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

9th Circuit June 2016 News

Culverts can be tricky things, especially if you're a fish. Culverts, those tunnels and pipes that carry creeks and streams under roadways, are an easy way to allow traffic to cross small waterways. But some of them also choke off fish entirely, becoming obstacles for salmon swimming from their upstream breeding grounds to sea. The problem is particularly pronounced when culverts are aging or in disrepair. And plenty of Washington State's culverts are aging and in disrepair.

Twenty-one of the state's Native American tribes, joined by the federal government, sued over the state of Washington's culverts, arguing that they impeded salmon runs and violated the tribes' treaty rights to catch fish. Those tribes were successful in the Ninth Circuit on Monday, with the court upholding a district court order that requires Washington to fix more than 800 derelict culverts.

At FindLaw, we love to get questions from our readers. So when you ask, we try to answer. One reader recently wrote us to wonder about the relationship between judicial scrutiny, appellate standards of review, and recent Second Amendment cases. In sum: what's up with all that?

The question actually goes to the heart of legal battles over concealed carry laws, assault-weapon bans, and Second Amendment rights. And it's bound to come before the Supreme Court, sooner or later. Let's dive in.

Smut Trolling 'Prenda Law' Firm Gets No 9th Cir. Sympathy

Trolling is the ultimate business model -- until it finally comes to a grinding halt. This appears to be how things are rolling out for the now defunct Chicago outfit Prenda Law that made a name for itself in recent years by buying up porn copyrights via shell companies and extracting settlement monies out of lonely downloaders.

In the words of Alison Frankel of Reuters, misusing copyright law and deceiving the courts are good tactics to enrage judges and turn sentiment against you. Not a good strategy at all for law firms.

Munitions Maker Hooks the Gov't for Cleanup Costs

The cleanup costs a defense contractor sought to collect against the US Government were not precluded because of previous litigation, according to the Ninth Circuit.

The costs under CERCLA were, according to the federal court, separate from the damages that had previously been collected in another suit which was brought by a downstream water agency. As a result, the costs were not subject to preclusion.

2nd Amend. Doesn't Grant Right to Carry in Public, 9th Cir. Says

The Ninth Circuit tightened the belt on gun laws in the Golden State as well as all the entirety of the nation's West Coast when an en banc court ruled that the Second Amendment does not guarantee a right to carry loaded concealed weapons in public yesterday.

It's a not-so-stunning reversal of a three-judge panel finding by the Ninth Circuit earlier that took heat and pressure from California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Burning Man's La Contessa Is Not Visual Art Under VARA

The legendary La Contessa which once started off life as a school bus but later transformed into a model replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon did not qualify as visual art under the federal Visual Artists Rights Act and other implicated Nevada laws, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

For those who can't remember, La Contessa lasted about four years at the festival until she was banned because her "unsafe driving practices far exceeded community tolerance and out-weighed the visual contribution [she] made." What a bunch of party poopers.

Strike a Pose: Madonna's 'Vogue' Gets Fair Use Victory in 9th Cir.

Have you ever listened to a song and heard the faint and often vague whisper of a familiar sound from another artist's song? Well, that's not by accident. Such sampling is rather common and is at the epicenter of a recent Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of everyone's favorite material girl, Madonna.

The court ruled that Madonna's very minor sample from a 1976 song in "Vogue" was small enough to be excusable. But, the issue actually might be a little more nuanced than that.

9th Circuit Revives Bogus Casting Call Model Mayhem Suit

Owing to a recent reversal of a lower federal court decision by the Ninth Circuit, the model networking site Model Mayhem and its parent company Internet Brands must face a previously dismissed case arising out of a casting couch scam. According to the lawsuit, the scam left the plaintiff drugged, raped, and cast as an unwilling member in an illicitly published porno.

The plaintiff's lawyer has celebrated the decision as a "landmark" victory for victims who were similarly scouted by unscrupulous scammers and it clarifies the proper application of the Communications Decency Act.