?

Illegally, according to lawyer and SCOTUSblog co-founder Tom Goldstein, who represents Wei Seng Phua, one of the defendants. Last week, a federal district court agreed with Goldstein that  evidence obtained from the illegal search must be suppressed.

Marijuana will remain on the federal list of Schedule I drugs, next to heroin and LSD. After a five day evidentiary trial, the District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion to dismiss an indictment involving marijuana growing, which challenged the classification was unconstitutional.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, Schedule I drugs are those which have a high potential of abuse and "no currently accepted medical use." Defense lawyers for 16 men accused of growing marijuana challenged the listing of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, arguing that it violated the Tenth Amendment's limitations on federal power. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 23 states.

The Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court ruling granting summary judgment to Sears in a California disability law dispute. The district court had ruled that employee presented no triable claims because the evidence he offered was all self-serving.

Of course it was, the Ninth ruled when reversing. Self-serving evidence, consisting here of uncorroborated recollections, may not be of much weight to a trier of fact, but it cannot be rejected outright at the summary judgment stage.

Probationers in the great state of Arizona can't be denied their right to toke up -- for medical reasons! -- according to the state's Supreme Court. Nor can the state condition plea agreements on one's abstention from medical marijuana.

In two cases decided on Tuesday, the court recognized the "broad grant of immunity" created when the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed by public referendum five years ago. AMMA prohibits penalizing qualified medical use or possession in any way. That includes forbidding its use in probation and plea agreements, the court held.

If you're an ERISA lawyer or a history nerd, the Ninth Circuit has a case just for you.

Administrators of a California firefighters' pension plan breached their trust duty when they paid their own fees and expenses from the plan's assets, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. That's some classic self-dealing, according to the court, and a breach of the administrators' fiduciary duty.

Corporations and other non-human associations don't have a First Amendment right to serve as official proponents of ballot initiatives, the Ninth Circuit held in a unanimous en banc ruling last Friday. The case involved a local law in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, which required that proponents of ballot measures be electors -- in other words, actual humans.

With corporate personhood extending at least to encompass political speech, via political spending, commentators wondered if that personhood could stretch to actual legislative power. The Ninth wasn't willing to take things that far.

The case continues the process of clarifying the political rights afforded corporations following the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United.

Online credit card scammers must pay $26 million following an FTC action over the scheme. The U.S. District Court of Nevada ruled that Cardflex, Blaze Processing, Mach I Merchanting and their officers, operating together through a series of iWorks websites, had fraudulently and illegally bilked consumers out of millions of dollars.

The iWorks scam promised consumers that they could get rich quick through online advertising and obtain government grants to pay off personal debts. Instead, consumers were enrolled in membership plans and repeatedly charged for services that were not delivered.

The Supreme Court won't be hearing an appeal from high school students who sued after school administrators asked them to remove American flag T-shirts or take excused leave. That leaves intact the Ninth Circuit's ruling from a year ago, holding that the school did not violate the students' rights when it asked them to change their clothing in an attempt to avoid violence.

Plaintiffs, three students from Morgan Hill in northern California, had argued that their First Amendment free speech rights were violated when they were asked to cover up their flags on Cinco de Mayo while students in Mexican flags were not.

Animal welfare advocates have filed two lawsuits challenging the transfer of a pair of Asian elephants from a zoo in Seattle to Oklahoma City, claiming the move violates the state constitution and federal Endangered Species Act.

The transfer comes after years of controversy surrounding the fate of Seattle's elephants. The Seattle zoo, Woodland Park, agreed to end its elephant display last year, following several years of public pressure. Now, the future home of the elephants is subject to contention. The zoo plans on transferring them to Oklahoma City, where they would be housed in a recent addition to that city's zoo, while advocates argue the elephants should be sent to a sanctuary.

Customer service workers at car dealerships aren't exempt from the FLSA's overtime protections, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. The court's unanimous holding revived a lawsuit seeking unpaid overtime brought by four "service advisers" at a Mercedes Benz dealership in California.

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum pay and overtime requirements, but exempts many workers, such as managers and commissioned sales employees. The Ninth Circuit's ruling that dealership customer service workers don't fall under one of the Act's exceptions stands in opposition to holdings by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits, creating a new FLSA circuit split.