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


Arizona's identity theft laws are not facially preempted by federal immigration law, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Monday. The state's identity theft laws prohibit the use of a false identity to obtain employment. The laws had been used by the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, to raid and arrest hundreds immigrants at their workplace.

A district court had ruled that the identity theft laws were likely to be unconstitutional last year, but the Ninth circuit disagreed, noting that Arizona's laws would not conflict with federal immigration law when applied to American citizens. The ruling raises the possibility that Sheriff Arpaio's workplace raids could recommence soon.

9th Circuit Affirms Life Sentence Despite 'Reclassification'

A state's post-conviction reclassification of a crime from a felony to misdemeanor has no bearing on a federal statute's sentencing guidelines, the Ninth Circuit said recently. Even though a criminal might get relief from his felony status years after the fact by the state, federal sentencing rules will still look to the time of conviction in meting out the proper punishment.

Criminal law practitioners would do well to educate their clients on the finer nuances that blend federal and state criminal law.

Free Speech on College Campus Addressed in 9th Cir. Ruling

Controversy has been rumbling at Fresno State since 2010 when conservative student Neil O'Brien started a chapter of Young Americans for Liberty at the school and allegedly began "harassing" professors in the Latin American Studies department there.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit effectively upheld Fresno State's view that O'Brien had expressed harassing speech. But the court also let stand his count against the school on the grounds that it retaliated against him for his conduct. The opinion has gotten mixed reactions from both sides.

Courts Can't Forcibly Medicate to Make a Defendant Stand Trial

Can the court force criminal defendants to take medication to make them competent to stand trial? Apparently, no. At least, not in the Ninth Circuit in this particular case.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that a lower district judge should not have allowed the forcible medication of defendant Nna Alpha Onuoha, the former LAX security officer who was accused of making threatening calls over the airport's phone system, calling for authorities to evacuate. Why? Because it wasn't in his best medical interests.

Consider it a silver lining: even if your law license is suspended and you're so broke former clients are now your creditors, you can still discharge that client debt in bankruptcy.

That's the conclusion of the Ninth Circuit, which ruled last Thursday that a suspended California lawyer could discharge in bankruptcy the $6,000 she owed a former client for unearned legal fees.

Uber Lawsuit: Chen's Class Certification to Be Reviewed by 9th Cir.

Remember how it seemed that the world was coming to and end in the case of O'Connor v. Uber when District Court Judge Chen certified a class of Uber drivers that numbered approximately 150,000? Uber was not too happy about that and appealed the class certification. They got denied once.

Just Kidding! It looks like the Ninth Circuit will be hearing that issue after all. It should be emphasized that the challenge to certification does not stop the case, but a decertification of the class would be a major step back for Uber plaintiffs who've been pushing for employee status and labor protections.

Arizona can't deny driver's licenses to so-called "dreamers," young, undocumented immigrants with work permits and protection from deportation, but not legal status. Those dreamers (whose name comes from the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) are noncitizens who were brought to the United States by their parents. Under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, such dreamers are entitled to stay and work in the country, and given documentation to help them do so.

But after the DACA program was established, the Arizona government moved quickly to counteract the program, rejecting DACA documents when submitted for a driver's license. That policy of rejection violates the authority of the federal government, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. This is the second time the policy has been defeated in the Ninth Circuit. Will it be the last?

Lawyer Discipline Challenge Violated Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

A California attorney Marilyn Sue Scheer doesn't give up easily. When a dispute with a client led to discipline from the California State Bar, Scheer refused to comply. When her refusal led to suspension, Scheer sued. When the California Supreme Court ruled against her, Scheer moved the fight over to the federal courts.

And it was there, in the Ninth Circuit, that Scheer lost again on Monday, as the Ninth reminded her that only the Supreme Court could hear appeals from "a state-court loser."

San Diego 'Bite and Hold' Case Will Proceed to Trial: 9th Cir.

Are the San Diego's policies employing canine units to "bite and hold" an unconstitutional violation of civil rights? Reasonable minds may disagree, and that is why the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit allowing the suit to move forward to trial.

However your opinion may lean on this issue -- we're almost sure that it didn't help when the police officer told the victim that she was "very lucky," because the dog "could have ripped [her] face off."

The Tohono O'odham Nation did not violate a gaming compact between it and the state of Arizona when it planned to build a casino in Glendale, the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday. Arizona and two other tribes claimed that the tribe's casino plans were in violation of a 2002 gaming compact between the tribe and the state, which allowed gaming on native land but barred casinos on lands taking into trust after 1988. But, that bar did not extend to lands acquired as part of a settlement of a land claim, the court ruled, allowing the casino to go forward.

The ruling is the 19th federal court decision in favor of the project, The Arizona Republic reports. But despite the tribes' winning streak, continued litigation is expected.