Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Petitioner, convicted of first degree murder, sought habeas relief, raising an instructional error claim regarding California Jury Instruction Criminal 2.15, which allowed the jury to infer guilt of murder from evidence that defendants were in possession of recently stolen property plus slight corroborating evidence. Petitioner quit pursuing his petition because he believed that he "co-submitted" another habeas petition with his codefendant. The codefendant was granted habeas relief. The district court subsequently granted petitioner's motion to reopen his original habeas proceedings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) and granted petitioner habeas relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed and held that the 60(b) motion was not inconsistent with the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's (AEDPA) bar on second or successive petitions, AEDPA's statute of limitations, or AEDPA's exhaustion requirement; the district court did not err in reviewing petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion and it did not abuse its discretion in reopening the case under Rule 60(b)(6); and habeas relief was warranted. View "Hall v. Haws" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of second degree murder. Petitioner claimed that there was improper outside influence on the jury. The en banc court held that the state appellate court's decision was contrary to clearly established Supreme Court law in Mattox v. United States, 146 U.S. 140, 149, and Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227, 229. In denying relief because petitioner's evidence did not prove prejudice, the state court acted contrary to Mattox and Remmer; it was error to rely on the very same statement from Juror 10's declaration both to raise the presumption of prejudice and to rebut it; and the state court denied petitioner a hearing on prejudice under the wrong legal standard. Accordingly, the en banc court remanded with instructions to hold a hearing to determine the circumstances of Juror 10's misconduct, the impact on the jury, and whether it was prejudicial. View "Godoy v. Spearman" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied petitions for review of the FMCSA's statutory authority to issue permits for U.S. long-haul operations to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies. The panel held that the Teamsters and the Drivers Association have constitutional standing; the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 encompasses the Teamsters' and the Drivers Association's claims; and the Teamsters and the Drivers Association also have third-party organizational standing. The panel also held that the grant of a long-haul operating permit to a Mexico-domiciled carrier and the denial of the Teamsters' challenge to that grant were final agency actions; the panel has Hobbs Act jurisdiction over the petition for review of the decision to grant Trajosa a permit; whether to grant long-haul authority based on the results of the pilot program was "committed to agency discretion by law" and was thus unreviewable; and therefore the panel may not review the FMCSA's decision to grant Trajosa an operating permit. View "International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. USDOT" on Justia Law

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The passage of Assembly Bill 97, a massive reform package designed to streamline public education financing and decentralize education governance, did not abrogate the Ninth Circuit's decisions in which the panel held that California school districts and county offices of education (COEs) are "arms of the state" entitled to state sovereign immunity. Applying the factors set forth in Mitchell v. Los Angeles Community College District, 861 F.2d 198, the panel held that school districts and COEs in California remain arms of the state and cannot face suit. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit against the Orange County Department of Education where plaintiff alleged claims related to his termination with the Department. View "Sato v. Orange County Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the NCAA's policy of excluding anyone with a felony conviction from coaching at NCAA-certified youth athletic tournaments violates Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000a(a). Section 2000a(a) prohibits racial discrimination in places of public accommodation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the NCAA and held that even if disparate-impact claims were cognizable under Title II, plaintiff has not shown that an equally effective, less discriminatory alternative to the NCAA's felon-exclusion policy exists, as he must do under the three-step analysis for disparate-impact claims set forth in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989). The panel noted that it need not decide whether to endorse or reject disparate-impact liability under Title II. View "Hardie v. NCAA" on Justia Law

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San Francisco's Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance, a law designed to protect indigent women facing unexpected pregnancies from the harms posed by false or misleading advertising by limited services pregnancy centers (LSPCs), is constitutional and not preempted by state law. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions in favor of the City and held that the Ordinance is facially valid where it only regulates unprotected commercial speech and is not void for vagueness. The Ordinance was valid as applied to First Resort because it did not regulate First Resort's protected speech, First Resort's commercial speech was not inextricably intertwined with its protected speech, and the Ordinance did not discriminate based on viewpoint. The panel also held that the Ordinance does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, and is not preempted by California Business and Professions Code 17500. View "First Resort, Inc. v. Herrera" on Justia Law

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Oregon sought a declaratory judgment that, under state law, the DEA must obtain a court order to enforce investigative subpoenas. The ACLU intervened, arguing that the DEA's use of subpoenas violated their Fourth Amendment rights. The district court reached the merits of the Fourth Amendment claim and found a violation of privacy interests asserted by the ACLU. The Ninth Circuit reversed without reaching the merits of the Fourth Amendment claim, holding that the ACLU lacked Article III standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the DEA from obtaining prescription records without a warrant supported by probable cause. The panel explained that the Supreme Court recently clarified this independent standing requirement for intervenors in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, No. 16-605, slip op. at 6 (U.S. June 5, 2017). The panel also held that the federal administrative subpoena statute, 21 U.S.C. 876, preempted Oregon's statutory court order requirement. View "OR Prescription Drug Monitoring Program v. ACLU" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Neiman Marcus, alleging interference with the exercise of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12203(b). The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order finding this action moot and granting summary judgment to Neiman Marcus. The panel held that section 12203 authorized the district court to award nominal damages as equitable relief to plaintiff. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Bayer v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, alleging that the City had systematically failed to comply with federal and state disability access laws, seeking declarative and injunctive relief. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that the City's public right-of-way, pools, libraries, parks, and recreation facilities were not readily accessible to and usable by mobility-impaired individuals. The Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiff class has standing for claims related to all facilities challenged at trial; the district court’s credibility determinations were based on legal errors and its interpretation of the Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) was erroneous; and the district court properly rejected plaintiff's program access claims. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for reevaluation of the extent of ADAAG noncompliance. View "Kirola v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The 30-day impound of plaintiff's vehicle under Cal. Veh. Code. 14602.6(a)(1) constituted a seizure that required compliance with the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on behalf of vehicle owners whose vehicles were subjected to the 30-day impound. The panel held that the exigency that justified the seizure of plaintiff's vehicle vanished once the vehicle arrived in impound and plaintiff showed up with proof of ownership and a valid driver's license. In this case, defendants provided no justification for the seizure. View "Brewster v. Beck" on Justia Law