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

by
An applicant cannot be regarded as personally responsible for failing to maintain lawful status when that failure occurs due to a mistake on her lawyer's part. An applicant who relies on the assistance of counsel to maintain lawful status will usually have no basis to question the soundness of the advice she receives from her lawyer. The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for adjustment of status on the ground that she is ineligible for relief under 8 U.S.C. 1255(c)(2). The panel held that, although substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that petitioner's attorney never filed a corrected I-129, petitioner reasonably relied on her attorney's assurances that he had filed the corrected I-129 petition necessary to maintain her lawful immigration status, and she remains eligible for adjustment of status because her failure to maintain lawful status continuously since entering the United States occurred through no fault of her own. The panel remanded for consideration of the IJ's alternative ground for denial of relief. View "Peters v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
VIP filed suit seeking a declaration that its "Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker" toy did not infringe JDPI's trademark rights or, in the alternative, that Jack Daniel's trade dress and bottle design were not entitled to trademark protection. JDPI counterclaimed and alleged claims of trademark infringement and dilution. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to JDPI on the issues of aesthetic functionality and distinctiveness. The court held that the district court correctly found that Jack Daniel's trade dress and bottle design are distinctive and aesthetically nonfunctional, and thus entitled to trademark protection; VIP also failed to rebut the presumption of nonfunctionality and distinctiveness of the Jack Daniel's bottle design; the district court correctly rejected VIP's nominative fair use defense; and the district court correctly rejected VIP's request for cancellation of the registered mark and rejected VIP's nominative fair use defense. However, the panel held that the dog toy is an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection. In this case, the district court erred in finding trademark infringement without first requiring JDPI to satisfy at least one of the two Rogers prongs. Therefore, the panel reversed the district court's judgment as to the dilution claim, vacated the judgment on the trademark infringement claim, and remanded for further proceedings. View "VIP Products LLC v. Jack Daniel's Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

by
After plaintiffs were awarded more than $45 million in a products liability suit brought against EcoSmart, EcoSmart declared bankruptcy and plaintiffs brought a direct action against EcoSmart's insurer, LMIC, for payment on the judgment. LMIC argued that its policy with EcoSmart had a forum-selection clause designating Australian courts as the exclusive forum. The district court granted LMIC's motion to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens. The Ninth Circuit held that, because plaintiffs stand in the shoes of EcoSmart, their third-party creditors' rights are derivative of the rights and limitations held by the bankrupt insured, and thus the forum-selection clause applies. The panel also held that plaintiffs have not shown that the clause violates California public policy or that Australia is an inadequate forum for suit. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Lewis v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit denied an application under 28 U.S.C. 2244(b) for leave to file a second or successive habeas corpus petition challenging the applicant's 2005 Washington state sentencing judgment. The panel held that the habeas petition applicant seeks to file is a second or successive petition under Magwood v. Patterson, 561 U.S. 320 (2010), because removal of the victim-restitution condition from applicant's sentencing judgment did not create a new, intervening judgment under Washington law. Therefore, in order to proceed with his habeas petition, applicant must satisfy the requirements for filing a second or successive petition under section 2244(b)(2), which he cannot do. In this case, none of the arguments raise in the petition related to a new constitutional rule. Likewise, each of applicant's arguments raises a procedural error that, even if proven true, has no bearing on his guilt. View "Colbert v. Haynes" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction ordering the United States to provide bond hearings to a class of noncitizens who were detained after entering the United States and were found by an asylum officer to have a credible fear of persecution. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in applying the Winter factors and concluding that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits of their due process claim regarding the availability of bond hearings; in concluding that plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm absent the grant of a preliminary injunction; and in determining that the balance of the equities and public interest favors plaintiffs with respect to Part B of the preliminary injunction. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's order in part. The panel held that the record was insufficient to support Part A of the preliminary injunction order for the required bond hearings, and remanded for further findings and reconsideration with respect to the particular process due to plaintiffs. The panel also held that 8 U.S.C. 1252(f)(1) did not bar the district court from granting preliminary injunctive relief for this class of noncitizens, each of whom is an individual noncitizen against whom removal proceedings have been initiated. Finally, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction with respect to the nationwide class. View "Padilla v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a petition for federal habeas relief brought by petitioner, challenging his California state murder conviction and death sentence. Petitioner alleges that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel at the penalty phase because his lawyers failed to present additional evidence of his family history and social background. The panel held that reasonable jurists could conclude that admission of this evidence would not have led to a reasonable probability of a different sentence and thus petitioner was not prejudiced by any deficiency in counsel's performance. The panel granted petitioner's motion to expand the certificate of appealability as to four additional claims. The panel held that the state court reasonably concluded that a mens rea defense theory would not have been reasonably probable to persuade the jury to acquit. Even assuming that counsel rendered deficient performance in failing to conduct further investigation, it was eminently reasonable for the court to conclude that petitioner failed to show that the omission of this argument adversely affected the outcome. Finally, the panel held that petitioner was not prejudiced by his counsel's failure to obtain a transport order and funding authorization for EEG tests and a PET scan during the guilt or penalty phase. View "Berryman v. Wong" on Justia Law

by
Appellant sought habeas corpus relief, arguing that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel because the defense lawyer who represented him in his child molestation trial in Arizona state court was ineffective. After the jury reported that it was deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial, the jury requested permission to resume deliberations. Appellant's counsel did not object and the jury convicted appellant on all grounds. The Ninth Circuit held that appellant's counsel was not ineffective because, on the facts of this case, it was a reasonable prediction that appellant had a better chance of a more favorable verdict from the existing jury on the existing trial record than he would from a retrial. View "May v. Ryan" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Arizona Supreme Court: Has Arizona consented to damages liability for a State agency's violation of the minimum wage or overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act? View "Redgrave v. Ducey" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus as time-barred. The panel held that the district court erred in its refusal to consider whether petitioner's claimed impairment was the cause of the untimeliness of the federal filing, despite his representation by state habeas counsel, and that the district court applied the wrong legal standard in evaluating whether state habeas counsel's misconduct supported equitable tolling. In this case, because the district court thought abandonment was required, it did not consider whether petitioner's state habeas counsel's misconduct qualified as an "extraordinary circumstance" under all the facts of this case. Accordingly, the panel remanded for the appropriate analysis. View "Milam v. Harrington" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging constitutional violations arising from the County's enforcement of its billboard ordinance through an abatement proceeding. The panel agreed with the district court that all the elements required for Younger abstention were present where the abatement proceeding was ongoing, constitutes a quasi-criminal enforcement action, implicates an important state interest in its land-use ordinances and in providing a uniform procedure for resolving zoning disputes, and allows litigants to raise a federal challenge. Furthermore, plaintiffs' federal action could substantially delay the abatement proceeding, thus having the practical effect of enjoining it. The panel also affirmed the district court's order awarding attorney's fees and costs. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that plaintiffs' action was frivolous at the outset. The panel also held that the County was the prevailing party where the district court's Younger-based dismissal effected a material change in the parties' relationship because it eliminated the possibility that plaintiffs' federal lawsuit would halt or impede the County's abatement proceeding. View "Citizens for Free Speech, LLC v. County of Alameda" on Justia Law