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

9th Circuit July 2011 News

ATF Entrapment Scheme Snares Jury Instruction Victim

Catherine Zeta-Jones embedded “entrapment” into the American collective consciousness when she wore a cat suit to slither through a laser security system in the 1999 not-so-stellar film of the same name. Since then, entrapment has been relegated to common criminals and cable crime dramas.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, (ATF), however, is trying to change that.

FAA Violation Unnecessary to Bring Accident Claim

If you fly regularly, you have encountered the great syntax mystery of air travel: why do flight attendants demand that we "stow all electronics in the off position," instead of telling us to "turn off" or "power down" our gadgets? It's like asking someone to "instruct me in the ways of thy Douglas" instead of "teach me how to Dougie." And it's weird.

While debating this question, you may have also wondered if the airlines have similar obligations. Do they ever have to stow their electronic devices, (namely the wee television monitors that lower from the overhead bins), in the "off position" to ensure passenger safety? And if their electronic devices hurt a passenger, is it considered an airline "accident" under the Montreal Convention? (You're a lawyer - you think about these things.)

DADT Repeal Effective September 20, DOMA Issues Linger

The Obama Administration submitted notice to the Ninth Circuit on Friday that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would officially end on September 20. The administration completed the certification to start the 60 day enactment clock on the repeal of legislation last week.

The administration had hoped that providing the certification would put an end to the Ninth Circuit's role in the matter, but the court refused to stand down. Administering a dose of what you might call "Rolling Stones justice," the court issued a new order specifying that the military may not discharge, punish, or investigate service members for "don't ask, don't tell" violations for the duration of the policy.

Hunters Lose Leopard Trophies in Civil Asset Forfeiture Appeal

Today's Ninth Circuit opinion features the misnomer of the week.

The appellant, a Louisiana-based non-profit called Conservation Force, sounds like a superhero union in vein of Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Instead, it is "wildlife conservation" group that explains on its website that "hunting uniquely provides self actualization, completeness and expression which are complex, higher order needs deserving of protection." So it should come as no surprise that Conservation Force sued Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar after the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) seized two leopard trophies that American hunters imported into the U.S. from Africa.

Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference August 15-18

The 2011 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference will be held August 15-18 at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California.

This year's program will include presentations on the limits of federalism, use of neuroscience evidence in the courtroom, historical overviews of search and seizure law, the future of the courts, and a retrospective on 40 years of women in the law. Supreme Court Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will participate in the program.

Circuit Reverses Bagdasarian Threat Conviction

Walter Bagdasarian, a California man accused of violating a federal law that prohibits making threats against a presidential candidate, dodged a .50 caliber conviction bullet using his crack legal team and the foot permanently inserted in his mouth. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Bagdasarian's conviction for threatening to kill or inflict bodily harm upon a major candidate for the office of President.

In October 2008, Bagdasarian, under the pseudonym "californiaradial," posted multiple messages on a Yahoo! Finance message board using racial slurs to refer to then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama, and suggesting that Obama would have "a 50 cal in the head soon." Attempting to redeem his good pseudonym, he later posted to the same message board that he had been drunk when he left the original messages. Another message board participant reported Bagdasarian's comments to the Los Angeles Secret Service field office.

Nunez-Reyes v. Holder Reverses Ninth Circuit Expungement Position

The Ninth Circuit confirmed this week that the past can come back to haunt you, even when it’s been expunged. In a surprising policy shift, the court reversed its equal protection holding in Lujan-Armendariz v. INS so that expungement of a state-law conviction for simple drug possession no longer insulates an alien from deportation.

The court’s opinion in Nunez-Reyes v. Holder affirms a Board of Immigration Appeals decision to deny Flavio Nunez-Reyes’s application for cancellation of removal. Nunez-Reyes, a native and citizen of Mexico who entered the U.S. in 1992, pleaded guilty in California state court to felony and misdemeanor drug charges in 2001. Although the state dismissed the charges after Nunez-Reyes satisfied the terms of his probation, the federal government used the expunged simple drug possession conviction as grounds to charge Nunez-Reyes as removable.

Ninth Circuit Asks White House to 'Tell' Court Its Position on DADT

A week after finding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Obama Administration to clarify whether it would defend the policy in court. According to the order, the merits panel does not believe that the government is prepared to defend the law.

Though Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” last December, the measure has yet to take effect. Further confusing the situation, the legislation does not include a clearly-defined effective date, instead stating that the policy will be repealed 60 days after the President submits a written certification to the congressional defense committees that certain requirements have been met.

9th Circuit Orders Pentagon to Stop Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Obama Administration to stop enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military.

The Court of Appeals removed a stay of an injunction on the policy, earlier this week, in a panel consisting of Judges Alex Kozinski, Kim Wardlaw and Richard Paez.

Judge Ronald M. Whyte, Paul F. Eckstein to Receive Awards

Here's some news from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week:

With the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference approaching, some of the awards recipients have been announced.

San Jose area Judge Ronald M. Whyte and Phoenix area attorney Paul F. Eckstein will be honored with special awards.

9th Cir: Jared Loughner Can't be Forced to Take Meds

The man who killed a Ninth Circuit judge and left Representative Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life cannot be forced to take anti-psychotic medications, the Ninth Circuit said.

Jared Loughner was granted some temporary relief as his attorneys argued for a stay last Friday, arguing that prison officials should not force Loughner to take anti-psychotic drugs upon determination that he may be a danger to himself or others, writes the Tucson Sentinel. His attorneys argue that he can only be forced to take such drugs after a court hearing, in line with a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Instead, the drugs were forced on Loughner after an administrative hearing where his attorneys were not present.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Memorial for Cynthia Holcomb Hall

Earlier this week, the Judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals convened in honor of a recently departed judge, reports Metropolitan News Enterprise.

Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall passed away in February, at the age of 82. And coming from an era where women lawyers were rare and women judges even more so, Judge Hall was a trailblazer for women in the legal industry, like her fellow Stanford Law alumnus, Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

A special session was held in the en banc courtroom of the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, with many people in attendance.