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Plaintiffs, three officers of Latino descent, filed suit against the City and Westminster Police Chiefs, alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race and religion. The jury awarded plaintiffs general and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and costs. The panel held that the district court properly denied the City's motion for a new trial and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether Plaintiff Flores failed to establish his claim of retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov't Code 12900–12996. In this case, the evidence at trial would permit a trier of fact to conclude he was subjected to adverse employment actions, that his protected conduct was a substantial motivating factor behind the adverse employment actions, and that the City's proffered reasons for its actions were pretextual. Accordingly, the panel affirmed as to this issue and also affirmed the jury's award of damages to Officer Flores on the FEHA retaliation claim. The panel further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in regard to evidentiary rulings, and the jury's verdict against two police chiefs for race discrimination was not fatally inconsistent. However, the panel vacated the judgment against Chief Mitchell Waller, who died before trial, and remanded to the district court to grant two officers leave to substitute the Chief's estate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a)(1). View "Flores v. City of Westminster" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In this case, the district court treated defendant's prior conviction under Washington's second-degree assault statute, Revised Code of Washington section 9A.36.021, as a crime of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines. State court documents from the prior conviction demonstrated that defendant had pleaded guilty to violating section 9A.36.021(1)(c), assault with a deadly weapon. The panel held that this case was controlled by its recent decision in United States v. Robinson, 869 F.3d 933 (9th Cir. 2017), in which the panel held that section 9A.36.021 is not a crime of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines. The panel explained that section 9A.36.021 criminalizes conduct that does not meet the generic federal definition of crime of violence and was not divisible. The panel concluded that United States v. Jennen, 596 F.3d 594 (9th Cir. 2010), was overruled. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Slade" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of qualified immunity for the sheriff and affirmed the dismissal of claims brought by family members alleging that the sheriff used excessive force when he shot and killed Manuel Longoria. The panel held that the sheriff's credibility or the accuracy of his version of the facts was a central question that had to be answered by a jury. Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity because there was a material issue of fact as to whether the sheriff violated Longoria's clearly established constitutional right. However, Longoria's family did not have standing to sue on their own behalves. Finally, the panel reversed the grant of summary judgment on plaintiffs' wrongful death claim under Arizona state law, because there was a material dispute of facts as to the use of reasonable deadly force. View "Longoria v. Pinal County" on Justia Law

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An obstruction of justice enhancement under USSG 3C1.1 may be founded upon a finding of malingering. The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for receipt and distribution of child pornography. In this case, defendant had no legal or factual basis to challenge either the obstruction of justice or pornography distribution enhancements because defendant made no factual objections and thus there was no violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32. View "United States v. Bonnett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order dismissing two actions under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). On the merits, the panel affirmed the district court's order denying a preliminary injunction in appeal No. 15-16253, holding that Nationwide was unlikely to succeed on its claim that the First Amendment precludes California from requiring it to make certain truthful disclosures in its mail solicitations. The panel vacated the district court's order denying a preliminary injunction in appeal No. 15-16220, holding that Nationwide was likely to succeed on its claim that the Dormant Commerce Clause precludes California from making in-state incorporation a prerequisite of licensure to engage in interstate commerce. Accordingly, the panel remanded both cases for further proceedings. View "Nationwide Biweekly Admin. v. Owen" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the petition for habeas relief based on lack of exhaustion claims. In this case, the district court dismissed claims challenging petitioner's murder conviction and death sentence, finding that, although he presented them to the California Supreme Court, he subsequently waived them by means of a handwritten, pro se filing. The panel held that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support a finding that petitioner's handwritten form constituted a valid waiver of his right to proceed and that the State failed to carry its burden to the contrary. Therefore, the district court erred by dismissing the claims as unexhausted and the court remanded so that the district court could adjudicate the claims on the merits. View "Kirkpatrick v. Chappell" on Justia Law

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A textual and historical analysis of the Second Amendment demonstrates that the Constitution does not confer a freestanding right on commercial proprietors to sell firearms. The en banc court affirmed the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit alleging that the County violated plaintiff's Second Amendment rights, as well as those of his potential customers, when it denied plaintiff conditional use permits to open a gun shop. The panel held that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the County's ordinance impedes any resident of Alameda County who wishes to purchase a firearm from doing so, and thus he failed to state a claim for relief based on infringement of the Second Amendment rights of his potential customers. The panel reasoned that plaintiff could not state a Second Amendment claim based solely on the ordinance's restriction on his ability to sell firearms. View "Teixeira v. County of Alameda" on Justia Law

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A tribe qualifies to have land taken into trust for its benefit under 25 U.S.C. 5108 of the Indian Reorganization Act if it (1) was "under Federal jurisdiction" as of June 18, 1934, and (2) is "recognized" at the time the decision is made to take land into trust. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Interior and the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in a case involving a dispute over a proposed casino in the County. The panel held that the Interior's reading of the ambiguous phrase "under Federal jurisdiction" was the best interpretation and the Interior did not err in adopting that interpretation for purposes of deciding whether the Ione Band was "under Federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. Finally, the Interior did not err in allowing the Band to conduct gaming operations on the Plymouth Parcels under the "restored tribe" exception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2719(a). View "County of Amador v. USDOI" on Justia Law

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Threats to sue fall within the purview of the constitutionally protected right to file grievances. Both the filing of a criminal complaint by a prisoner, as well as the threat to do so, are protected by the First Amendment, provided they are not baseless. Plaintiff, a prisoner at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was disciplined for threatening to initiate civil litigation and file a criminal complaint against prison officials. The Ninth Circuit held that because plaintiff had alleged cognizable First Amendment retaliation claims regarding his threats to sue, and qualified immunity did not attach, it was improper to dismiss the complaint in its entirety under Rule 12(c). However, in regard to plaintiff's threat to file a criminal complaint, even though it was a constitutionally protected right, qualified immunity attached. Therefore, dismissal of that aspect of the complaint was proper. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Entler v. Gregoire" on Justia Law

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TDY filed a complaint under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9613(f)(1), seeking contribution from the government for its equitable share of the cleanup costs. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of judgment in favor of the United States, which allocated 100 percent of past and future CERCLA costs to TDY. The panel agreed with the district court that some deviation from the allocation affirmed in Shell Oil Co., 294 F.3d at 1049, and Cadillac Fairview, 299 F.3d at 1022–23, was warranted by distinguishing facts. However, the panel held that encumbering a military contractor with 100 percent of CERCLA cleanup costs that were largely incurred during war-effort production was a 180 degree departure from the panel's prior case law, and the out-of-circuit authority that the district court relied upon did not warrant such a sharp deviation. In this case, the district court did not adequately consider the parties' lengthy course of dealings and the government's requirement that TDY use two of the hazardous chemicals at issue. Accordingly, the court remanded for additional proceedings. View "TDY Holdings v. United States" on Justia Law