Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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In 2007, Appellants, commercial fishers, were stopped by officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) while driving on a public highway. The officers pulled Appellants’ vehicle over to check for compliance with fish and game laws. The inspection failed to reveal any fish and game violations. Appellants filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the WDFW officers violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by stopping and searching their automobile and harassing them over the years. The district court dismissed the case, concluding (1) qualified immunity precluded Appellants’ Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim because the law regarding warrantless stops by WDFW officers was not clearly established at the time of the stop; and (2) the relevant statute of limitations barred Appellants’ Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the stop violated Appellants’ clearly established Fourth Amendment rights, and therefore, the WDFW officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on Appellants’ Fourth Amendment claim; and (2) the district court correctly dismissed Appellants’ substantive due process claim. Remanded. View "Tarabochia v. Adkins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a teacher in the United States Forest Service’s Job Corps Program, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records pertaining to an investigation into misconduct allegations. The Forest Service located responsive pages but withheld almost half of them under the personal privacy exemption. An administrative appeal resulted in the disclosure of 188 pages of heavily-redacted documents. Plaintiff filed suit, challenging the redactions. The district court ordered the Forest Service to create a Vaughn index describing each document and explaining why each document was exempt from disclosure. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and remanded with instructions to order the government to produce a more detailed Vaughn index with regard to two categories of documents, and if that was not sufficient, to conduct an in camera review. The Court held that the remaining redactions were proper. View "Kowack v. United States Forest Serv." on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted in California state court of murder and related offenses. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his Batson motion because the prosecution engaged in purposeful discrimination when it exercised four peremptory strikes against Hispanic venirepersons. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions. Thereafter, Petitioner applied for habeas relief. The district court denied the application, determining that the prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges did not violate Petitioner’s federal constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant the application, holding (1) under the totality of the circumstances, the prosecutor’s factually-erroneous reason for striking Venireperson 4968 was pretextual; and (2) the state court’s finding to the contrary amounted to an “unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented.” View "Castellanos v. Small" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair, filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA), Cal. Civ. Code 54 et seq., against the City because none of the City's public on-street parking is accessible to people with disabilities. The district court denied the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the broad language of the ADA requires public entities to ensure that all services, including on-street parking, are reasonably accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The district court then granted the City's motion to certify the order for interlocutory appeal and the City petitioned for leave to appeal. The text of the ADA, the relevant implementing regulations, and the DOJ's interpretation of its own regulations all lead the court to conclude that public entities must ensure that all normal governmental functions are reasonably accessible to disabled persons, irrespective of whether the DOJ has adopted technical specifications for the particular types of facilities involved. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff has stated a claim under the ADA and the CDPA based on the City's alleged failure to provide accessible on-street diagonal stall parking. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Fortyune v. City of Lomita" on Justia Law

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After law enforcement officers arrested Defendant they obtained a warrant to search his home. The search of Defendant’s home resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs and firearms. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. On appeal, Defendant argued that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest him, and because the search warrant was based on information acquired as a result of his unlawful arrest, the warrant was invalid and the evidence discovered during the search must be suppressed. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Defendant’s suppression motion, holding (1) although Defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause, the manner in which the officers made the arrest violated Payton v. New York; (2) evidence obtained as a result of Defendant’s unlawful arrest must be suppressed, and the remaining untainted evidence did not provide probable cause to issue a warrant; and (3) consequently, the entire warrant was invalid, and all evidence seized pursuant to it must be suppressed. View "United States v. Nora" on Justia Law

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In 2009, a confidential informant told Anaheim police officer Stauber that Cruz was a gang member who sold methamphetamine and carried a gun. Stauber determined that Cruz had prior convictions including a felony involving a firearm. Later, the informant told Stauber where Cruz was, what his vehicle looked like, that he was armed and carried in his waistband, and that he had stated that “he was not going back to prison.” Stauber notified other officers, who converged on Cruz’s location. Officers noticed that Cruz’s vehicle had a broken tail light, executed a traffic stop, and surrounded him in a parking lot. Cruz attempted to escape, backing his SUV into a patrol car, but eventually stopped. The officers emerged with weapons drawn and shouted for Cruz to get on the ground as he was emerging from the vehicle. According to four officers, he ignored their commands and reached for his waistband. Fearing that he was reaching for a gun, five officers fired 20 shots. A bystander witnessed most of the event from the other side of Cruz’s vehicle, but didn’t see whether Cruz reached for his waistband. After they ceased firing, the officers approached to find Cruz’s body tangled in and hanging from his seatbelt. Cutting the body loose, they found no weapon, but a loaded nine-millimeter was later recovered from the passenger seat. Cruz’s relatives sued. The district court granted defendants summary judgment, finding that plaintiffs had not presented anything to contest the officers’ version of events. The Ninth Circuit reversed, except as to one officer, noting “curious and material factual discrepancies.” View "Cruz v. City of Anaheim" on Justia Law

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Rashdan, an Egyptian dentist, enrolled in a program to credential her for practice in the U.S. Three months before graduation, Rashdan followed her clinical supervisor’s instructions to seat a crown, but the procedure was unsuccessful. The head of the restorative dentistry program, Geissberger, heard about the failed procedure, and told Rashdan, within earshot of others, that her “clinical work ... was ‘Third World Dentistry.’” Later, another supervisor greeted Rashdan saying, “What’s up, TW?” then stated: “Don’t you get it? ... Third World?” Days before graduation, Rashdan was informed that despite adequate academic work, she was not recommended for graduation and that she would have to remediate in restorative dentistry and removable prosthodontics. Rashdan entered an additional quarter of clinical work at no extra cost; her performance did not improve. Evaluators stated that she was actively harming patients. Faculty members exchanged emails about her poor performance, and recommended that Rashdan pursue an additional quarter of remedial work on models, after which she could return to work on patients. Rather than appeal the plan or begin remediation, Rashdan took a leave of absence and filed suit, claiming national origin discrimination in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000d. The district court rejected the claim on summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the McDonnell Douglas framework for disparate treatment claims under Title VII applied to the Title VI claim. Rashdan did not establish a prima facie case of national origin discrimination. View "Rashdan v. Geissberger" on Justia Law

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ISKCON appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), manager Stephen Yee, and the LAX police chief, on ISKCON's claim that section 23.27(c) of the Los Angeles Administrative Code - which bans continuous or repetitive solicitation for the immediate receipt of funds at LAX, a nonpublic forum - violated the First Amendment. Major international airports have a legitimate interest in controlling pedestrian congestion and reducing the risk of fraud and duress attendant to repetitive, in-person solicitation for the immediate receipt of funds. The court held that the ordinance acts as a reasonable restriction on protected speech under the First Amendment because it was limited in nature and leaves open alternative channels for ISKCON to raise money. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "ISKCON v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed from the district court's dismissal of their 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint alleging that defendants violated plaintiffs' First Amendment right to freedom of religion by forcing them to provide direct staff support to a developmentally disabled client who wished to attend Jehovah's Witness services. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint against Defendant Matsushita because plaintiffs failed to allege specific facts against Matsushita other than to identify her title; the district court's holding that defendants' interpretation of the Lanterman Act, Cal. Welf. & Ins. Code 4500-4906, and its regulations, did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and the district court's denial of leave to amend because of futility of amendment. The court adopted the district court's well-reasoned and comprehensive disposition. View "Williams v. State of California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her union appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment on their First Amendment retaliation claims. Defendants cross-appealed a later order denying them attorneys' fees. The court remanded so that the district court could evaluate on a more detailed basis the incidents that it dismissed collectively as "petty workplace gripes" where there was evidence suggesting that some of these actions were taken as part of a more general campaign and hence might in context have greater materiality than when viewed in isolation. The court concluded that plaintiffs carried their burden of production sufficient to survive summary judgment as to the three involuntary transfers at issue. Plaintiffs presented a genuine factual dispute as to whether an internal investigation was retaliatory. Further, the district court erred in determining that defendant County was not subject to Monell liability. Defendants' cross-appeal is moot. The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Thomas v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law