Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging California Penal Code 28225 on Second Amendment grounds, alleging that California's allocation of $5 of a $19 fee on firearms transfers to fund enforcement efforts against illegal firearm purchasers was unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit held that, even assuming the collection and use of the fee fell within the scope of the Second Amendment, the fee survived intermediate scrutiny because of the State's important interest in promoting public safety and disarming prohibited persons, and because there was a reasonable fit between these important objectives and the challenged fees. Because section 28225 did not violate the constitution, the panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the State. View "Bauer v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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If the government seeks to shackle a defendant, it must first justify the infringement with specific security needs as to that particular defendant. Before a presumptively innocent defendant may be shackled, the court must make an individualized decision that a compelling government purpose would be served and that shackles are the least restrictive means for maintaining security and order in the courtroom. The Ninth Circuit construed defendants' appeal as petitions for writs of mandamus under its supervisory authority and found that it had jurisdiction to consider them. The en banc court held that there was still a live controversy over the shackling policy and the case was not moot because of the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exception to mootness. The en banc court clarified the right to be free from shackles and held that it applies whether the proceeding is pretrial, trial, or sentencing, with a jury or without. Although the en banc court held that the policy was unconstitutional, the court withheld the issuance of a formal writ of mandamus. View "United States v. Sanchez-Gomez" on Justia Law

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M.N. filed a due process complaint alleging that the District committed procedural and substantive violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400(d)(1)(A). The ALJ denied all claims and the district court affirmed. The Ninth Circuit filed an amended opinion reversing the district court's judgment, holding that neither the duration of the hearing, the ALJ's active involvement, nor the length of the ALJ's opinion can ensure that the ALJ was thorough and careful in its findings of fact; plaintiffs' claim that the District committed a procedural violation of the IDEA by failing to adequately document its offer of the visually impaired (TVI) services was not waived; the District committed two procedural violations as to the individualized education plan (IEP); the District's failure to specify the assistive technology (AT) devices that were provided infringed M.N.'s opportunity to participate in the IEP process and denied the student a free appropriate education (FAPE); the panel remanded for a determination of the prejudice the student suffered as a result of the District's failure to respond to the complaint and the award of appropriate compensation; in regard to substantive violations, the panel remanded so the district court could consider plaintiffs' claims in light of new guidance from the Supreme Court in Endrew F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist., 137 S. Ct. 988 (2017); and M.N., as the prevailing party, was entitled to attorneys' fees. View "M.C. v. Antelope Valley Union High School District" on Justia Law

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Although 28 U.S.C. 1448 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) give plaintiffs additional time to effect service of process, these rules do not extend or revive a state statute of limitations that expired before removal. If the period of time for bringing an action expired under state law before the action was removed to federal court, a defendant can raise the state statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in federal court. Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging federal civil rights and negligence claims after plaintiff was injured by a flash-bang grenade a deputy threw during the execution of a warrant at plaintiff's house. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's suit based on statute of limitations grounds. In this case, although section 1448 and Rule 4(m) allowed plaintiff to serve process on defendants after removal, these laws did not change the period of time for commencing an action under the state statute of limitations. The panel explained that, because the time for commencing the action expired before the case was removed to federal court, defendants were entitled to raise the state statute of limitations as an affirmative defense. View "Whidbee v. Pierce County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff is a street performer. She and her friend were arrested and charged with conducting business without a license, because they were dressed in "sexy cop" outfits on the Las Vegas strip and posed for photos with the officers in exchange for a tip. After the charges were dropped, plaintiff filed suit against the officers, alleging eleven federal and state causes of action. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for the officers because the district court misconceived the scope of the applicable First Amendment protections. The record indicated the officers had no evidence before them when they decided to arrest plaintiff that suggested that the "sexy cops" association had any purpose that could have fallen outside the protection of the First Amendment under Berger v. City of Seattle. To infer from plaintiff and her friend's shared costumes and joint performance, alone, an agreement to engage in a regulable transaction impermissibly burdens the right to engage in purely expressive activity and association. The panel held that something more than that constitutionally protected activity is required to justify plaintiff's arrest. Viewing plaintiff's activities separately from her friend's, the panel held that summary judgment for the officers was improper because plaintiff's actions were entirely protected speech. The panel reversed in part and remanded in part. View "Santopietro v. Howell" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Montana Supreme Court: Whether, under Montana law, the public duty doctrine shields a law enforcement officer from liability for negligence where the officer is the direct and sole cause of the harm suffered by the plaintiff? View "Bassett v. Lamantia" on Justia Law

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Section 1915A of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. 1915A, applies only to claims brought by individuals incarcerated at the time they file their complaints. Plaintiff, a former prisoner, filed suit against defendants, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment and various state laws for injuries he suffered, and the medical treatment he received, after he was struck by shotgun pellets that officers fired. The district court dismissed the complaint. In this case, plaintiff was not incarcerated at the time he filed the complaint and thus should not have been subjected to Section 1915A screening. Therefore, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded. View "Olivas v. Nevada" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a death row inmate, appealed the dismissal of his claims that the ADC policy and practice of inspecting inmates' outgoing legal mail violates his Sixth and First Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit reversed and held that ADC's current inspection policy does not satisfy the standard articulated in Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 906 (9th Cir. 2014) (Nordstrom I). The panel explained that the standard was not satisfied because the policy calls for page-by-page content review of inmates' confidential outgoing legal mail. The policy also does not satisfy the four-part test identified in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89–91 (1987), because ADC did not produce evidence of a threat to prison security sufficient to justify its policy, and because feasible, readily available alternatives were apparent. View "Nordstrom v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the denial of his petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241, contending that a congressional appropriations rider prohibits the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) from using federal funds to incarcerate him and seeking release from custody to remedy the wrongful expenditure. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of habeas relief, holding that petitioner voluntarily waived his right to bring this challenge through the collateral-attack waiver provision of his plea agreement. View "Davies v. Benov" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendants, alleging that a sheriff's deputy used excessive force when he shot and killed David Brown in his home. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity to the deputy. The panel held that, although a reasonable juror could find a Fourth Amendment violation in this case, it was not clearly established at the time that using deadly force in this situation would constitute excessive force. In this case, the district court did not have the benefit of White v. Pauly, and the cases that plaintiffs cited to did not satisfy White's exacting standard; nor does this case involve an obvious or run-of-the-mill violation. Therefore, the deputy was immune from liability under section 1983 for his use of deadly force. View "S. B. v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law