Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying defendant's motion seeking discovery on a claim of selective enforcement. Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery after he was caught in a law enforcement reverse sting operation to rob a fictitious stash house. The panel held that in these stash house reverse-sting cases, claims of selective enforcement are governed by a less rigorous standard than that applied to claims of selective prosecution under United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456 (1996). The panel held that a defendant need not proffer evidence that similarly-situated individuals of a different race were not investigated or arrested to receive discovery on a selective enforcement claim like the defendant's. Rather, a defendant must have something more than mere speculation to be entitled to discovery, and the district court should use its discretion to allow limited or broad discovery based on the reliability and strength of the defendant's showing. Because the district court applied the wrong legal standard, the panel remanded to the district court to determine in the first instance whether defendant has met his burden. View "United States v. Sellers" on Justia Law

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Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d) is subject to the certificate of appealability requirement in 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(1). The Ninth Circuit denied petitioner's request for a certificate of appealability (COA) to appeal the district court's denial of his motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(3). Petitioner alleged that the district attorney who secured his conviction and death sentence made false sworn statements during the federal habeas proceedings, and that these statements were part of a larger scheme involving assignment of inmate informants to cells next to defendants incarcerated in Orange County, California, in hopes of obtaining incriminating admissions. The panel held that, although a COA was required in this case, petitioner was not entitled to one because regardless of how the prosecution obtained the informants' testimony or later explained its tactics to the district court, the evidence itself was not material to petitioner's conviction and sentence. View "Payton v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that King County unconstitutionally refused to display plaintiffs' submitted ads concerning global terrorism on the exterior of its public buses. The Ninth Circuit held that the County permissible rejected the factually inaccurate ad because the First Amendment did not require the County to display patently false content in a nonpublic forum. The panel held, however, that the County's disparagement standard discriminated, on its face, on the basis of viewpoint. Finally, the disruption standard was facially valid but the County unreasonable applied the standard to plaintiffs' ad. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment to the County. View "American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action alleging that the FBI violated his substantive and procedural due process rights by placing and maintaining him on the No Fly List. While plaintiff's action was pending, defendants removed plaintiff from the list and the district court held that his due process claims were moot. The panel held, however, that the voluntary cessation doctrine applied here and precluded a finding of mootness. In this case, plaintiff's removal from the list was more likely an exercise of discretion than a decision arising from a broad change in agency policy or procedure. Furthermore, the government has not assured plaintiff that he would not be banned from flying for the same reasons that prompted the government to add him to the list in the first place, nor has it verified the implementation of procedural safeguards conditioning its ability to revise plaintiff's status on the receipt of new information. Finally, plaintiff's removal from the list did not completely and irrevocably eradicate the effects of the alleged violations. View "Fikre v. FBI" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Washington Supreme Court: Under what circumstances, if any, does obesity qualify as an "impairment" under the Washington Law against Discrimination, Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.040? View "Taylor v. Burlington Northern Railroad Holdings Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), the scope of the ADA's "regarded-as" definition of disability was expanded. The plaintiff must show, under the ADAAA, that he has been subjected to a prohibited action because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. In this case, plaintiff filed suit against HIE, alleging disability discrimination under the ADA and state law claiming that HIE terminated him because of his shoulder injury. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his employer regarded him as having a disability. The panel held that the district court erred in concluding, as a matter of law, that plaintiff was not regarded-as disabled. Furthermore, the district court erred in concluding that plaintiff did not meet the "physical" definition of disability under the ADA. View "Nunies v. HIE Holdings" on Justia Law

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Excessive force under the Eighth Amendment does not require proof that an officer enjoyed or otherwise derived pleasure from his or her use of force. In this case, plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging claims against the Snake River Correctional Institute's officials and corrections officers for, among other things, excessive force and deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant and remanded for a new trial. The panel held that the district court's instructions that plaintiff had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his alleged abuser had or derived pleasure from extreme cruelty while beating plaintiff was plainly erroneous. Furthermore, these erroneous instructions prejudiced plaintiff. The panel also vacated the district court's sua sponte grant of summary judgment to defendants on plaintiff's deprivation-of-property claim after determining that plaintiff, who was proceeding pro se at the time, failed to receive sufficient notice that the claim was at issue on summary judgment. View "Hoard v. Hartman" on Justia Law

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The DNC and others filed suit against the state of Arizona, challenging two state election practices: (1) Arizona's longstanding requirement that in-person voters cast their ballots in their assigned precinct, which Arizona enforces by not counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct (OOP policy), and (2) H.B. 2023, a recent legislative enactment which precludes most third parties from collecting early ballots from voters. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 and the OOP policy did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments because they imposed only a minimal burden on voters and were adequately designed to serve Arizona's important regulatory interests; the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 and the OOP policy did not violate section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; DNC failed to show that minority voters were deprived of an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice; and the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 did not violate the Fifteenth Amendment because plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of showing that H.B. 2023 was enacted with discriminatory intent. View "The Democratic National Committee v. Reagan" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a habeas corpus petition challenging petitioner's California conviction for second degree murder. The panel held that the state court unreasonably applied Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and related cases in holding that a detective ceased interrogation and that petitioner's waiver of the right of counsel was valid. In this case, the only reasonable interpretation of what occurred between petitioner and the interrogating detective was that the detective continued interrogating petitioner after petitioner had clearly – and repeatedly – invoked his right to counsel, and that the detective badgered petitioner into waiving that right. View "Martinez v. Cate" on Justia Law

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The summary arrest, handcuffing, and police transport to the station of middle school girls was a disproportionate response to the school's need, which was dissipation of what the school officials characterized as an "ongoing feud" and "continuous argument" between the students. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to defendants based on qualified immunity and grant of summary judgment for students in an action alleging that a sheriff's deputy arrested the students on campus without probable cause in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights and state law. In this case, the deputy was invited to speak to a group of girls in school about bullying and fighting. When the girls were unresponsive and disrespectful, the deputy arrested the girls. The panel applied the two-part reasonableness test set forth in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 333 (1985), holding that the arrests were unreasonable because they were not justified at their inception nor reasonably related in scope to the circumstances; officers were not entitled to qualified immunity because no reasonable officer could have reasonably believed that the law authorized the arrest of a group of middle schoolers in order to teach them a lesson or to prove a point; and the evidence was insufficient to create probable cause to arrest the students for violating California Penal Code 415(1) or Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 601(a), and thus plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their state false arrest claim. View "Scott v. County of San Bernardino" on Justia Law