9th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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When a person's competency to stand trial for a crime is in question in Washington State, state law requires the state Department of Social and Health Services to evaluate them within seven to 21 days. Because of staffing, budgeting, and other limitations, detained individuals often go weeks without an evaluation, during which they may be held in solitary confinement, often exacerbating mental illnesses.

Following a class action lawsuit on behalf of such detained individuals, a federal district required a series of reforms from the state services that included a seven-day maximum for providing competency determinations. On appeal, while the Ninth Circuit agreed that jail was "no substitute" for therapeutic evaluation and treatment, the court tossed the seven-day requirement, finding the week-long limit to go "beyond what the Constitution requires."

Free Speech on College Campus Addressed in 9th Cir. Ruling

Controversy has been rumbling at Fresno State since 2010 when conservative student Neil O'Brien started a chapter of Young Americans for Liberty at the school and allegedly began "harassing" professors in the Latin American Studies department there.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit effectively upheld Fresno State's view that O'Brien had expressed harassing speech. But the court also let stand his count against the school on the grounds that it retaliated against him for his conduct. The opinion has gotten mixed reactions from both sides.

San Diego 'Bite and Hold' Case Will Proceed to Trial: 9th Cir.

Are the San Diego's policies employing canine units to "bite and hold" an unconstitutional violation of civil rights? Reasonable minds may disagree, and that is why the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit allowing the suit to move forward to trial.

However your opinion may lean on this issue -- we're almost sure that it didn't help when the police officer told the victim that she was "very lucky," because the dog "could have ripped [her] face off."

An attempt by the Justice Department to speed up the death penalty process survived a challenge in the Ninth Circuit last week. Under a federal program, states that provide certified, competent representation to capital prisoners can have those prisoners' federal habeas petitions "fast-tracked," dropping the time prisoners have to file habeas petitions in half, reducing delays before the guillotine falls.

Two capital defense providers sued, arguing that the new regulations made it impossible to tell if state programs would be certified, making it difficult for them to protect death row inmates' rights. But those concerns, the Ninth Circuit ruled, aren't sufficient enough to give them standing.

9th Cir. Affirms Denial of Habeas Relief to Armed Robbery Defendant

In what is certainly a confounding jumble of legal issues indeed, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower district court's decision to deny habeas relief to a man who'd been convicted of numerous crimes arising out of his early 2000s Washington state crime spree.

In what was not presented as a petitioned issue, the circuit concluded that although it had affirmed on the issue of habeas, the defendant was free to appeal possible constitutional violations.

'The Hurt Locker' Is Protected Speech, 9th Circuit Rules

The Ninth Circuit's recent decision concerning "The Hurt Locker" film is important for those defendants who author screenplays or make film's based on real people and real events. Such stories, the Ninth Circuit concluded, are "fully protected speech."

It's been several years since Mstr. Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver brought his suit. Who knew that what once started as a Playboy article would one day eventually turn into a civil rights debate?

Gay Pride Kilt Case to Appear in 9th Circuit

A rather interesting case involving a "not compliant" leather-gladiator gay pride outfit will be marching itself to the Ninth Circuit in March. Will Walters' selective enforcement suit has already scandalized and inflamed the internet when it was revealed to the public in 2012.

Now, years later, the Ninth Circuit (appropriately located in San Francisco) will hear the merits of Walter's suit, LGBT news outlet FrontiersMedia reports.

So the question remains: thongs or leather butt-flaps?

When Mario Garcia was arrested for a DUI in Riverside County, California, the police booking system matched him to an outstanding felony warrant in Los Angeles. Garcia was quickly transferred to L.A.

Except the police had the wrong Mario Garcia. And despite Garcia's numerous objections, officers refused to perform even the most basic checks, checks which would have revealed their mistake. In so failing, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday, the Los Angeles County, the L.A. Sheriff's Department, and individual officers forfeited their legal immunity.

9th Circuit Affirms Arizona Judge Speech Laws as Constitutional

Our nation's most liberal circuit, the Ninth Circuit, just affirmed a lower district's ruling that judges cannot endorse other judges or political groups while angling for their own judge's seat.

The circuit found that despite legal arguments Wolfson presented, the Arizona laws put in place to limit judge speech survived the high bar of "strict scrutiny" review.

9th Cir. Overturns Conviction for Military Medals Con-Man

The Ninth Circuit swooped in for the rescue of a man convicted under Stolen Valor Act for having unlawfully worn military decorations and medals that he did not earn. The court ruled that the section of the act under which he was convicted was unconstitutional.

There was dissent among the judges. Hon. Jay Bybee, who wrote the dissenting opinion, countered that the majority underestimated the negative effects of disallowing criminal punishments for flouting the law; and that letting persons wear medals they did not earn would damage public trust and cause confusion.