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

9th Circuit December 2015 News

The University of Hawaii did not violate the constitution when it denied a student teaching position to a candidate who said that "the age of consent should be zero" and had no problems with "child predation."

That denial meant that secondary education candidate Mark Oyama could not become a teacher in Hawaii, but it did not violate his free speech or due process rights, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday.

When James McKinney was sentenced to death for two murders, evidence of his turbulent childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder wasn't considered a mitigating factor. For over 15 years, Arizona courts relied on a "causal nexus" test for mitigating factors, which forbids consideration of family background and mental illness as mitigating factors.

Arizona's causal nexus test for mitigating factors is unconstitutional, a divided Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled on Tuesday. The decision not only puts McKinney's death sentence into question, it could jeopardize many Arizona capital sentences issued between 1989 and 2005.

'No' Means 'No' When Questioned by Police, 9th Cir. Rules

The Ninth Circuit reaffirmed a law that has been fundamental to criminal law for an entire generation of criminal attorneys: "No" means just that -- no. In its opinion, the circuit court vacated the trial court's ruling as being established on inadmissible evidence, and affirmed the lower appeal's court grant of habeas corpus.

This case underscores the limits of police custodial interrogations. The best tip for a would-be criminal about to be questioned by the police? Just say "no."

Ed O'Bannon and other college athletes won't get an en banc rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, the court announced today. O'Bannon, the once-upon-a-time star of the UCLA basketball team, sued the NCAA for antitrust violations after he discovered the association was licensing his image for video games, while preventing college athletes from making a dime off such deals.

The Ninth Circuit gave the NCAA a partial win in September. Yes, the NCAA is subject to antitrust laws, the court found. But no, the NCAA cannot simply set aside $5,000 in trust for athletes, payable on graduation. And no, the court announced today, it's not willing to reconsider.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Facebook v. Power Ventures. There's a $3M judgement at stake, but that's nothing compared to the impact the case could have on the reach of an anti-hacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

That law, once intended to punish hackers who broke into computer systems, has been read by some circuits to prohibit all sorts of unauthorized access, from looking at protected company files to access someone's Facebook information.

It's about time the EPA made a final rule on the potentially toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday. Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide that, in addition to protecting almond, orange, and cotton crops from pests, is connected to the poisoning of farm workers and rural residents, as well as neurological impairments in children.

The Pesticide Action Network North America and National Resources Defense Council first petitioned the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos in 2007, but the agency has been slow to respond. The EPA issued a proposed rule banning the pesticide in October, which the Ninth Circuit has ruled must be finalized by the end of 2016.

For years, Volkswagen sold millions of cars with 'defeat devices' designed to evade environmental controls and misrepresent the cars' emissions. When VW's fraud was made public this September, the consumer lawsuits began piling on almost immediately. Over 500 class actions have been filed in 60 federal judicial districts.

Now, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has giving those suits a new home in the Northern District of California, where they will be handled by Judge Charles Breyer, brother to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

'Tire-Eating' Ford Focus Case Revived by 9th Circuit

In a breach of warranty case affecting many Focus owners, the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court's ruling that plaintiffs who owned 'tire-eating' Ford Focus models from 2005-11 failed to show that the cars became unsalable within the duration of implied warranty.

Judge Donald Mallor twisted the knife further when he found that the language of the express warranty was ambiguous. He slapped Ford under the doctrine of contra proferentem.

9th Cir Revives Section 8 Class Action, Calls for New Judge

For all the emotions it evokes -- both pro and con -- Section 8 is sometimes the only avenue by which the impoverished can get affordable housing in a region. For most recipients, any change in a government subsidy is a matter of daily livelihood and may result in homelessness.

A Section 8 subsidy is a property right. As such, the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court decision in favor of defendants who had administered a local voucher program and instead entered judgment for plaintiffs, who argued they weren't given proper notice before their subsidies were reduced.

Willful Ignorance Can Lead to Adoptive Admission, 9th Cir. Rules

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tackled a matter of first impression in Transbay v. Chevron when it found that a party's willful ignorance of the contents of a document can possibly lead to an admission of the truth of the contents. Anyone who's planning to whip out the "I knew nothin'" defense will have to reassess her strategy.

Every litigator loves hearsay -- and its infamous loopholes. It looks like the Ninth Circuit has finally spoken and closed another loop on the "ostrich defense."