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

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought in 2010 against the Republic of Turkey and two Turkish national banks, seeking compensation for property taken from plaintiffs' ancestors during the Armenian Genocide. The panel affirmed the judgment of the district court, because plaintiffs' claims, filed almost a century after the Armenian Genocide, were time-barred. California previously adopted a statute in 2006 to provide that any limitations period for suits arising out of the Armenian Genocide would not expire until December 31, 2016. Under this statute, plaintiffs' claims were timely filed. However, the panel subsequently held that the California law was unconstitutional. Therefore, plaintiffs' claims were facially time-barred in the absence of the statute. View "Bakalian v. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order refusing to compel the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs to place the Aqua Caliente Tribe of Cupeño Indians on a list of federally recognized tribes published in the Federal Register. The panel held that the Tribe failed to exhaust the regulatory process under 25 C.F.R. 83 to obtain federal recognition. Instead, the Tribe argued that the Part 83 process did not apply because they sought "correction" of the list, not recognition. However, the panel held that framing the issue as one of "correction" was unsupported by the applicable regulations and case law. In regard to the Tribe's equal protection and Administrative Procedure Act claims, the panel held that Interior had a rational basis for not making an exception to the Part 83 process for the Tribe. The panel concluded that it was rational for the Interior to ask the Tribe to demonstrate through the Part 83 process how they are a "distinct Community" from the Pala Band of Mission Indians and "politically autonomous" so that Interior may make the federal-recognition determination, and Interior's explanation for treating the Tribe differently from other tribes passed muster. View "Agua Caliente Tribe of Cupeño Indians of the Pala Reservation v. Sweeney" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question of state law to the Supreme Court of Hawai'i: Under Hawai'i law, is a permissive user of an insured vehicle, whose connection to the insured vehicle is permission to use the vehicle to run errands and drive to work, entitled to uninsured motorist (UM) benefits under the chain-of-events test because he was injured by an uninsured motorist? View "State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, Co. v. Mizuno" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment dismissing a habeas corpus petition in which petitioner, who has been detained for thirteen years awaiting trial for recommitment under the California Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), alleged that the State of California was violating his due process rights by continuing to detain him pretrial based on an outdated and scientifically invalid probable cause finding. The panel rejected petitioner's contention, that his SVPA case has been stalled for so long that it was no longer "ongoing" for purposes of Younger abstention, as foreclosed by precedent. The panel also held that the delay in bringing petitioner's case to trial was not an extraordinary circumstance under Younger. Furthermore, petitioner's claim fits squarely within the "irreparable harm" exception to Younger abstention in Arevalo v. Hennessy, 882 F.3d 763 (9th Cir. 2018). Therefore, the district court erred in abstaining under Younger from hearing petitioner's claim that the state was violating his pretrial due process rights. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Page v. King" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that petitioner's conviction under Oregon Revised Statute 163.187(1) for "strangulation" was categorically a crime of violence for purposes of removability under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The panel also held that the BIA abused its discretion in designating petitioner's offense of conviction as a "particularly serious crime." The panel denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision because petitioner failed to carry his burden of showing eligibility for withholding of removal or for protection under the Convention Against Torture; and the BIA's denial of petitioner's application for relief was supported by substantial evidence. View "Flores-Vega v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that the parents of a U.S. citizen killed during a military operation conducted by a foreign nation abroad may not sue the foreign official responsible for the operation in federal court on different theories of wrongful death claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action and held that defendant was entitled to foreign official immunity where his acts were performed in his official capacity, where the sovereign government has ratified his conduct, and where the U.S. Department of State has asked the judiciary to grant him foreign official immunity. The panel need not decide the level of deference owed to the State Department's suggestion of immunity in this case, because even if the suggestion of immunity is afforded "substantial weight" rather than "absolute deference," defendant would still be entitled to immunity. The panel explained that exercising jurisdiction over defendant would be to enforce a rule of law against the sovereign state of Israel, and that defendant would therefore be entitled to common-law foreign sovereign immunity. Even if defendant was entitled to common law immunity, the panel held that Congress has abrogated common law foreign official immunity via the TVPA. View "Dogan v. Barak" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following questions of state law to the California Supreme Court: 1) Does the absence of a formal policy regarding meal and rest breaks violate California law? 2) Does an employer's failure to keep records for meal and rest breaks taken by its employees create a rebuttable presumption that the meal and rest breaks were not provided? View "Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc." on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. Defendant alleged that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a notice of appeal. In this case, the government never had the opportunity to challenge defendant's assertion, because both the district court's and this court's prior rulings held that the collateral attack waiver nonetheless barred the section 2255 motion. Therefore, the panel held that the district court, on remand, should determine whether defendant expressly instructed his attorney to file a notice of appeal, and if not, whether counsel failed to consult, and if so, whether that failure constituted deficient performance. View "United States v. Fabian-Baltazar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's finding that he "frequented" a prohibited place in violation of a special condition of his supervised release. The special condition was imposed, along with other special conditions, after defendant pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. The district court concluded that defendant violated his special condition by watching a pornographic movie at an adult store. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in finding that defendant frequented a prohibited place, because defendant visited an adult store only once. The panel affirmed in part, holding that the district court did not err by concluding that the special condition was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad, because the condition was not meaningfully distinguishable from a condition the panel approved in United States v. Gnirke, 775 F.3d 1155 (9th Cir. 2015), and properly abridged defendant's right to free speech in order to effectively address his sexual deviance problem. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Ochoa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by a coalition of tribal, regional, and national conservation organizations who sued the government and others, challenging agency actions that reauthorized coal mining activities on land reserved to the Navajo Nation. The panel held that NTEC was a legally protected interest in the subject matter of this litigation, and that proceeding with the suit in NTEC's absence impaired that interest. Because no other party to the litigation could adequately represent NTEC's interests, the panel held that the district court did not err by determining that NTEC was a party that must be joined if feasible under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a). Furthermore, the district court properly concluded that NTEC was an "arm" of the Navajo Nation that enjoyed the Nation's immunity from suit and could not be joined to this action. The panel applied the Rule 19(b) factors and held that the district court did not err in concluding that the litigation could not, in good conscience, continue in NTEC's absence. Finally, the panel rejected the request to apply the public rights exception. View "Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment v. Bureau of Indian Affairs" on Justia Law