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

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

Appeals are often able to correct miscarriages of justice. Sadly, sometimes the appellate court is bound by precedent, and is powerless to do so.

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with one such injustice in the Ellis v. Harrison matter. The defendant in the case, Ezzard Ellis, was represented by a racist attorney at trial. Sometime after Ellis was convicted, he discovered that his attorney was a racist and filed a habeas petition. The attorney's own daughters even provided evidence that their father was a racist. Unfortunately for Ellis, the court refused to grant his petition.

The Regents of the University of California succeeding in having a three year old Title IX case dismissed on summary judgment. Although the facts of the case are wildly disturbing, the federal district court found that the circumstances surrounding the sexual misconduct were so far out of the control of the university that it could not be held liable.

But before y'all go grab the pitchforks and start marching on the Berkeley administration buildings, the facts rather strongly support the dismissal on summary judgment.

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.

In a case that has entertained those who follow the entertainment industry, IMDb has won summary judgment against the state of California and the Screen Actors Guild. Generally, the case challenged a new law that would have prevented IMDb from publishing the ages of actors and actresses, upon a thespian's request, in order to fight against age discrimination in the industry.

The law was basically struck down last year when the district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced. And now, with the court's summary judgment ruling, the law is all but dead (unless it can be revived by some miraculous appeal, which will likely be filed based on SAG's response).

Court Upholds California Laws Against Prostitution

Sex sells, but that doesn't make prostitution legal.

That's a quick summary of Erotic Service Provider Legal Education and Research Project v. Gascon. The case drew a lot of attention -- because the plaintiff sued to legalize prostitution -- but the world's oldest profession was outlawed long ago.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said there's no fundamental right to engage in prostitution -- at least not in California.

For a handful of California retailers, a Ninth Circuit decision basically invalidates the state law prohibiting merchants from charging customers an additional fee, or surcharge, for using a credit card. Unfortunately for retailers across the state, the decision only applies to the parties to the action.

Under current California law, a retailer cannot charge customers more for using a credit card. Rather curiously and somewhat hypocritically, under the law, a retailer can legally offer a discount to cash paying customers. Basically, it all boils down to how the price and discount are communicated, which turns this into a First Amendment commercial speech issue.

Rarely do you read a court opinion that explicitly says that the court is reaching the wrong decision. But that is in fact what happened in the Ninth Circuit's recent opinion in the Frudden v. Pilling First Amendment school uniform case which has ping-ponged through the courts since 2011.

In the section aptly titled "Our Disagreement with the Result We Are Required to Reach" the court, not surprisingly, goes into detail as to why it disagrees with the very decision it is bound to render by its own precedent. Fortunately for the plaintiffs in the matter, two parents that objected to their children wearing the uniforms, that controversial decision held that the school's uniform policy was unconstitutional.

The Juliana v. United States matter was heard by a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week. And while some might expect that the most liberal circuit in the nation would have been throwing softballs to plaintiffs' attorney, the tenor of the questioning was equally harsh on both sides.

Notably, prior to the appeal, the Ninth Circuit issued a stay in the matter, pending their review. The case involves a group of children filing suit against the federal government due to its alleged actions that cause and contribute to climate change.

Glassdoor, the job posting website that allows visitors to post reviews about employers, has just been ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal to hand over the names of some anonymous reviewers.

Before you get too excited at the prospect of finally finding out which of your former admins talked trash about you, this case is a bit more compelling than the typical Yelp defamation matter. The federal government is seeking the names of former employees that left reviews implicating a business that was engaging in governmental fraud.

Orange County Excessive Force Case Revived

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, this video is worth at least 1 million.

Warning. This video contains graphic content and may not be suitable for some audiences. If you watch the video, the question is whether the officer used excessive force.

According to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, it is a question for a jury. That's if the case gets that far.