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

9th Circuit April 2013 News

9th Cir Judge: DOMA, Ore. Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Most of us are waiting to hear the Supreme Court's thoughts on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage. Judge Harry Pregerson, however, already has an opinion.

Judge Pregerson is the chair of the Ninth Circuit's Standing Committee on Federal Public Defenders. Last week, he issued an unpublished opinion addressing DOMA and a similar Oregon law, finding both laws unconstitutional and ordering that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts extend benefits to the spouse of Alison Clark, a Federal Public Defender in Portland, Oregon.

9th Cir Judge Margaret McKeown to Head Fed. Judges Ass'n

If you are a practicing attorney in California, you’ve seen what the budget apocalypse has done to the state courts. Some courthouses have closed in the name of “consolidation,” case numbers no longer match the courts, and lawyers and clients are driving all over Los Angeles before finding the correct venue.

The Federal system isn’t in quite as much distress, but it isn’t exactly thriving either. Sequestration measures are wreaking havoc on certain services provided by the judicial branch. A news release from the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday stated the problem as:

'Hacking' Case, Remanded by 9th, Results in Conviction

I just violated FindLaw's corporate computer policy. Okay, maybe I didn't. I'm not really sure. I never read it. Most people don't. That little nugget of truth was why the Nosal case was so important when it was decided last year.

David Nosal was passed up for a promotion at Korn/Ferry, a headhunting firm. He plotted to start a rival business, and along with his merry band of followers, accessed some data from the company's database. That data was allegedly used to land a contract for the new company.

Credit Bureau Settlement Squashed Over Award to Class Reps

Attorneys have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t represent clients with divergent interests. Class representatives have responsibility to represent their own interests as well as the interests of the other members of the class.

Conditioning a class representative’s award on their approval of the terms of the settlement, therefore would seem to cause a bit of an issue. Will a class representative reject a settlement and risk losing a $5,000 award? What about a situation where the attorneys get $16 million, the class representatives get $5,000 each, and the members of the class get between $26 and $750?

Illegal Reentry Into U.S. Accomplished ... In Handcuffs

A guy walks into a bar … I mean, walks to the border. Seeking to enter the country, he says, “S’up. I’m a United States Citizen.” He is then admitted into the country … in handcuffs.

There were two problems with Mariano Anguiano-Morfin’s assertion. For one, he had previously been removed from the country, and had his lawful residence revoked. The other issue? Falsely claiming that you are a U.S. Citizen is a crime.

His creative defense was delusions of citizenship.

Donald Trump Gets SLAPP'd by 9th; Kozinski Wants to Stop SLAPPing

Tarla Makaeff is an angry, angry woman. She attended a seminar presented by Trump University that focused on investing in foreclosed properties. At the seminar, they convinced her to sign up for more "education," which given the rise in tuition across the United States, was a relative bargain at its $34,995 price tag.

Except, she alleged that it wasn't a bargain, nor was it educational. When she was denied a refund, she declared war on all fronts, from Internet message boards to the Better Business Bureau, and eventually, in the court of law via a class-action deceptive business practices lawsuit.

9th Circuit: Final L.A. Dist. Court Vacancy Filled by O'Connell

Lucky us. Across this fine nation, there are 84 vacancies in federal courts, 68 in U.S. District Courts, and 16 on U.S. Courts of Appeal, according to the fine folks at Courthouse News Service. If you've been following judicial appointments at all in the past couple years, you'll recognize that even when an appointment is made, the Senate refuses to confirm.

Good old gridlock.

Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell finally cleared that gridlock on her second trip through the Senate confirmation process, by a vote of 92-0. That unanimous margin itself illustrates how uncontroversial her appointment was and how ridiculous things are in Washington D.C. The American Bar Association rated her "Unanimously Well Qualified" as well.

Details on 9th Circuit's New Appellate Mentoring Program

New to the Ninth Circuit? New to appellate work in general? The Appellate Mentoring Program is a new service offered by the Ninth Circuit that pairs volunteer mentors with those in need - whether they be new to the practice of law or simply rusty at appellate work.

Though the program will provide general assistance in appellate practice, there will be an emphasis on habeas corpus petitions and immigration law. Mentors must have experience in immigration, habeas petitions, and/or general appellate practice.

The program will be handled through Appellate Lawyer Representatives, who will recruit volunteer mentors and play matchmaker with incoming requests from mentees. The Ninth Circuit will include information on the program in the case opening materials and, when necessary, suggest the program to attorneys who could use the help.

False Arrest Case Returns to 9th Over Statutory Interpret... Zzz

Thirteen years ago, Erris Edgerly was standing alone in a playground located in a housing project in San Francisco. It turns out, intentionally or not, that he may have been trespassing. He was not a resident of the housing project and was standing in a fenced-in area with "No Trespassing" signs displayed frequently and prominently.

What happens when one commits the offense of trespassing? For a first-timer, it is a mere infraction - which should mean "ticket and release." Instead, he was taken to the police station, searched, and when no contraband was found, he was finally released with a ticket.

Then, he sued.

CA's Central Valley Drainage Problem Gets No Help from 9th Cir.

In the 1960s, some brilliant individual decided that, with all of the Central Valley desert being, well, deserted, it would be a desirable idea to drench the place in water and start growing crops. Congress paid for irrigation contingent on either California paying for drainage, or the water being dumped in the Contra Costa delta.

Original plans to dump the toxic drainage in the S.F. Bay and the delta were thwarted because, well, it’s freaking San Francisco. Could you choose a less optimal place to kill mother nature?

No JMOL, Immunity for Cop Who Emptied a Clip in Unarmed Suspect

Karen Eklund crossed the Bay Bridge at over 100 miles per hour. She then took to the surface streets of San Francisco at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, which is pretty impressive considering the poor condition and curviness of some of SF's roads. Eventually, with police officers in tow, she pulled into a cul-de-sac and was trapped.

Her response was neither rational nor polite: she rammed the police cars with her getaway vehicle. Officer Stephen Markgraf ran up to the passenger side of the vehicle and noticed that she was unarmed. Nonetheless she yelled, "F*** you" and reversed into the cop car two more times.

Why is Judge Richard Cebull Retiring?

U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull is retiring next month in the wake of the fallout from a racist joke he emailed from an official government account. (Brief thanks, Howard Bashman at How Appealing.)

Judge Cebull, formerly the Chief District Judge for Montana, transitioned to senior judicial status last month, which guaranteed him full salary with a reduced caseload, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski announced in a press release that Judge Cebull would be retiring effective May 3.

Indian Supporters File Amicus Briefs in Montana Voting Case

Indian tribes in Montana say that the time and cost associated with voting infringes on their right to vote. Last year, 15 Indians from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations filed a lawsuit claiming that the long distances they must drive for early voting and late registration leaves them disadvantaged compared to white voters, The Associated Press reports.

At that time, however, District Judge Richard Cebull refused to grant an emergency order to force officials to provide satellite voting on Montana reservations. Judge Cebull reasoned that, regardless of whether voting discrimination exists, the plaintiffs did not show they were unable to vote for the candidates of their choice.

In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal.