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

9th Circuit November 2016 News

Woman Shot by Police for Holding a Knife Can Bring Excessive Force Claim

An Arizona police officer must stand trial for shooting a woman who was walking in her driveway with a knife, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a lower court that had dismissed the case on a motion for summary judgment. Judge William K. Sessions III said a jury should decide whether the officer used excessive force. He also said the officer was not, without further proceedings in the excessive force case, entitled to immunity.

"(A) jury ... could find that she had a constitutional right to walk down her driveway holding a knife without being shot," Sessions said in the unanimous decision.

A county sheriff accused of creating a sexually hostile work environment by hugging and kissing a coworker isn't entitled to summary judgement, the Ninth Circuit has ruled. Yolo County Sheriff Edward G. Prieto was accused by Victoria Zetwick, a correctional sergeant, of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act based on allegedly over a hundred "unwelcome hugs and/or kisses" over a 12-year period.

The district court had granted Prieto's motion for summary judgment, finding that the accused conduct was not severe or pervasive enough to establish a hostile work environment, but the unanimous three-judge Ninth Circuit panel reversed in an unpublished opinion, ruling that a reasonable jury could find Prieto's conduct to have violated the law.

"The Lake Tahoe Region is an area of unmatched beauty surrounding the largest alpine lake in North America," Judge Mary M. Schroeder writes at the beginning of a recent Ninth Circuit opinion. And she couldn't be more on point. With its deep-blue waters, towering trees, and majestic mountain peaks, Lake Tahoe is one of the great natural wonders of the American West. Even the Donners must have marveled at their sublime surroundings as they succumbed to cannibalism among Tahoe's alpine slopes.

But that beauty has brought the Tahoe area incredible popularity, popularity which risks burying the area's natural charms under vacation rentals and ski resorts. To help manage that growth, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency released, in 2012, the first comprehensive update to environmental regulations since the 1980's. And though that regional development plan may not have gone as far as environmentalists would have wanted, its environmental impact statement did not violate the requirements of the law, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday.