Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. 3565(c), conditions the “power of the court” to adjudicate probation violations after the probation period expires on the issuance of “a warrant or summons” before the expiration date. The court held that section 3565(c) is jurisdictional and that when Congress used the words “warrant or summons,” it meant them. If the government suspects wrongdoing and wants to extend the probation period, section 3565(c) provides easy-to-follow instructions: get a warrant or summons before the probation expires. Because the government did not do so, the district court lacked jurisdiction to extend defendant's probation beyond its termination date. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated the district court’s post-termination order revoking defendant’s probation and imposing penalties for purported probation violations. View "United States v. Pocklington" on Justia Law
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Defendant conditionally plead guilty to being a previously removed alien illegally found in the United States in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). On appeal, defendant contended that the district court erred in concluding that he failed to demonstrate that his expedited removal in 2012 was fundamentally unfair; and in refusing to order the government to produce statistics about the numbers of individuals with a background similar to his who were granted a form of discretionary relief. The court concluded that defendant failed to demonstrate that his 2012 expedited removal was fundamentally unfair where, even assuming the existence of a due process violation, defendant has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating prejudice flowing from such violation. Defendant failed to demonstrate that absent such violation, relief in the form of withdrawal of application of admission was plausible. Further, the statistics defendant sought are not presently available and can not be accurately compiled even with the expenditure of significant resources. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Garcia-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of first degree murder, appealed the denial of his motion to stay and abey his 28 U.S.C. 2254 habeas corpus petition while he exhausted some of his claims in state court. The court held that, in the context of a section 2254 habeas petition, this type of motion is generally (but not always) dispositive as to the unexhausted claims. When it is dispositive, a magistrate judge is without authority to “hear and determine” such a motion, but rather must submit a report and recommendation to the district court. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the habeas corpus petition and remanded for further proceedings. View "Mitchell v. Valenzuela" on Justia Law
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Petitioner moved to stay and abey his petition while he exhausted a claim that was not yet a part of his federal habeas petition. The court held that petitioner’s motion was likewise dispositive of that new unexhausted claim, such that the magistrate judge was without authority to “hear and determine” it, but rather was required to submit a report and recommendation to the district court. Further, the court rejected petitioner’s argument that the magistrate judge lacked authority to grant petitioner's request to remove two unexhausted claims from his petition. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the habeas corpus petition and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bastidas v. Chappell" on Justia Law
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Lender challenged the district court's denial of Lender's appeal from the bankruptcy court's order confirming a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization based on equitable mootness grounds. At issue was whether a lender that made colorable objections to a plan of reorganization in bankruptcy court and then diligently sought a stay in order to litigate those objections may obtain review of its objections on appeal even though the plan has been implemented. The court held that the lender’s objections are not equitably moot and should be considered on appeal because it would be possible to devise an equitable remedy to at least partially address the lender’s objections without unfairly impacting third parties or entirely unraveling the plan. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "JPMCC 2007-C1 Grasslawn Lodging v. Transwest Resort Properties" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs, veterans' organizations and individuals subject to U.S. military chemical and biological weapons experiments, filed an individual and class action complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the DOD, the Army, the CIA, and the VA. Two of plaintiffs’ claims, brought under section 706(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(1), are at issue in this appeal: first, the Army has unlawfully failed to notify test subjects of new medical and scientific information relating to their health as it becomes available; and second, the Army has unlawfully withheld medical care for diseases or conditions proximately caused by their exposures to chemicals during the experiments. The court held that Chapter 3–2(h) of AR 70-25 imposes a duty on the Army to provide all former test subjects with newly acquired information that may affect their well-being, and that this duty is judicially enforceable under section 706(1); the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering its injunction to enforce that duty; the district court was right to find that Chapter 3–1(k) imposes a duty to provide medical care; but, the district court did not, however, have the power to decline to compel care on the ground that another agency was providing similar care to some former test subjects. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court’s summary judgment for the government on this claim and remanded to the district court. View "Vietnam Veterans of America v. CIA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming violation of his Eighth Amendment rights by use of excessive force by prison guards. At issue was a claim that a threat of retaliatory action by a prison guard had the effect of rendering the prison grievance system unavailable so as to excuse the prisoner’s failure to meet the time limitation for filing a grievance. As a preliminary matter, the court held that exhaustion issues must instead generally be decided on a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. The court joined other circuits in holding that fear of retaliation may be sufficient to render the inmate grievance procedure unavailable, and the court approved the test applied in the Eleventh Circuit that requires both a subjective and objective basis for the fear. In this case, the court held that plaintiff failed to show an objective basis for his belief that prison officials would retaliate against him for filing a grievance. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint. View "McBride v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, applying advantage gambling techniques, won a significant amount of money on video blackjack machines at a casino owned and operated by the Tonto Apache Tribe on tribal land. Plaintiffs filed suit against the tribal defendants, seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violations of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and under state tort law for battery, false imprisonment, conversion, defamation, trespass to chattels, and negligence. The district court denied defendants' motion to dismiss. At issue was whether tribal officers may assert tribal sovereign immunity when sued in their individual capacities for an assertedly unconstitutional detention and seizure of property. The court concluded that sovereign immunity is a quasi-jurisdictional issue that, if invoked at the Rule 12(b)(1) stage, must be addressed and decided; the district court erred in concluding that it could deny the tribal defendants’ Rule 12(b)(1) motion even if they were entitled to tribal sovereign immunity; the tribal defendants are not entitled to tribal sovereign immunity, however, because they are being sued in their individual capacities, rather than in their official capacities, for actions taken in the course of their official duties; and whether the tribal defendants were acting under state or tribal law does not matter for purposes of this analysis, although it will matter for purposes of deciding whether plaintiffs can succeed in their section 1983 claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Pistor v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, charged in a fifty-count indictment, petitioned for a writ of mandamus, seeking an order directing the district court not to condition its acceptance of the parties’ plea agreement on the government’s obtaining consent from alleged victims before dismissing the remaining counts and seeking an order that would prevent the district court from conditioning the United States Attorney’s dismissal of the remaining counts in the indictment on a showing that the government would struggle to prove petitioner’s guilt on those counts, as well as seeking reassignment to a different district judge to preserve the appearance of justice. The court concluded that the district court erred by adding a particular term to the plea agreement and inserting itself into the parties' plea discussions and concluded that the Bauman v. United States District Court factors weigh in favor of granting mandamus relief. In this case, the court concluded that the appearance of justice will best be served by reassignment to a different judge. Accordingly, the court granted the petition and ordered that the case be reassigned to another district judge. View "Benvin v. USDC NVR" on Justia Law
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The United States filed a petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district judge’s policy restricting the pro hac vice admission of government attorneys. After the petition was filed, the district judge reversed his previous order denying an attorney in this case pro hac vice admission. The court concluded that the case was not moot and that the controversy remains live where it was reasonably likely that the judge will again deny the pro hac vice applications of attorneys for the United States; while the reversal of the challenged order did not render this controversy moot, it rendered a formal writ of mandamus a superfluous or ineffective remedy here; in this case, the judge acted outside his discretion by failing to provide a valid reason to deny the attorney's application for pro hac vice admission; the judge committed clear error; the first and second Bauman v. U.S. District Court factors weighed in favor of issuing mandamus when the petition was filed, and weigh in favor of offering guidance to the district court; the fact that the judge's order in this case was not an isolated occurrence weighed in favor of granting mandamus relief when the petition was filed; the district court's order raises important problems or issues of first impression and weighed in favor of mandamus relief when the petition was filed and weighs in favor of offering guidance to the district court even though a formal writ is no longer necessary; and issuing a formal writ would have been an appropriate remedy but for the judge’s voluntary cessation. Accordingly, the court denied the petition without prejudice. View "USA V. USDC-NVR" on Justia Law