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9th Circuit March 2018 News

'Liberal Lion' Judge Reinhardt Passes

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a prominent liberal judge of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, has died.

Appointed by President Carter 37 years ago, Reinhardt died unexpectedly when he suffered a heart attack at his dermatologist's office. He was 87.

Fellow jurists said he was "deeply principled, fiercely passionate" about his work. Judge Sidney R. Thomas, chief judge of the Ninth Circuit, said they lost a friend and a colleague.

PragerU's Censorship Lawsuit Against YouTube Tossed by Federal Judge

Dennis Prager, the conservative talk show host, talks too much.

That's more or less what YouTube said when it shut down videos by Prager University, which is not a school but a podium for conservative views. Apparently offended, the "university" sued for violation of free speech and moved for a preliminary injunction.

A federal judge told Prager to shut up. Not really, but sort of. Here's what the court actually said in Prager University v. Google:

A three judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the family and heirs of Marvin Gaye in the appeal filed by Robyn Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The pop stars appealed the district court's ruling on summary judgment as well as the court's handling of several issues at trial.

Unfortunately for the litigious pop stars, the Ninth Circuit panel ruled that there was no error at trial that could save them, and that the jury's verdict precludes the appeal of the summary judgment ruling. Notably though, rapper T.I. and Interscope Records, whom the jury returned not guilty verdicts for and the lower court held liable regardless, were let off the hook by the appellate panel.

SolarCity Mistake Escapes Class-Action Burn

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals spared Solar City an embarrassing loss, but also said it was a "mismanaged organization in need of closer financial oversight."

The decision scrolls back to the company's initial public offering in 2012, when it raised more than $92 million. It put the company up in a big way, later leading Tesla to buy it for $2.6 billion in 2016.

But there were those investors who lost money. In Webb v. SolarCity Corporation, they sued because the stock price dropped almost 30 percent in a month due to company accounting errors.

'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit Plays Out in Ninth Circuit

Randy California may have made it to heaven, but his lawsuit over the song "Stairway to Heaven" is stuck in federal court.

California, the late guitarist, claimed to have written a song that Led Zeppelin copied to record "Stairway to Heaven." Michael Skidmore brought the copyright infringement suit on his behalf, but a jury decided the songs were not substantially similar.

In arguments to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Skidmore's attorney said the trial judge erred by not allowing jurors to hear California's full composition. Perhaps the judge didn't like rock, but the appeals court wanted to hear more.

Naked Violinist Appeals to the Ninth Circuit

Matthew Mglej is not your ordinary street musician.

One fine day in Portland, Oregon, Mglej went to play his violin outside the federal courthouse. Before playing, however, he took off his clothes.

"He removed his suit and laid it out in a symbolic straw man metaphor to convey a message of transparency in government,'' his lawyer argued inside the courthouse. But as one judge said, nudity is transparent all by itself.

Youth Win 9th Circuit Ruling in Climate Change Case

There is a change in the weather, and it goes beyond climate change.

In a setback to an older generation, young people won a round in their lawsuit against the United States over global warming. They allege the government has knowingly let carbon dioxide destabilize the climate, and denied them the right to live in a habitable environment.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the government's motion to dismiss was premature, and remanded the case to the trial court. For the Trump administration, it's going to get a little hotter in Juliana et al v. United States

Sometimes the law is technical and cruel, and sometimes the law is technical and correct. Most people will probably come down on the latter side of that when it comes to the technical application of the law in the Adil Elmakhzoumi v. Sessions case.

In that matter, an immigrant seeking naturalization was rejected because of a prior conviction for sodomy without consent. On appeal, he argued that the law technically prohibited the naturalization of individuals with rape convictions, not sodomy without consent convictions. However, the Ninth Circuit rejected that argument and found that the definition of rape included sodomy without consent.

Court: Photographer Can't Copyright Michael Jordan's 'Jumpman' Pose

For all his fame, Michael Jordan is best known to basketball fans for his signature flight to the hoop.

"I Believe I Can Fly," the song, comes in a close second. But even that is based on his gravity-defying dunks that earned him the title of "His Airness."

"The Jumpman" also earned him a whole lot of money when Nike used the pose to create a logo for Air Jordan basketball shoes. A photographer who captured Jordan in the same pose wanted some of that, but he's not getting any in Rentmeester v. Nike, Inc.