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Arizona armed robbery does not qualify as a violent felony under either the force clause or the enumerated felonies clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In this case, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct defendant's sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. In the panel's recent decision in United States v. Molinar, No. 15-10430, 2017 WL 5760565 (9th Cir. Nov. 29, 2017), the panel applied the categorical approach to determine that Arizona armed robbery did not qualify as a crime of violence under the force clause of USSG 4B1.2(a). The panel held that Molinar's holding applied equally to the question of whether Arizona armed robbery was a violent felony under the ACCA's force clause. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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If the patent holder effectively controls the corporation such that he or she did not transfer all substantial rights to the patents, then the tax treatment allowed by 26 U.S.C. 1235 does not apply. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Tax Court's decision on a petition for redetermination of federal income tax deficiencies in which taxpayers sought capital gains treatment of patent-generated royalties pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1235(a). In this case, taxpayers did not transfer all substantial rights to the patents. The panel agreed with the Tax Court that taxpayers failed to meet their burden of showing that they actually relied in good faith on an adviser's judgment in order to avoid accuracy-related penalties. View "Cooper v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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EZ-FLO manufactures supply lines that connect water pipes to plumbing fixtures. The supply lines consist of flexible tubing on the inside, a protective covering of braided wire on the outside, and plastic nuts on both ends that connect the supply lines to adjacent plumbing. Plaintiffs, insurance companies, alleged that the plastic nuts are defective and allow water to leak out of the supply lines and that they made payments to their insured homeowners for damages caused by the alleged defect. They filed suit as subrogees of those insureds, seeking over $5,000,000 in damages. EZ-FLO filed a notice of removal pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction because the amended complaint “does not include more than 100 named plaintiffs.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed. A CAFA “mass action” is defined as “any civil action . . . in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claims involve common questions of law or fact.” A lawsuit filed by 26 insurance companies in their capacity as subrogees of 145 insured homeowners does not qualify as a mass action. View "Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. EZ-FLO International, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2014, defendant-appellant Justin Werle was indicted in Washington State for the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of an unregistered firearm. Werle pled guilty to both counts. The district court found that Werle had seven prior qualifying convictions under the Armed Career Criminal Act and was therefore subject to a fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence. This finding was based in part on the district court’s determination that the Washington riot statute was categorically a violent felony for the purposes of the ACCA. A different panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Washington riot statute was not categorically a violent felony, and the case was remanded for resentencing in light of the opinion. On remand, the district court imposed a sentence enhancement under U.S.S.G. section 2K2.1(a) due to Werle’s prior convictions for felony harassment via a threat to kill under Washington Revised Code section 9A.46.020(2)(b)(ii), finding that those convictions were crimes of violence. The district court then calculated Werle’s sentencing guideline range to be between 130 and 162 months, and concluded that a total sentence of 140 months was appropriate. Werle appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the sentence. View "United States v. Werle" on Justia Law

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The federal offense of carjacking is a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. 924(c). In this case, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion challenging his conviction for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Therefore, the predicate offense for defendant's conviction, carjacking, qualified as a crime of violence. View "United States v. Gutierrez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), which clarified application of the categorical analysis to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), did not establish a new rule of constitutional law. Rather, Mathis clarifies application of the categorical analysis to the ACCA. In this case, the Ninth Circuit denied petitioner's application for authorization to file a second or successive motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate a sentence. View "Arazola-Galea v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The unconstitutional legislative veto embedded in section 204(c)(1) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. 1714, is severable from the large-tract withdrawal authority delegated to the Secretary in that same subsection. Invalidating the legislative veto provision does not affect the Secretary's withdrawal authority. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision rejecting challenges to the decision of the Secretary to withdraw from new uranium mining claims, up to twenty years, over one million acres of land near Grand Canyon National Park. In this case, the panel held that the environmental impact statement (EIS) did take existing legal regimes into account but reasonably concluded that they were inadequate to meet the purposes of the withdrawal; the Establishment Clause challenge failed under Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612–13 (1971); and the panel rejected challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4332, and the National Forest Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1604(e). View "National Mining Ass'n v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision rejecting challenges to the Forest Service's determination that EFR had a valid existing right to operate a uranium mine on land within a withdrawal area of public lands around Grand Canyon National Park that the Secretary of the Interior withdrew from new mining claims. The panel held that the Mineral Report was a major federal action under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4332, and that the district court correctly held that Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, 706 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir. 2013), not Pit River Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service, 469 F.3d 768 (9th Cir. 2006), governed this case; that action was complete when the plan was approved; resumed operation of Canyon Mine did not require any additional government action; and thus the EIS prepared in 1988 satisfied NEPA. The panel also held that the Mineral Report approved an "undertaking" under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), 54 U.S.C. 306108; the Mineral Report did not permit, license, or approve resumed operations at Canyon Mine; and the original approval was the only "undertaking" requiring consultation under the NHPA. Finally, the environmental groups did not have prudential standing to challenge the Mineral Report. View "Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of putative class action claims against AT&T by customers who alleged that AT&T falsely advertised their mobile service plans as "unlimited" when in fact it intentionally slowed data at certain usage levels. The panel held that there was no state action in this case, rejecting plaintiffs' claim that there was state action whenever a party asserts a direct constitutional challenge to a permissive law under Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. FCC, 518 U.S. 727 (1996). The panel held that Denver Area did not broadly rule that the government was the relevant state actor whenever there was a direct constitutional challenge to a "permissive" statute, and did not support finding state action here. The panel also held that the Federal Arbitration Act merely gives AT&T the private choice to arbitrate, and did not encourage arbitration such that AT&T's conduct was attributable to the state. View "Roberts v. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, challenging on First Amendment grounds, a school uniform policy that required their two minor children to wear shirts or sweatshirts with a logo consisting of the name of the school, a stylized picture of a gopher (the school mascot), and the motto "Tomorrow’s Leaders." Given the failure of the Ninth Circuit's en banc call, the panel held that the uniform policy—both the motto requirement and the exemption—violated the First Amendment. The panel reasoned that there can hardly be interests more compelling than fostering children's educational achievement and providing a safe and supportive educational environment. However, requiring students to display the motto "Tomorrow's Leaders" on their uniforms was not narrowly tailored to serve those interests. The panel held that the Individual Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because the applicable law was not sufficiently clear to put them on notice that the uniform policy would violate the First Amendment. However, because the Institutional Defendants were not individuals, they were not protected by qualified immunity. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frudden v. Pilling" on Justia Law