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9th Circuit December 2013 News

L.A. Hotel Records Law Nixed Over Hotel's Privacy Rights

A Los Angeles ordinance, which requires hotels to keep, and make available for inspection at any time, detailed records of guests' names, addresses, number of party members, make, model, and license plate number of guests' vehicles, date and time of arrival, time of scheduled departure, cholesterol level, room number, rate charged, payment method, amount collected, and more (extra information is required for those who pay cash, don't make reservations, or rent for less than 12 hours), has been struck down by an en banc Ninth Circuit.

The ruling has nothing to do with guests' privacy rights, however. After all, if you give the information to a third-party, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. (Should that still apply if the ordinance requires innkeepers to give guests' figurative cavity searches upon check-in? Give us your info, or sleep on Skid Row. Not much of a choice, is it?) The district court held that the hotels couldn't assert their guests' privacy rights. A Ninth Circuit panel agreed.

Parties Agree: Dismiss Moot Hawaii Gay Marriage Case

Ever read an argument that's been badly paraphrased? We're not sure who submitted the first draft between Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's counsel or the plaintiffs' counsel, but the two parties' briefs were nearly identical, except the plaintiffs' version was far more clear.

Either way, here's the gist of both: It's over, gay marriage is legal in Hawaii, and the case should be dismissed -- with conditions.

Detective Criticized by 9th Cir. Won't Testify in Milke Retrial

She spent more than two decades on death row before the Ninth Circuit set her free because of questions about the investigating detective's credibility. Now, thanks to those questions, the case against her is unraveling.

Deborah Milke was convicted in 1991 of having her 4-year-old son murdered. But decades later, Milke was set free after the Ninth Circuit granted habeas, citing multiple findings by lower courts of Detective Hector Saldate's misconduct in other cases.

Now, after the trial court today allowed Saldate to invoke his right against self-incrimination, the prosecution is scrambling to gather enough evidence to retry the case, 20 years later.

Chief Judge Kozinski Urges Action on Brady Violation 'Epidemic'

Dissents are worthless, right? After all, they're not controlling, especially dissents from orders.

This dissent from an en banc rehearing denial, by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, arguing that the frequency of Brady disclosure violations has reached epidemic proportions, is one more reason why Judge Kozinski is quickly becoming a personal favorite. It's snarky, well-written, and makes you wonder how in the heck the original panel (and the en banc deniers) got the case so wrong.

Unfortunately, it's legal effect is nill, which means the defendant, Kenneth Olsen, who was convicted of knowingly developing a biological agent (ricin) for use as a weapon (allegedly laced allergy pills), will not receive relief, absent Supreme Court intervention.

Mount Soledad Cross Removal Finally Ordered, But Appeals May Continue

The Mount Soledad cross. People have been fighting over the cross's presence, as part of a war memorial, for more than twenty years. Two years ago, the Ninth Circuit held that the cross was a violation of the Establishment Clause, as it sent a message of government endorsement of a particular religion.

And yet, it remains standing. And despite yesterday's order by U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns, giving the city, federal government, and the association running the memorial 90 days to dismantle the landmark, it's almost certain that the cross isn't coming down soon, as the order was stayed pending any further appeals.

LinkedIn Litigation: Shrinkwrap Licensing Stretched to its Limits?

A gaggle of angry social networking professionals claim that LinkedIn "hacked" their email accounts, leading to a deluge of emails to their contact lists with invitations to connect with them on the social network, complete with their photo, name, and implied endorsement. They want the email spamming to stop.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, wants this litigation to stop, and argued in a motion to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh (the judge who seems to be the de facto tech trial judge in Silicon Valley, who presided over the Apple v. Samsung trial and a Google privacy dispute, amongst others) that users gave them permission to access their email accounts.

En Banc Shots: 5 Cases Set for Arguments, Streaming This Week

Fiending for a live stream of oral arguments in landmark cases? As we reported last week, the Ninth Circuit is going to lead the way in transparency by becoming the first Circuit Court of Appeals to stream its en banc proceedings live, online, at the court's website.

What cases are set for arguments? DNA collection, criminal matters, immigration, and a police shooting are all on the docket.

With Live Streaming, 9th Continues to Lead in Tech, Transparency

How great would it be if all landmark cases were streamed online? Everyone, from lawyers, to high schools students in a civics class, could see how the court system works.

We aren't there yet, at least in most courts. The Supreme Court refuses to allow cameras in the courtroom, either for live streaming, television broadcasts, or for online archiving. Heck, they only release audio recordings once a week.

But the Ninth Circuit, as they have done in the past, is pushing ahead with technology, and will begin to live stream en banc rehearings as early as next week, reports Politico.

Trump University Anti-SLAPP Case Denied En Banc Rehearing

Back in April, a Ninth Circuit panel issued a decision that, for the most part, was relatively straight-forward under controlling law.

A disgruntled former Trump University student took to the Internet, and the courts, to express her thoughts that TU was a rip-off, and was met with a defamation suit in response. She (Anti-)SLAPP(ed) back, using the California-based semi-procedural mechanism against TU. The Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation device allows a person to fight back against lawsuits that "masquerade as ordinary lawsuits but are intended to deter ordinary people from exercising their political or legal rights."