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

9th Circuit March 2016 News

The Tohono O'odham Nation did not violate a gaming compact between it and the state of Arizona when it planned to build a casino in Glendale, the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday. Arizona and two other tribes claimed that the tribe's casino plans were in violation of a 2002 gaming compact between the tribe and the state, which allowed gaming on native land but barred casinos on lands taking into trust after 1988. But, that bar did not extend to lands acquired as part of a settlement of a land claim, the court ruled, allowing the casino to go forward.

The ruling is the 19th federal court decision in favor of the project, The Arizona Republic reports. But despite the tribes' winning streak, continued litigation is expected.

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.

9th Circuit Revisits Dancing Baby, Edits out Robo-Screening

The issue of baby Holden and his viral "dancing baby" is still kicking and making waves in the world of the fair-use debate. The ruling last year was technically a win for free-use proponents, but it could hardly have been called a knock out of the park.

The Ninth Circuit recently revisited its ruling for the EFF and clarified the otherwise confusing victory for the free-Internet advocacy group.

Sexual Harassment Claims Against Prison Co. Will Go Forward

A previously dismissed sexual harassment suit brought against a Florida-state correctional agency that contracts with the Department of Justice must be reinstated, said the Ninth Circuit. The case centers on the unprofessional and sexually explicit behaviors of male co-workers who were employees of Florida based Geo Group.

The Arizona Attorneys Office seemed happy by the Ninth Circuit's ruling. "This ruling allows our office to seek remedies for 25 women who were forced to accept sexual harassment by their male co-workers and supervisors as a requirement for their work at the Geo Group," said Mia Garcia, a spokesperson for the AZ Attorney General's Office.

SCOTUS Candidate: Meet Judge Paul J. Watford of the 9th Circuit

The leading contender for President Obama's nomination to SCOTUS is none other than 9th Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford. However, if the past is any indication, Watford's candidacy will be the source of much resistance. If Judge Watford occupies Justice Scalia's vacancy, he would be the third African-American Justice in the Court's history. But he isn't the only contender on President Obama's increasingly short list of candidates.

The nomination of a candidate to replace Justice Scalia has taken center stage in what is becoming yet another ugly Capitol Hill conflict.

9th Circuit Decides Indian Reservation Murder Case

It's rare when issues of jurisdiction actually sound interesting, but a recent case in California makes the grade. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part a criminal judgment against a defendant in a murder case where jurisdiction over the defendant turned on whether or not the victim was Indian.

This case reminds of the duality in the Continental United States between the US Government and the Indian Nations.

Citizen 'Denaturalized' for Burglary After Taking Oath

Teng Jiao Zhou emigrated to America in 1985 and applied to become a naturalized citizen in 1993. On the surface, it looked he was doing everything right: he attended his naturalization interview, filled out the Form N-400 paperwork, and passed his naturalization exam.

But behind the scenes, Zhou had been convicted for robbery soon after he emigrated. His story, as portrayed in the Ninth Circuit case United States of America v. Teng Jiao Zhou, makes it clear that anyone who has questions reflecting poorly on their moral character may find themselves denaturalized citizens of the United States.

Fannie and Freddie are Private Companies 9th Cir. Says

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just affirmed a district court's ruling that mega-mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private companies, not agents for purposes of the False Claims Act.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are Delaware corporations, so Delaware law applies to them. Since Net Worth Sweep is a violation under Delaware law, plaintiffs contend that the mortgage companies violate the law with Net Worth Sweep.

Wild bighorn sheep used to number in the millions, grazing along the steep cliffs of rocky mountains. But today, there are less than 70,000 left, their numbers having dwindled as a result of habitat loss, hunting, and disease spread from domestic sheep.

In order to prevent further decline to bighorn sheep populations in Idaho, the U.S. Forest Service closed about 70 percent domestic sheep grazing allotments in the Payette National Forest in Idaho. That closure was perfectly legal, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday, in response to a suit from Idaho wool growers.

Alaska Polar Bears Win in 9th Circuit Ruling

The Ninth Circuit just overturned a lower district court decision that favored Big Oil, thereby strengthening protections of critical Alaskan polar bear habitat.

The decision restores approximately 187,000 square miles of land-sea to protection under the Endangered Species Act and re-designates the area as "critical habitat" for polar bears.