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The Ninth Circuit certified the following questions to the California Supreme Court: Does section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code void a contract by which a business is restrained from engaging in a lawful trade or business with another business? Is a plaintiff required to plead an independently wrongful act in order to state a claim for intentional interference with a contract that can be terminated by a party at any time, or does that requirement apply only to at-will employment contracts? View "Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioners' joint petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioners contend that the recently enacted First Step Act's amendment to the good time provision requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to recalculate their sentences immediately. The panel held that the Act's good time credit amendment did not take immediate effect upon enactment but will become effective with the establishment of the "risk and needs assessment system" on July 19, 2019. The panel stated that Congress provided "clear direction" in paragraph 102(b)(2) to delay the implementation of the good time credit amendment until the Attorney General establishes the "risk and needs assessment system." Furthermore, the delay was not a drafting oversight and the delay did not violate the Constitution. View "Bottinelli v. Salazar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the City in an action challenging the DOJ's use of certain factors in determining scores for applicants to a competitive grant program. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program allocates a limited pool of funds to state and local applicants under the Public Safety Partnership and Community Policing Act, enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. In this case, the DOJ gives additional points to an applicant that chooses to focus on the illegal immigration area (instead of other focus areas) and gives additional points to an applicant who agrees to the Certification of Illegal Immigration Cooperation. After determining that the case was not moot and that the City had Article III standing, the panel held that the DOJ's use of these two factors in evaluating for the competitive grant program did not violate the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution, did not exceed the DOJ's statutory authority, and did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act. View "City of Los Angeles v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After Hamas fired rockets from Gaza into Israel, Universal moved the production of their televisions series out of Jerusalem at significant expense. Universal filed an insurance claim for coverage of those costs under a television production insurance policy and the insurer, Atlantic, denied coverage based on the policy's war exclusions. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Atlantic in part and held that Atlantic breached its contract when it denied coverage by defining Hamas' conduct as "war" or "warlike action by a military force." Because the district court did not address the third war exclusion regarding whether Hamas' actions constituted "insurrection, rebellion, or revolution," the panel remanded for the district court to address that question in the first instance. Consequently, the panel vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment on Universal's bad faith claim because it turned on the district court's erroneous analysis of the first two war exclusions. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Universal Cable Productions, LLC v. Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for conspiracy to use interstate telephone calls in the commission of a murder-for-hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1958. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that defendant's promise to forgive an uncollectable debt satisfies the pecuniary value requirement of section 1958. The panel held that the pecuniary value requirement does not require the murder-for-hire agreement to comport with contract rules, as Congress did not aim section 1958 only at murderous businessmen. In this case, defendant's promise of loan forgiveness satisfied section 1958's pecuniary value requirement. In so holding, the panel joined its sister circuits' understanding that section 1958 does not require that the promised economic advantage be enforceable. View "United States v. Phillips" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The panel held that defendant's prior conviction for battery resulting in serious bodily injury, in violation of section 243(d) of the California Penal Code, qualifies as a "crime of violence" as defined in USSG 4B1.2(a)(1). Accordingly, the district court did not err in its sentencing determination. View "United States v. Perez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against a police officer, the police chief, and the city after the officer shot and killed Fridoon Nehad. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment claims, reversed with respect to the remaining claims, and remanded. The panel held that triable issues remain regarding the reasonableness of the officer's use of deadly force, specifically (1) the officer's credibility; (2) whether Nehad posed a significant, if any, danger to anyone; (3) whether the severity of Nehad's alleged crime warranted the use of deadly force; (4) whether the officer gave or Nehad resisted any commands; (5) the significance of the officer's failure to identify himself as a police officer or warn Nehad of the impending use of force; and (6) the availability of less intrusive means of subduing Nehad. The panel held that these factual questions precluded a grant of summary judgment based on qualified immunity, because it was well established at the time that the use of deadly force under the circumstances was objectively unreasonable. The panel also held that plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence of police department customs, practices, and supervisory conduct to support a finding of entity and supervisory liability, and the district court never afforded plaintiffs an opportunity to be heard before granting summary judgment on the negligence and wrongful death claims sua sponte. View "Nehad v. Browder" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that it generally lacked jurisdiction to review a decision by the BIA not to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen removal proceedings. In Bonilla v. Lynch, the panel held that it has jurisdiction to review denial of a motion to reopen sua sponte only for the limited purpose of reviewing the reasoning behind the decisions for legal or constitutional error. The panel denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying sua sponte reopening based on the vacatur of the criminal conviction underlying his removal order. The panel held that petitioner failed to establish legal or constitutional error in the BIA's reasoning such that the panel had jurisdiction to review that decision. View "Menendez-Gonzalez v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for misdemeanor offenses stemming from his unlawful BASE jump in Yosemite National Park. The panel held that the permit exception in 36 C.F.R. 2.17(a)(3) -- which prohibits delivering a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means -- is an affirmative defense for which defendant, not the government, bore the burden of proof. Therefore, the panel rejected defendant's contention that the government failed to establish all elements of section 2.17(a)(3), and held that defendant did not meet the burden of proof at trial. The court also held that the magistrate judge's reference to a news article about the trial, though perhaps imprudent, did not mandate recusal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 455(a). View "United States v. Carey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Civil Beat filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to compel disclosure of two documents related to the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's biolab where researchers study a number of highly dangerous biotoxins. The Ninth Circuit held that the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (BPRA) is a qualifying statute under Exemption 3 of the Freedom of Information Act. The panel dismissed as moot that part of the appeal pertaining to the disclosure of the specific regulatory violations and vacated those portions of the district court's order; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the withholding under Exemption 6 of the identity and contact information of CDC employees involved in the UH biolab inspection; and reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the CDC on the BPRA public endangerment exemption, because the CDC did not justify its complete withholding of the information. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, Inc. v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention" on Justia Law