Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion for summary judgment in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging the use of excessive force. In this case, a sheriff's deputy fatally shot Andy Lopez, a thirteen-year-old who was holding a toy gun. The panel held that the deputy deployed deadly force while Andy was standing on the sidewalk holding a gun that was pointed down at the ground; the deputy shot Andy without having warned Andy that such force would be used, and without observing any aggressive behavior; and thus a reasonable jury could find that the deputy's use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable. The panel further held that, taking the facts as it was required to do on interlocutory appeal, the law was clearly established at the time of the shooting that the deputy's conduct was unconstitutional. Accordingly, the panel remanded for trial. View "Estate of Andy Lopez v. Gelhaus" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner was found guilty of four crimes involving the robbery and murder of the victim in a Las Vegas jewelry store and was sentenced to death. The panel held that the Supreme Court of Nevada's denial of petitioner's claims under Brady v. Maryland and Strickland v. Washington constituted an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent; petitioner was entitled to a writ of habeas corpus with respect to his convictions of burglary, robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, and murder with the use of a deadly weapon; and petitioner was not entitled to habeas relief as to the escape conviction because he has offered no reason to call the validity of that conviction into question. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Browning v. Baker" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the denial of qualified immunity to defendants on plaintiff's due process claim, and dismissed the denial of qualified immunity to defendants on plaintiff's First Amendment claim. Plaintiff, a former school principal, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the school district reduced his salary without due process and retaliated against him for speaking to an attorney about his evaluation. The court held that the district court erred in holding that Toppenish violated due process by failing to comply with procedures required under state law when it reduced plaintiff's salary. The panel explained that federal due process did not necessarily entitle a plaintiff to the same procedures provided by state law. The panel also held that it lacked jurisdiction at this stage to review the denial of qualified immunity as to plaintiff's First Amendment claim because the district court had found genuine issues of material fact existed regarding the claim. View "Roybal v. Toppenish School District" on Justia Law

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The framework in Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio, 471 U.S. 626, 651 (1985), applied beyond the context of preventing consumer deception. The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of the Associations' motion for a preliminary injunction that sought to enjoin the implementation of the City and County of San Francisco's ordinance that would require warnings about the health effects of certain sugar-sweetened beverages on specific types of fixed advertising within San Francisco. The panel held that, although there was no dispute that San Francisco has a substantial government interest in the health of its citizens, the Associations were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the ordinance was an unjustified or unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that might offend the First Amendment by chilling protected commercial speech. In regard to the remaining steps of the preliminary injunction test, the panel also held that the Associations have demonstrated a likelihood of suffering irreparable harm if the ordinance was allowed to go into effect; the balance of hardships tipped sharply in favor of the Associations; and a preliminary injunction was in the public interest here. View "American Beverage Assoc. v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Merritt L. Sharp III and Carol Sharp filed suit against officers for violation of their constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983, as well as California law. This case arose out of the execution of an arrest warrant for Merritt L. Sharp IV, the son of Sharp III and Carol. Sharp III was mistakenly arrested and detained instead of Sharp IV. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly denied qualified immunity on Sharp III's retaliation claim, and appropriately rejected all state-law immunities; the deputies were entitled to qualified immunity on Carol's retaliation claim and Sharp III's claims for the seizure of his person, the use of excessive force against him, and the search of his person, as well as plaintiffs' shared claim concerning the search of their home; and, although much of the conduct was unconstitutional, qualified immunity was nevertheless warranted on those claims in light of recent Supreme Court pronouncements and based on the failure by plaintiffs to identify sufficiently specific constitutional precedents to alert these officers that some of their particular conduct was unlawful. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sharp v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

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The use of force policy adopted by the City of Seattle does not violate the Second Amendment right of police officers to use firearms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense. The Ninth Circuit applied a two-step analysis and held that the policy was subject to Second Amendment protection because the policy—an employer policy that regulates a police officer's use of a department-issued firearm while on duty—did not resemble any of the "presumptively lawful" regulations recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 574–75, 635 (2008), and the parties have adduced no evidence that the policy imposed a restriction on conduct that falls outside the historical scope of the Second Amendment right to use a firearm for self-defense. The panel applied intermediate scrutiny to determine whether the policy violated the Second Amendment and held that there was a reasonable fit between the policy and Seattle's important interest in promoting the safety of the public and its police officers. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Second Amendment claim. The panel also affirmed the district court's dismissal of the remaining substantive due process and equal protection claims. View "Mahoney v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to two police officers in an action alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for unconstitutional seizures and use of excessive force. In this case, officers entered into a vacant apartment without a warrant and used deadly force on Michael Duncklee, who aggressively attacked them while growling and brandishing a broken hockey stick inside the apartment. The panel reversed the denial of qualified immunity regarding the warrantless entry and seizure of the apartment, because Duncklee had no reasonable expectation of privacy while trespassing in the apartment. The panel also reversed the denial of qualified immunity regarding the seizure of and use of force on Duncklee, because it was not clearly established that defendants' actions violated a constitutional right. Finally, the panel reversed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff. View "Woodward v. City of Tucson" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action challenging California Health and Safety Code 25982. Section 25982 bans the sale of products made from force-fed birds, such as foie gras. The panel held that section 25982 is not expressly preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), because the PPIA prohibited states from imposing "ingredient requirements" that were "in addition to, or different than" the federal law. In this case, the ordinary meaning of "ingredient" and the purpose and scope of the PPIA together made clear that "ingredient requirements" pertain to the physical components that comprise a poultry product, not animal husbandry or feeding practices. The panel also held that the PPIA impliedly preempted section 25982 under the doctrines of field and obstacle preemption. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's permanent injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment in favor of DOE in a suit filed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Plaintiff, the parent of J.B., filed suit individually and on behalf of J.B., challenging J.B.'s individualized education plan (IEP). The panel held that the case was not moot; DOE violated the IDEA by failing to address transition services in the proposed IEP; DOE violated the IDEA by failing to specify in the IEP the Least Restrictive Environment during the regular and extended school year, and the IEP did not detail the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of the proposed specialized instruction in J.B.'s Science and Social Studies activities; nothing in 20 U.S.C. 1414(d) indicates that an IEP must specify the qualifications or training of service providers nor was it established in the record that DOE agreed to provide such an aide at the IEP meeting; and DOE violated the IDEA by failing to specify Applied Behavioral Analysis as a methodology in the IEP. View "R. B. v. Hawaii Department of Education" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief in petitioner's death penalty case where he was convicted of kidnapping and first degree murder. The panel rejected petitioner's argument that the Arizona Supreme Court's adjudication of his Eighth Amendment claim was contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court; law enforcement misconduct claim; and two ineffective assistance of counsel claims regarding the failure to develop information regarding the victim's bones and the failure to present evidence from mental health experts. View "Atwood v. Ryan" on Justia Law