Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

by
28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1) requires the consent of all plaintiffs and defendants named in the complaint—irrespective of service of process—before jurisdiction may vest in a magistrate judge to hear and decide a civil case that a district court would otherwise hear. The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the magistrate judge's dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit brought by a civil detainee, because consent was not obtained from defendants in this case. Therefore, the magistrate judge lacked jurisdiction to dismiss the complaint. View "Williams v. King" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Glassdoor's motion to quash a grand jury subpoena duces tecum requiring disclosure of identifying information of eight users who posted anonymous reviews about another company on its Internet website. A federal grand jury sought the identifying information from Glassdoor as part of its investigation into whether a government contractor was committing wire fraud and misuse of government funds. Glassdoor argued that complying with the subpoena would violate its users' First Amendment rights to associational privacy and anonymous speech. The panel held that the good faith test the Supreme Court established in Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972), was controlling in this case. The court held that there was no evidence that the grand jury's investigation of fraud, waste, and abuse by a third party in performing a government contract was being conducted in bad faith. View "United States v. Glassdoor, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law, alleging excessive use of force when a police officer shot and killed her son, Connor Zion. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants on all claims. In regard to the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim, the Ninth Circuit held that Officer Higgins did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment by emptying his weapon at Zion. However, the head stomps were different because a jury could reasonably find that Higgins knew or easily could have determined that he had already rendered Zion harmless. If so, a reasonable jury could also conclude that Higgins was acting out of anger or emotion rather than any legitimate law enforcement purpose. The panel reversed as to the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim. The panel affirmed as to the municipal liability claims and remanded the remaining claims for the district court to consider in the first instance. View "Zion v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

by
This petition for writ of mandamus arose in the context of a contested trademark action initiated by San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) against petitioners, over the use of the mark "comic-con" or "comic con." The Ninth Circuit granted the petition and vacated the district court's orders directing petitioners to prominently post on their social medial outlets its order prohibiting comments about the litigation on social media, dubbing this posting a "disclaimer." The panel held that the orders at issue were unconstitutional prior restraints on speech because they prohibit speech that poses neither a clear and present danger nor a serious and imminent threat to SDCC's interest in a fair trial. The panel explained that the well-established doctrines on jury selection and the court's inherent management powers provide an alternative, less restrictive, means of ensuring a fair trial. View "Dan Farr Productions v. USDC-CASD" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment invalidating Montana's limits of the amount of money individuals, political action committees, and political parties may contribute to candidates for state elective office, Montana Code Annotated 13-37-216. The panel held that Montana has shown the risk of actual or perceived quid pro quo corruption in Montana politics was more than "mere conjecture," which was the low bar that it must overcome. The panel also held that Montana's limits were "closely drawn" to serve the state's anti-corruption interest, and the limits were tailored to avoid favoring incumbents, not to curtail the influence of political parties, and to permit candidates to raise enough money to make their voices heard. View "Lair v. Motl" on Justia Law

by
Anthony Jones's parents filed suit against the Police Department and all of the officers involved in the restraining, tasing, and resulting death of Jones. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants on all claims. At issue on appeal were the claims against Officers Hatten and English. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to give plaintiffs a reasonable opportunity to substitute the proper party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17 and thus cure the defective complaint. The panel also held that a jury could reasonably conclude that the officers knew or should have known that their use of tasers created a substantial risk of serious injury or death, and thus there were triable issues of fact as to whether the officers' continuous and simultaneous tasing was reasonable under the circumstances, and whether the officers were on notice that the force they used could cause serious injury or death. Furthermore, there was clearly established Fourth Amendment law at the time of the tasing and a jury could reasonably conclude that the officers used excessive force. Therefore, the court reversed as to this issue. The panel affirmed as to the Fourteenth Amendment claim and the false arrest/imprisonment claims, but remanded as to the state law battery and negligence claims. View "Jones v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept." on Justia Law

by
The question of whether a particular constitutional right is "clearly established," as part of the qualified immunity analysis, is within the province of the judge. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's judgment in an action alleging that police officers used excessive force in a May Day protest. The panel held that the district court erred in submitting the "clearly established" inquiry to the jury. The panel held that the error was not harmless with respect to plaintiff's claims against Officer Fry and remanded to the district court with instructions for it to either employ a general verdict form, or submit special interrogatories to the jury regarding the disputed issues of material fact. The panel also held that the district court properly denied Officer Rees's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on qualified immunity where, based on the evidence presented at trial, the jury could have reasonably decided that Rees's use of the pepper spray against plaintiff was retaliatory. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees. View "Morales v. Fry" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief challenging petitioner's conviction and death sentence for four counts of first degree murder. The panel held that, because petitioner failed to prove that any of the eyewitnesses provided material, false testimony or that the prosecution knew they committed perjury, the state court's rejection of petitioner's Mooney-Napue claims relating to the eyewitnesses was neither contrary to clearly established federal law nor objectively unreasonable; the state court reasonably denied petitioner's claim that certain testimony from non-eyewitnesses was false; the state court reasonably denied petitioner's claims under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); the state court reasonably denied petitioner's claims relating to the exposure of two eyewitnesses; and the court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's habeas petition with respect to the Mesarosh claim, lineup card claim, Massiah claim, ineffective assistance of counsel claim, and cumulative error claim. View "Sanders v. Cullen" on Justia Law

by
A state court's alteration of the number of presentence credits to which a prisoner was entitled under California law constitutes a new, intervening judgment under Wentzell v. Neven, 674 F.3d 1124, 1125 (9th Cir. 2012). The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of a California state prisoner's habeas corpus petition and remanded for further proceedings. In this case, the amendment to the judgment was clearly a new judgment under Magwood v. Patterson, 561 U.S. 320, 341–42 (2010). The panel explained, so too, with the amendment to petitioner's presentence credits, and thus to his sentence. View "Gonzalez v. Sherman" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, three officers of Latino descent, filed suit against the City and Westminster Police Chiefs, alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race and religion. The jury awarded plaintiffs general and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and costs. The panel held that the district court properly denied the City's motion for a new trial and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether Plaintiff Flores failed to establish his claim of retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov't Code 12900–12996. In this case, the evidence at trial would permit a trier of fact to conclude he was subjected to adverse employment actions, that his protected conduct was a substantial motivating factor behind the adverse employment actions, and that the City's proffered reasons for its actions were pretextual. Accordingly, the panel affirmed as to this issue and also affirmed the jury's award of damages to Officer Flores on the FEHA retaliation claim. The panel further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in regard to evidentiary rulings, and the jury's verdict against two police chiefs for race discrimination was not fatally inconsistent. However, the panel vacated the judgment against Chief Mitchell Waller, who died before trial, and remanded to the district court to grant two officers leave to substitute the Chief's estate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a)(1). View "Flores v. City of Westminster" on Justia Law