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A California public defender can continue with her lawsuit against the deputy sheriff who handcuffed her and dragged her through a courthouse, the Ninth Circuit ruled last week. A district court had ruled that the deputy, who was seeking to make sure that the attorney appeared when her case was called, had qualified immunity from the suit, an argument the Ninth rejected. There's no way that the deputy could reasonably believe he had a valid Fourth Amendment reason for the arrest, the unanimous panel held in an opinion by Judge Kozinski.

The ruling revives public defender Florentina Demuth's section 1983 suit against the county and sheriff's department of Los Angeles. At the same time, however, Kozinski scolded both parties for allowing a "tiff" to extend into a lawsuit that has lasted years and cost the city more than $1 million.

The Supreme Court has upheld Arizona's use of independent commissions in drawing legislative districts. In order to prevent gerrymandering, the state elected, through public referendum, to establish an independent commission to draw congressional districts. The state legislature challenged this practice, arguing that it violated the constitution's Elections Clause, which declares that the time, place and manner of Congressional elections should be determined "in each State by the Legislature therefor," though Congress can alter those regulations.

The opinion, written by Justice Ginsburg and joined by Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, held that states weren't limited to having their legislatures in charge of legislative districting, so long as the choice is enacted through proper means. "Legislature," read this way, isn't limited to elective representatives -- it means any law-making authority, including the people themselves.

The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, reheard oral arguments last Tuesday in the case of Peruta v. San Diego County, a controversial challenge to California's concealed carry laws. In California, concealed carry -- the possession of a concealed firearm in public -- is generally prohibited, with permits issued only when one can show just cause for needing to take their gun out for a walk through the town square. Personal safety alone is not enough.

Two Ninth Circuit judges struck down that rule in February, 2014, holding that the "right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense." The en banc rehearing could repudiate that decision.

Shell is more excited than ever to begin searching for oil off the coast of Alaska. Last Thursday, the Ninth Circuit removed a major hurdle for Shell's exploration plans by approving the company's Arctic spill response plans.

When the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved Shell's response plans, a number of environmental organizations sued the Secretary of the Interior and the Department of the Interior under the Administrative Procedures Act. The district court found for Shell, determining that the BSEE's approval wasn't arbitrary or capricious. The Ninth Circuit agreed.

The Ninth Circuit has reinstated a proposed class action against Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals over allegedly misleading health claims and the trans fat content of their Benecol butter substitute, once hailed as one of the first foods "designed to act like medicine."

Plaintiff Robert Reid contended that Benecol was improperly being marketed as a health food, particularly challenging the product label's statements that it contained "no trans fats" and touting the cholesterol-reducing powers of plant stanol esters. The unanimous decision overturned a district court's ruling that such claims were pre-empted.

Benecol, whose name is meant to evoke "good cholesterol," claims to contain no trans fats and reduce cholesterol through the inclusion of plant stanol esters. Much to Reid's chagrin, a serving of Benecol included up to half a gram of trans fats.

Looking Back at 2014: The 10 Most Popular Posts From the 9th Cir.

I love the Ninth Circuit. In 2014, there was not a more interesting or unpredictable docket on the planet. The Ninth Circuit dealt with many hot-button issues such as concealed carry, free speech on YouTube, and the Hobby Lobby fallout.

What did you find most interesting? Our 10 most popular posts covered all of the above topics, plus judicial gossip, nominations, and more:

1 Week to the New Chief: Montana's Sidney Thomas Takes Top Spot

It's been a heck of a ride with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski at the top of the Ninth Circuit, but with his seven-year term coming to a close, prepare for a different, more subdued, albeit equally able chief: Judge Sidney R. Thomas.

The ageist numbers game that comprise the rules of succession mean that Clinton-appointed Thomas will be the next in line, and because he is a young sixty-one years of age, he should hold the spot down for the next seven years. At the end of a chief judge's term, the position goes to the most senior judge under the age of sixty-five who has not previously served as chief. Terms end after seven years or when the chief reaches the age of seventy.

Sidney Thomas is that man, a Montana man since birth and through law school, the third such man to take the top spot in the nation's busiest circuit.

9 From the 9th: 4 More to SCOTUS, 1 That Won't Bore You to Tears

Medicaid enforcement. ERISA plans with fiduciary duties. And inflated natural gas prices. What do these three things have in common? None of them would pique the interest of the average American.

But immigration issues due to alleged ties to terrorism? Being locked out of a country where your U.S. citizen wife lives? That's compelling. That's something that will make the headlines when decided.

But first, let's look at the cases only the lawyers could love:

The Ninth Circuit meets in Pasadena, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, but since we're in the Bay Area, and have firsthand experience living in San Francisco, we thought we'd take some time to give you an insider's view of the court when it sits in "The City."

If you are coming to San Francisco to argue an appeal before the Ninth Circuit, there are really three things you need to know (besides your case): food, parking and tech.

AZ's 6 New Judges Include 1st Female Native American Fed. Judge

It's been a long time coming for Arizona's short-handed federal bench.

The local federal courts have been in a declared "state of emergency" since 2011, reports AZ Central, but the long-awaited reinforcements are on the way. Included in the slate of six are Rosemary Márquez, a defense attorney whose nomination has been pending for 1,057 days, and Diane Humetewa, a former U.S. attorney who will become the first Native American woman ever named to the federal bench, and third Native American overall.

It's been a rough battle to fill the seats, and an interesting turn of events for Humetewa, who was nominated to the bench by the same president who forced her resignation from the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2009.