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9th Circuit June 2013 News

Littler Mendelson: Once, Twice, Six Times a Sanctioning?

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:

9th Circuit, Cal. Supreme Court Reversed: No Prop. 8 Standing

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.

9th Goes Against SCOTUS, Reverses Unfair 3 Strikes Sentence

Sometimes, there is no correct answer, even when there is a right answer.

A panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed a man's Three Strikes sentence, using a plurality discussion in a Supreme Court case to go against that same case's majority opinion. In doing so, the Ninth Circuit gave the common-sense right answer, that a man shouldn't get a life sentence for relying upon a judge and prosecutor's incorrect assertions, and later, appeals courts' incorrect rulings, but seemingly went against controlling Supreme Court precedent.

Fairness versus stare decisis? And will the decision hold up on appeal?

Conspiracy Theorist Has Right to Testify at Competency Hearing

Charles Lee Gillenwater, II is either reality-challenged or Mel Gibson. The court, psychiatrists, and his counsel believe the former. He’ll now have the opportunity to prove it’s the latter.

From the record, it seems that Gillenwater worked construction for Caesar’s casino, and while working there, blew the whistle on OSHA violations involving asbestos. Since then, he alleges that the lawyers, Democrats, President Obama, and members of his cabinet are all involved in a plot to silence him. At one point, he contacted Federal Protective Services and told them:

NSA Surveillance Lawsuit Ironically Dismissed as 'Speculative'

Perhaps a motion for rehearing might be in order here?

Two weeks ago, if someone were to tell you that the National Security Agency was monitoring your phone records, your phone’s GPS location, and basically everything you do online, you might’ve said that such a statement was “speculative.” Or, if you aren’t as soft-spoken as the Ninth Circuit, you might’ve told that person to get back on their medication and to remove the tin foil from their head.

How about now? And will the recent NSA scandal cause the Ninth Circuit to reconsider today’s unpublished dismissal of Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama?

Ninth Battling to Regain Spot as 'Most Reversed' Circuit

Lets play a word association game. What are the first things you think of when you hear "Ninth Circuit"?

Liberal. Western. Reversals.

The Ninth's reputation precedes it, and with the results of the recent spate of Supreme Court decisions, it may have reclaimed it's title as the most reversed circuit court in America (though the Sixth is certainly putting up a good fight).

In December, the ABA Journal stated that the Sixth Circuit had surpassed the infamous Ninth as the most reversed court, with an 81.6 percent reversal rate since the fall of 2005. The Ninth Circuit, which held the second-place spot, was reversed in "only" 78.1 percent of cases.

Impaired Judge and Incompetent Man's Plea to a Death Sentence

Ronald Deere has been described in many ways, none of which are positive. Murderer. Incompetent. Suffering from either multiple personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. A man with a death wish.

The late Judge Fred Metheny, who presided over his 1982 trial, sentencing, and resentencing, barely fares better, being described as eccentric, incompetent, senile, and suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's.

Obstruction Instructions Don't Require 'Wicked' and 'Evil'

Gabriel Watters had a slick car heist scheme. He allegedly went to New Orleans, post-Katrina, and towed a number of abandoned cars back home for resale. Clever, immoral, and obviously illegal, right?

Except, he was found not guilty … at least of the Katrina heist offenses.

Man Sues After Avoiding 5 Years of Prison Due to Sentencing Error

Jesse Engebretson pled guilty to four counts of sexual assault in 1993. Because he had also been convicted of a felony burglary within five years of committing the sexual assaults, he was classified as a persistent felony offender by the court under Montana law.

That classification entitled him to an extra thirty years in prison after his four concurrent 20-year terms for the four sexual assaults. The judge suspended the sentence, however, and instead sentenced him to thirty-years probation.