United States v. Bryant, Jr.

Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of domestic assault by a habitual offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. 117(a). On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that using his tribal court convictions to satisfy an element of section 117(a) violates his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The court concluded that the government waived its argument that defendant failed to make an evidentiary showing that his tribal court convictions were uncounseled. The court held, under United States v. Ant, that the government may not rely on tribal court convictions as predicate offenses in section 117(a) prosecutions unless the tribal court afforded the same right to counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment in federal and state prosecutions. In this case, defendant's relevant tribal convictions do not meet this standard and the charges against him must be dismissed. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Bryant, Jr." on Justia Law

PRMA v. County of Alameda

Plaintiffs, non-profit organizations representing the manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products, filed suit challenging the Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance, which requires that prescription drug manufacturers, who either sell, offer for sale, or distribute "Covered Drugs" in Alameda, operate and finance a "Product Stewardship Program." The court concluded that the Ordinance, both on its face and in effect, does not discriminate because it applies to all manufacturers that make their drugs available in Alameda County - without respect to the geographic location of the manufacturer; the Ordinance does not directly regulate interstate commerce where it does not control conduct beyond the boundaries of the county; under the balancing test in Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., the court concluded that, without any evidence that the Ordinance will affect the interstate flow of goods, the Ordinance does not substantially burden interstate commerce; and therefore, the Ordinance does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "PRMA v. County of Alameda" on Justia Law

Deck v. Jenkins

Petitioner, convicted in state court of one count of an attempted lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, sought review of the district court's dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition. Petitioner alleged that the prosecutorial misstatements during rebuttal closing argument deprived him of a fair trial. The court concluded that the prosecutor's misstatements were not inadvertent or isolated. Rather, it is clear that the erroneous assertions of law in the prosecutor's closing rebuttal argument were not mere "stray words," and that they were a direct response to the central theory of petitioner's case. Further, the trial court did not correct the prosecutor's misstatements and the evidence concerning the temporal aspect of petitioner's intent was not overwhelming. The court expressed grave doubt as to whether the error had a substantial or injurious effect or influence on the jury's verdict. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions. View "Deck v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

De Jesus Velasquez-Escovar v. Holder

Petitioner sought review of the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's denial of petitioner's motion to reopen. Immigration officials had failed to properly record petitioner's correct address and, instead, recorded another outdated address. Petitioner's notice to appear for her deportation hearing was sent to the outdated address. Consequently, petitioner failed to appear and was ordered removed in absentia. Upon learning about the order, petitioner moved to reopen. The court concluded that the BIA abused its discretion when it decided that petitioner was not entitled to notice under the immigration statutes. The BIA concluded that petitioner "did not" provide her current address after acknowledging that she claims she did. The BIA acted arbitrarily because it gives not reason for discounting petitioner's claim where the claim was facially plausible and supported by her declaration. Further, the BIA abused its discretion in concluding that petitioner was required to "ensure that the correct address was written down" instead of that she was required to "ensure that the correct address was supplied." Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review. View "De Jesus Velasquez-Escovar v. Holder" on Justia Law

Mendia v. Garcia, et al.

Plaintiff filed suit against two ICE agents, seeking damages for the time he spent in pre-trial detention on state criminal charges allegedly as a result of the agents' wrongful acts. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss based on lack of standing. Plaintiff appealed, alleging that he needed the assistance of a bail bondsman to post the required bail and that he unsuccessfully tried to secure such assistance. The court concluded that plaintiff has adequately alleged that his inability to utilize the services of a bail bondsman caused him to remain in pre-trial detention unnecessarily, at least during the period in which the bail condition remained in effect. Plaintiff's complaint expressly alleged that every bail bondsman he contacted told him why: "because of the immigration detainer." Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "Mendia v. Garcia, et al." on Justia Law

King Mountain Tobacco Co. v. McKenna

King Mountain and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation filed suit against the Attorney General for declaratory and injunctive relief from Washington's escrow statute, Wash. Rev. Code 70.157.005-70.157.030, which requires King Mountain to place money into escrow to reimburse the State for health care costs related to the use of tobacco products. The district court granted summary judgment for the state. The court affirmed, concluding that Washington's escrow statute is a nondiscriminatory law and King Mountain's activities are largely off-reservation; the plain text of the Yakama Treaty does not create a federal exemption from Washington's escrow statute; and the district court did not err by declining to make findings regarding the Treaty's meaning to the Yakama people at the time of its signing because the meaning of the Yakama people cannot overcome the clear words of the Treaty. View "King Mountain Tobacco Co. v. McKenna" on Justia Law

Armstrong v. Brown

Plaintiffs, a class of disabled state prisoners and parolees, filed suit seeking disability accommodations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. 701. On appeal, the State challenged a 2012 order where the district court modified the accountability provisions of an earlier injunction ordering the State to take specified steps to ensure that disabled inmates were provided with needed accommodations. The court rejected the State's contention that the injunction was issued without notice and an opportunity for it to respond; the State waived the arguments that the statewide scope of the Modified Injunction is unsupported by the evidence and that the Modified Injunction conflicts with various state laws and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA); the evidence was insufficient to warrant systemwide relief and the court declined to exercise its discretion in considering such arguments; the Modified Injunction does not violate the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. 3626; and the sections setting forth the expert witness' authority and duties, Sections D.2 and D.3, are invalid. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Armstrong v. Brown" on Justia Law

EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Co.

Peabody mines coal on the Hopi and Navajo reservations in Arizona under leases with the tribes. The EEOC filed suit alleging, among other things, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-8(c), prohibits the tribal hiring preference contained in the Peabody leases. The district court granted summary judgment against the EEOC on the merits. The court affirmed, concluding that the Navajo hiring preference in the leases at issue is a political classification, rather than a classification based on national origin, and therefore does not violate Title VII. Further, the EEOC waived on appeal its record-keeping claim and the district court acted within its discretion in denying the EEOC's motion to supplement the record. View "EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Co." on Justia Law

Friends of the Wild Swan v. Weber

These consolidated appeals concern challenges to two logging projects in Montana's Flathead National Project: (1) the Weber case challenged the Forest Service's decision to authorize the Spotted Bear River Project, and (2) the Christiansen case challenged the Soldier Addition II Project. Wild Swan appealed the district court's denial of preliminary injunctions in both cases. The court affirmed the denial of the preliminary injunction because Wild Swan has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., claim where Wild Swan failed to demonstrate that the Forest Service acted arbitrarily in delineating the geographic boundaries of its cumulative effects analysis with respect to the lynx and grizzly bear; the Forest Service sufficiently addressed the effects of each project on the fisheries, but even if the Forest Service should have considered the cumulative impact of both worst-case sediment scenarios on the main channel of the South Fork, there is no immediate risk of irreparable injury justifying preliminary injunction; the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Wild Swan has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its National Forest Management Act (NFMA), 16 U.S.C. 1604, claims, nor has plaintiff raised serious questions on the merits of this claim; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining Wild Swan has not demonstrated a likelihood of success or serious questions on the merits of its Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531, claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Friends of the Wild Swan v. Weber" on Justia Law

Retail Prop. Trust v. UBCJA

The Mall filed suit in state court alleging state-law claims for trespass and nuisance. The Union removed to federal court on the ground that the Mall had alleged the equivalent of unlawful secondary boycott activity in violation of the section 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 187. At issue was whether section 303 preempts state-law claims for trespass and private nuisance related to union conduct that may also constitute secondary boycott activity. The court held that federal law does not so thoroughly occupy the field that it always preempts such claims, nor does it conflict with the state law claims in this case. Where state claims of trespass and nuisance touch interests deeply rooted in local feeling and responsibility, and the plaintiff seeks only to enforce time, place, and manner restrictions against union protesters, the court was unwilling to presume that Congress intended to deprive the California courts of jurisdiction to hear the nuisance and trespass actions. The court found the Seventh Circuit's decision contrary to precedent and disagreed with the Seventh Circuit's decision in Smart v. Local 702 Intl' Bhd. of Elec. Workers. Accordingly, the court reversed the grant of defendant's motion to dismiss and remanded for further proceedings. View "Retail Prop. Trust v. UBCJA" on Justia Law