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

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion and remanded with instructions to grant the motion. The panel held that defendant's first degree armed robbery in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes 164.415 is not a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The panel held that United States v. Strickland, 860 F.3d 1224 (9th Cir. 2017), which held that Oregon third degree robbery is not a violent felony under the force clause of the ACCA because it does not require physically violent force, is not clearly irreconcilable with Stokeling v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 544 (2019), which addressed a Florida robbery statute that requires resistance by the victim that is overcome by the physical force of the offender. Finally, even assuming that section 164.415(1) is divisible, the district court erred in finding that defendant had been convicted of armed robbery under subsection (b). View "United States v. Shelby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Pit River Tribe and environmental organizations in an action under the Geothermal Steam Act, against federal agencies responsible for administering twenty-six unproven geothermal leases located in California's Medicine Lake Highlands. Pit River alleged that the BLM's decision to continue the terms of the unproven leases for up to forty years violated the Act. Determining that it had jurisdiction to hear this appeal, the panel held that the statutory meaning of 30 U.S.C. 1005(a) is clear and unambiguous: it only permits production-based continuations on a lease-by-lease basis, not on a unit-wide basis. In this case, BLM failed to meet its burden of providing a compelling reason for the panel to depart from the plain meaning of section 1005(a). Therefore, the panel rejected BLM's argument that section 1005(a) authorizes forty-year continuations on a unit-wide basis once a single lease in a unit is deemed productive. View "Pit River Tribe v. Bureau of Land Management" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit amended the opinion and concurrence, and affirmed the district court's order denying an IRS agent's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff alleged that the agent violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to bodily privacy during the lawful execution of a search warrant at plaintiff's home in 2006 when the agent escorted plaintiff to the bathroom and monitored her while she relieved herself. As a preliminary matter, the panel applied the test in Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S. Ct. 1843 (2017), and held that plaintiff could proceed with her Bivens action against the agent. The panel held that the agent's interests in preventing destruction of evidence and promoting officer safety did not justify the scope or manner of the intrusion into plaintiff's most basic subject of privacy. Furthermore, a reasonable officer in the agent's position would have known that such a significant intrusion into bodily privacy, in the absence of legitimate government justification, is unlawful. View "Ioane v. Hodges" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Association's complaint, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act regarding the Association's provision of diabetes-related care in the U.S. Army's Child, Youth, and School Services (CYSS) programs. When this action began in 2016, the Army had in place United States Army Regulation 608-10 and a 2008 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Memorandum (collectively, "Old Policy"), which together prohibited CYSS staff from providing essential medical care for diabetic children. In 2017, defendants revoked the Old Policy and replaced it with a New Policy that provides for possible diabetes-related accommodations. The panel held that the Association's challenge to the Old Policy was moot. In this case, defendants have satisfied their burden of clearly showing that they cannot reasonably be expected to reinstitute the Old Policy's blanket ban. Therefore, because the Association seeks only prospective relief, its challenge to the policy, and the injuries incurred thereunder, were moot. The panel also held that the Association lacked standing to challenge the New Policy, because the Association lacked organizational standing by failing to show an injury in fact, and representational standing where none of its members had standing to sue in their own right. View "American Diabetes Assoc. v. United States Department of the Army" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's motion to reopen his 1996 in absentia deportation order. Petitioner argued that he did not receive proper notice of the hearing because he was 16 years old in 1996 and no adult was served with the Order to Show Cause and Notice of Hearing (OSC). The panel held that Flores-Chavez v. Ashcroft, 362 F.3d 1150 (9th Cir. 2004), which required the INS to serve notice to both the juvenile and to the person the juvenile was authorized to be released to, did not extend to situations in which a minor over the age of 14 was never detained or released to an adult by the INS and in which he initiated proceedings by filing an affirmative request for relief. The panel applied the test in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), and held that notice given to petitioner in this case comported with due process. The panel applied the balancing factors and held that the burden on the government of providing notice to a responsible adult living with a juvenile over the age of 14 outweighs the interest of never-detained minors over the age of 14, at least those who have filed an affirmative request for relief. View "Cruz Pleitez v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner and his attorney filed an ex parte application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, which permits certain domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings. The district court quashed the subpoenas after concluding that not all the discovery sought was subject to the state secrets privilege. Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that certain information requested was not privileged because it was not a state secret that would pose an exceptionally grave risk to national security and that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege was valid over much of the information requested, the panel held that the district court erred in quashing the subpoenas in toto rather than attempting to disentangle nonprivileged from privileged information. In this case, the underlying proceeding was a limited discovery request that could be managed by the district court. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Husayn v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, holding that the district court did not err by denying his motion to suppress evidence found as a result of the search of his cell phone, seized from his rental car after a high-speed chase. In this case, the phone contained photos tying him to the firearm that was recovered from the car. As a preliminary matter, the panel held, in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Byrd v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1518, 1530 (2018), that it did not need to address the issue of whether defendant lacked standing to challenge the search before addressing defendant's Fourth Amendment claims, because such an inquiry was not jurisdictional. The panel held that the searches of both the car and the phone were lawful, because the phone was seized as part of a valid inventory search; probable cause supported the two warrants issued to search the phone; and there was a sufficient factual basis for the issuing magistrate judges to conclude, independently of the affiants' beliefs, that evidence might be found on defendant's cell phone. View "United States v. Garay" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit against officials of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), challenging aspects of the Arizona execution process. Plaintiffs contend that Arizona's practices violate their First Amendment right of access to governmental proceedings and violate inmates' rights of access to the courts. The Ninth Circuit held that the First Amendment right of access to governmental proceedings encompasses a right to hear the sounds of executions in their entirety. Furthermore, on the facts alleged, Arizona's restrictions on press and public access to the sounds of executions impermissibly burden that right. However, the panel held that neither the public nor the press has a First Amendment right of access to information regarding the manufacturers, sellers, lot numbers, National Drug Codes, and expiration dates of lethal-injection drugs, as well as documentation regarding the qualifications of certain execution team members. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs' claim that Arizona's restrictions violate the inmates' First Amendment right of access to the courts failed as a matter of law. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's second amended complaint. View "First Amendment Coalition of Arizona v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a securities fraud action because it was barred by the act of state doctrine. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants knowingly failed to disclose legal deficiencies under Mexican tax law in the 2012 APA Ruling and sold shares knowing these legal deficiencies existed. The panel held that plaintiffs' claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 would require a United States court to pass judgment on the validity of a 2012 ruling by Mexico's tax authority. In this case, the mandatory elements of applying the act of state doctrine were satisfied and the policies underlying the doctrine weighed in favor of applying it to bar plaintiffs' claims. Agreeing with its sister circuits, the panel held that the district court was not required to consider the Sabbatino factors. The panel declined to reconsider whether a tax ruling by the Mexican government, that remains valid in Mexico, complied with Mexico's tax laws. View "Royal Wulff Ventures LLC v. Primero Mining Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's life sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to producing child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2251(a). Defendant had several prior Alaska convictions relating to the sexual assault and sexual abuse of minors, none involving the production of child pornography. After determining that the appeal waiver did not bar defendant's appeal, the panel held that his prior Alaska convictions were not offenses "relating to the sexual exploitation of children" under section 2251(e), and thus the district court improperly applied the multiple conviction enhancement contained in section 2251(e). The court explained that the term "relating to" in section 2251(e) encompasses state offenses that are a categorical match to the federal offense of production of child pornography and state offenses involving the production of such pornography. However, the term does not include offenses that entirely lack the visual depictions element that separates "sexual exploitation of children" from other forms of child abuse in the federal criminal offense panoply. The panel remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Schopp" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law