Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Deputy Doug Lieurance's issuance of a misdemeanor citation to plaintiff for obstructing a buffalo herding operation violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. The Ninth Circuit held that defendants were not entitled to summary judgment on the unlawful seizure claim because the panel could not conclude as a matter of law that a reasonably prudent officer in the deputy's situation would have had probable cause to believe plaintiff committed obstruction and the district court improperly weighed evidence favorable to plaintiff against other evidence presented, failing to draw all inferences in plaintiff's favor; the district court did not first provide plaintiff notice and an opportunity to respond before dismissing the failure-to-train claim for failure to satisfy Rule 12(b)(6); the district court abused its discretion by excluding the entirety of plaintiff's police practices expert's testimony; the district court committed reversible procedural error in granting judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's First Amendment and related state claims without first providing him notice of the grounds for the decision; the district court improperly resolved numerous factual disputes reserved for the jury; and the panel lacked jurisdiction to review the district court's denial without prejudice of defendants' attorney fees motion. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Reed v. Lieurance" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit seeking a declaration that it has the right to investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator encountered on the reservation to the proper authorities. The Ninth Circuit held that the first amended complaint raised a federal question that provided federal courts with subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331; the Tribe has presented a prudentially ripe case or controversy and the case is constitutionally ripe as well; and the district court's conclusion that the Tribe's response letter mooted all controversies between the parties was erroneous. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Bishop Paiute Tribe v. Inyo County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an Arizona state prisoner, filed suit pro se in state court that was subsequently removed by defendant to federal court. The district court dismissed the suit as frivolous and denied pending motions without separately considering plaintiff's motion seeking appointment of a representative or guardian ad litem (GAL) to protect his interests. The Ninth Circuit agreed that the suit was frivolous but ordered a limited remand to evaluate plaintiff's competence and to consider the appointment of a GAL. The panel agreed with the district court's conclusion on remand that it was not required to evaluate plaintiff's competence because he had no interest in this case that could have been protected by appointment of a GAL or issuance of another order under Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(c)(2). Because plaintiff had incurred at least three strikes from prior cases, he was already subject to the limitations imposed under 28 U.S.C. 1915(g) and could not be adversely impacted by whatever happened in this case. View "Harris v. Mangum" on Justia Law

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The nondisclosure requirement in 18 U.S.C. 2709 is a content-based restriction on speech that is subject to strict scrutiny, and the nondisclosure requirement withstands such scrutiny. In this case, petitioners challenged the law authorizing the FBI to prevent a recipient of a national security letter (NSL) from disclosing the fact that it has received such a request. Applying strict scrutiny, the Ninth Circuit held that national security is a compelling government interest and the nondisclosure requirement of section 2709(c) is narrowly tailored to serve that compelling interest. Assuming the nondisclosure requirement is the type of prior restraint for which the Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965), procedural safeguards are required, the NSL law provides those safeguards. Therefore, the nondisclosure requirement in the NSL law does not run afoul of the First Amendment. View "Under Seal v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of habeas relief and held that petitioner's claim was barred by her failure to exhaust available state court remedies, and was untimely under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). Even assuming that futility persists as a potential exception to AEDPA's exhaustion requirement, it did not excuse petitioner's failure to exhaust her state court remedies in this instance. Furthermore, the fact that petitioner's claim implicates delay in California's post-conviction process did not excuse her failure to exhaust her present claim. The panel held that neither relation back nor the emergence of new facts rendered petitioner's claim timely. View "Alfaro v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who is paralyzed from the waist down, filed suit alleging that defendant's refusal to install temporary vehicle hand controls violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff has stated a claim under section 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii) for failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures. However, plaintiff failed to make a claim that defendant did not remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, because section 2182(b)(2)(A)(iv) did not apply to the circumstances of this case. Finally, additional implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. 36.307(a) and 36.306, did not preclude plaintiff's statutory claim. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's dismissal and remanded. View "Karczewski v. DCH Mission Valley LLC" on Justia Law

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A petitioner is entitled to use the full one-year statute-of-limitations period for the filing of his state and federal habeas petitions and he need not anticipate the occurrence of circumstances that would otherwise deprive him of the full 365 days that Congress afforded him for the preparation and filing of his petitions. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order dismissing the petition for habeas relief in this case and remanded for further proceedings. The panel held that it was improper for the district court to fault the petitioner for filing his state petition for postconviction relief late in the statute-of-limitations period in reliance on his having a full year to file both his state and federal petitions, as promised by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. 2244. It was obvious in this instance that petitioner was diligent after the extraordinary circumstance had ended. Therefore, petitioner was entitled to equitable tolling from the time he requested his prison account certificate until he received that certification. View "Grant v. Swarthout" on Justia Law

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By enacting the Homeland Security Act (HSA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), Congress did not terminate Paragraph 24A of the Flores Settlement with respect to bond hearings for unaccompanied minors. This appeal stemmed from a settlement agreement between the plaintiff class and the federal government that established a nationwide policy for the detention, release, and treatment of minors in the custody of the INS. Paragraph 24A of the Flores Agreement provides that a "minor in deportation proceedings shall be afforded a bond redetermination hearing before an immigration judge." The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of plaintiffs' motion to enforce the Flores Agreement, holding that nothing in the text, structure, or purpose of the HSA or TVPRA renders continued compliance with Paragraph 24A, as it applies to unaccompanied minors, "impermissible." View "Flores v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order staying Seneca's action against Strange Land in a parallel state court proceeding. The panel held that the district court correctly chose to analyze the abstention motion under the Colorado River framework where Seneca sought remedies beyond declaratory judgment. Applying the factors in assessing the appropriateness of a Colorado River stay, the panel held that the district court abused its narrow discretion, essentially transforming the strong presumption against abstention into a presumption in favor of abstention where state law issues predominate. The panel explained that nothing about this case was "exceptional" so as to warrant disregarding the "virtually unflagging obligation" of a federal court to exercise its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the panel remanded. View "Seneca Insurance Co. v. Strange Land, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Petitioner, convicted of robbery and murder and sentenced to death, appealed the district court's denial of habeas relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief with respect to petitioner's conviction, but reversed with respect to the death sentence. The panel held that, even if the State had not waived its defense, admission of psychiatric testimony during the penalty phase violated petitioner's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights under Estelle v. Smith, 451 U.S. 454 (1981), and that the violation had a substantial and injurious effect on the jury's decision to impose the death sentence. In this case, the psychiatrist failed to seek or obtain permission from defense counsel to visit or evaluate the client. The court rejected petitioner's remaining claims. View "Petrocelli v. Baker" on Justia Law