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

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The United States sought an interlocutory appeal of the district court's order suppressing evidence in a criminal prosecution. Defendant was indicted for being an alien in possession of a firearm, and the evidence suppressed resulted from a confrontation between police officers and defendant while he was with his seven-year-old son at a shopping mall.As a preliminary matter, the Ninth Circuit held that United States v. Healy, 376 U.S. 75 (1964), foreclosed defendant's contention that the appeal is untimely. The panel affirmed the district court's suppression of the statements because they were the product of a custodial interrogation conducted without the required Miranda warnings and thus inadmissible. However, the panel explained that a Miranda violation does not alone warrant suppression of the physical fruits of defendant's inculpatory statements. Furthermore, both parties agree that the appropriate inquiry is whether, looking at the totality of the circumstances, defendant's consent to the search of the trunk was voluntary. Therefore, the panel remanded for the district court to resolve the voluntariness issue in the first instance. View "United States v. Mora-Alcaraz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2241 habeas corpus petition where petitioner challenged an Oregon Circuit Court order under Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003), authorizing involuntary medication to restore petitioner's competency to stand trial for murder. The district court applied Younger abstention and concluded that intervention by a federal court would be inappropriate in light of the important state interests at stake in the pending criminal prosecution.The panel held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and the authority to rule on the petition. In this case, the state mischaracterized the cognizability issue as a subject matter jurisdiction issue. Furthermore, although the basic Younger criteria are satisfied in this case, the irreparable harm exception to Younger applies and the district court erred in abstaining. The panel remanded for the district court to consider the issue of the cognizability of petitioner's claim in habeas. View "Bean v. Matteucci" on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court in light of GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, 140 S. Ct. 1637 (2020), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendant's motions to compel arbitration and to grant a stay pending arbitration.Rather than apply the law of India, the panel applied federal common law to the issue of whether defendant, a non-signatory to the partnership deed containing an arbitration provision, could compel plaintiffs to arbitrate. The panel applied Letizia v. Prudential Bache Securities, Inc., 802 F.2d 1185 (9th Cir. 1986), which remains good law, and concluded that federal law applied because the case involved federal claims and turned on the court's federal question jurisdiction. The panel held that equitable estoppel precludes a party from claiming the benefits of a contract while simultaneously attempting to avoid the burdens that contract imposes. In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting SS Mumbai's argument that SS Bangalore should be equitably estopped from avoiding arbitration. View "Setty v. Shrinivas Sugandhalaya LLP" on Justia Law

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Gear, a native of Australia, moved to Hawaii to work. Gear’s employer applied for, and Gear received, an “H-1B” nonimmigrant visa. Gear later returned from visiting Australia with a rifle. Gear was fired and needed a new visa. Gear created a new company and obtained a new H-1B visa. A DHS agent learned Gear was present on an H-1B visa and bragged about owning firearms, and obtained a search warrant. Before the search, Gear stated, “he couldn’t possess a firearm … because he was not a U.S. citizen.” Gear stated his ex-wife had shipped a rifle and gun safe to Hawaii but he claimed they had been discarded because “he couldn’t have it.” Gear eventually admitted that the gun and safe were in the garage.He was charged under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) for possessing a firearm while being an alien who had been admitted under a nonimmigrant visa. The jury was instructed the government had to prove Gear “knowingly possessed” the rifle, that had been transported in foreign commerce, and that Gear had been admitted under a nonimmigrant visa. Before Gear was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided Rehaif, holding that under section 922(g), the government must prove the defendant “knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm.”The Ninth Circuit affirmed Gear’s conviction. While the government must prove the defendant knew he had a nonimmigrant visa, the erroneous jury instructions did not affect Gear’s substantial rights because the record overwhelmingly indicates that he knew it was illegal for him to possess a firearm. View "United States v. Gear" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied petitions for review of the FMCSA's determination that federal law preempted California’s meal and rest break rules (MRB rules), as applied to drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles who are subject to the FMCSA's own rest break regulations.The panel held that the agency's decision reflects a permissible interpretation of the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 and is not arbitrary or capricious. Applying Chevron deference to the agency's interpretation of the statute and the phrase "on commercial motor vehicle safety," the panel held that even assuming petitioners identified a potential ambiguity in the statute, the agency's reading was a permissible one. In this case, the FMCSA reasonably determined that a State law "on commercial motor vehicle safety" is one that "imposes requirements in an area of regulation that is already addressed by a regulation promulgated under [section] 31136." Furthermore, the FMCSA's 2018 preemption decision also reasonably relied on Congress's stated interest in uniformity of regulation.The panel concluded that the FMCSA permissibly determined that California's MRB rules were State regulations "on commercial motor vehicle safety," so that they were within the agency's preemption authority. The panel also concluded that the FMCSA faithfully interpreted California law in finding that California's rules were "additional to or more stringent than" federal regulations. Finally, the panel concluded that the agency did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in finding that enforcement of the MRB rules "would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce." View "International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration" on Justia Law

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In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000), which held that Miranda is a rule of constitutional law that could not be overruled by congressional action, the Ninth Circuit concluded that where the unMirandized statement has been used against the defendant in the prosecution's case in chief in a prior criminal proceeding, the defendant has been deprived of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and he may assert a claim against the state official who deprived him of that right under 42 U.S.C. 1983.In this case, plaintiff alleged that his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated when his un-Mirandized statement was used against him at his criminal trial. The panel concluded that plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated a Fifth Amendment violation caused by the officer under section 1983, such that the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury on this claim. The panel explained that there is no question that plaintiff's statement was introduced into evidence in the failed state criminal prosecution of him. Furthermore, there is no question that the officer "caused" the introduction of the statements at plaintiff's criminal trial even though the officer himself was not the prosecutor. The panel also concluded that the error was not harmless. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's judgment on the jury's verdict; reversed the district court's judgment as to plaintiff's requested jury instruction; and remanded for a new trial. View "Tekoh v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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When an employee working a "one week on, one week off" schedule takes continuous leave, an employer may count both the on and off weeks against the employee's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave entitlement. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Secretary in an action alleging that Alaska miscalculated the amount of FMLA leave that certain employees of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) were entitled to take.The panel held that the term "workweek" in 29 U.S.C. 2612(a)(1) has the same meaning it carries under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The panel explained that it is a fixed, pre-established period of seven consecutive days in which the employer is operating. Under that reading of the term, when a rotational employee takes continuous leave, both his on and off weeks count as "workweeks of leave" under section 2612(a)(1). Thus, the panel concluded that Alaska may insist that rotational employees who take 12 workweeks of continuous leave return to work 12 weeks later. The panel also held that it need not defer to the Secretary's contrary interpretation of the statute under Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944). View "Scalia v. Alaska" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed, based on lack of jurisdiction, an interlocutory appeal of the district court's order denying qualified immunity to defendant in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that defendant used excessive force when he shot Wayne Anderson. The panel explained that it lacked jurisdiction to review defendant's arguments because his interlocutory appeal challenges only the district court's conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute as to the factual question that will determine whether defendant's use of force was reasonable. In this case, rather than "advanc[ing] an argument as to why the law is not clearly established that takes the facts in the light most favorable to [the Estate]," which the panel would have jurisdiction to consider, defendant contests "whether there is enough evidence in the record for a jury to conclude that certain facts [favorable to the Estate] are true," which the panel did not have jurisdiction to resolve. View "Estate of Wayne Steven Anderson v. Marsh" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress firearms and dismissal of the remainder of his appeal as waived. Defendant had entered a conditional guilty plea to being a felon in possession.The panel concluded that the search warrant did not violate the Fourth Amendment where the warrant sufficiently justified the search for and seizure of "any firearm" and the good faith exception also justifies denying the suppression motion. The panel also concluded that defendant's knowing and voluntary appellate waiver precludes defendant from appealing his career offender sentence enhancement. Finally, the panel rejected defendant's contention that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea and enter a new agreement preserving his right to appeal his sentence because the district court violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1) by participating in his plea negotiations. As a threshold matter, the panel disagreed with the government's contention that this claim is subsumed by defendant's appellate waiver and that the panel has no jurisdiction to consider it. The panel concluded that neither of the two instances defendant alleged demonstrated inappropriate judicial pressure on plea negotiations. View "United States v. King" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241, and remanded for application of the standard from Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977), the default rule for First Amendment retaliation claims.The panel held that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, 139 S. Ct. 1715 (2019), holding that the presence of probable cause generally defeats a retaliatory criminal arrest claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, does not apply to a noncitizen's claim that ICE unconstitutionally retaliated against him for his speech when revoking his bond and rearresting him. In this case, petitioner had been detained by ICE and released on bond in 2018. After petitioner spoke publicly at a rally in 2019 and read his poem, entitled "Dear America," in which he criticized ICE practices, ICE revoked his bond and re-arrested him. The panel explained that Nieves is not applicable because problems of causation that may counsel for a no probable cause standard are less acute in the habeas context. Furthermore, Nieves arose out of the criminal arrest context where "evidence of the presence or absence of probable cause for the arrest will be available in virtually every retaliatory arrest case." The panel explained that this reasoning does not translate to the immigration bond revocation context. View "Bello-Reyes v. Gaynor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law