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3 Quick Tips for New Attorneys Filing in The 9th Circuit

You know the drill: New attorneys practicing in the Ninth Circuit need to be aware of the court's local rules to make sure they don't look too much like a newbie.

In comparison with some other circuits, the Ninth Circuit's rules appear to be slightly more laid back. But even so, federal courts are on the whole much stricter and sterner when it comes to enforcing the rules than your average state court. If you are just starting out in federal practice, here are three quick tips.

Back in April, a Ninth Circuit panel issued a decision that, for the most part, was relatively straight-forward under controlling law.

A disgruntled former Trump University student took to the Internet, and the courts, to express her thoughts that TU was a rip-off, and was met with a defamation suit in response. She (Anti-)SLAPP(ed) back, using the California-based semi-procedural mechanism against TU. The Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation device allows a person to fight back against lawsuits that "masquerade as ordinary lawsuits but are intended to deter ordinary people from exercising their political or legal rights."

We've heard of long-arm jurisdiction, but this case puts both Wilt Chamberlain's wingspan and Stretch Armstrong to shame.

Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson are professional gamblers. On their way back from rounding in Puerto Rico, they were questioned about the large amount of cash on their persons by a DEA agent. During their subsequent layover in Atlanta, another DEA agent, Anthony Walden, questioned them, and this time, seized their cash.

Despite the agent's best efforts, and an allegedly falsified probable cause affidavit, the pair proved that their money was from legal gambling, not drugs. Seven months after it was seized, their $97,000 was finally returned. They then sued Agent Walden and others in federal court in Nevada.

DaimlerChryster (DCAG) isn't located on these fair shores. The German corporation is as foreign to Northern California as lederhosen and pumpernickel, yet they are being sued in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Nor was the alleged tortfeasing done in California. DCAG's Argentinean subsidiary allegedly committed human rights violations in Argentina in the late 1970s during the "Dirty War," hiring state agents to remove left-wing dissidents from the plant during the aftermath of a military coup. Many of the dissidents were never heard from again.

When I grow up, I wish for one thing (besides tons of money and someone to be my friend): I wish, nay, I pray that my name never ends up in the body of a court opinion. Seriously, how often is a lawyer’s name mentioned by a court in the opinion and it isn’t a massive screw-up? Courts never say, “Joe Smith is a brilliant advocate who presented admirable work.”

Thursday, the Ninth Circuit bench-slapped six Littler Mendelson attorneys by name, in three separate published orders, ordering them (within 21 days) to show cause why monetary sanctions should not be imposed against counsel individually for filing a frivolous petition for writ of mandamus in three separate cases. The cases, and attorneys include:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have arrived at the latest Prop 8 destination. And here it is:

The petitioners, also known as the proponents of California’s Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as “the union of a man and a woman,” argue that the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the State of California from employing such a definition.

The respondents, same-sex couples that wish to marry, ask whether California, having previously recognized same-sex marriage, can withdraw that right through a referendum in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in Romer v. Evans.

It ain't easy being a trial judge. Litigants of all shapes, sizes, and abilities appear before you, and for some with special needs, they are entitled to reasonable accommodation. Most of the time, that accommodation is simple, such as having an interpreter in the room.

Other times, it's not.

The anonymous complainant here, who suffers from a communications disability, is a pro se litigant who sought to have his caretaker act as his "authorized representative" and "address the court in his behalf." That, of course, sounds more like the job of an attorney, as the requested accommodation was not mere transmittal of the litigant's statements -- it was full-on representation.

Attorneys have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t represent clients with divergent interests. Class representatives have responsibility to represent their own interests as well as the interests of the other members of the class.

Conditioning a class representative’s award on their approval of the terms of the settlement, therefore would seem to cause a bit of an issue. Will a class representative reject a settlement and risk losing a $5,000 award? What about a situation where the attorneys get $16 million, the class representatives get $5,000 each, and the members of the class get between $26 and $750?

It's a question that has plagued mankind (assuming lawyers are human) for centuries. And by centuries, we mean since the great Civil Procedure shakeup of 2007-2009.

If a complaint is filed in a state court under notice pleading requirements, then removed to federal court on diversity grounds, does it have to comply with Iqbal and Twombly standards?

Pardon us while we desperately call our old Civil Procedure professors. Oh wait, never mind. The Ninth Circuit just answered the question for us.

Copyright Violation is Enough Contact for Personal Jurisdiction

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held this week that an Arkansas retailer is subject to personal jurisdiction in Washington state when its only relevant contact with the state is a claim that it willfully violated a copyright held by a Washington corporation.

Move over, International Shoe, because Washington Shoe is about to get up in your personal jurisdiction.