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Judicial Reform Ninth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals: 9th Circuit

Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

29 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

20 Dem – 9 GOP

San Francisco, California; Los Angeles, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington
Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands


About The Court:

The Ninth Circuit was established on December 10, 1869 and is by far the largest of the 13 U.S. courts of appeals due to the large population and jurisdiction. The judges on this court are known to travel to the region at which their cases take place in order to reduce the time and travel costs of the lawyers and court participants in their jurisdiction.


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Recent Cases

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Technicalities Dismiss Fourth Amendment Violation Claims

Fri, 09/12/2014

Butler v. NCRC: Plaintiff alleges fourth amendment violations when law enforcement searched her apartment without a proper warrant and consequently issued a citation. Plaintiff’s first appeals were dismissed by the district court based on the lack of clarity as to whom she was directly suing. On her third appeal, after specifying whom she intended to sue, the district court dismissed based on untimeliness of her appeal.


Circuit court affirms dismissal by district court, rejecting claims that Plaintiff identified defendants, that Plaintiff’s amended complaints did not relate back to her original complaint, and that equitable tolling applied in this case.

Read the full decision here

Ninth Circuit Dismisses Challenges to Affordable Care Act

Thu, 08/07/2014

Coons v. Lew: Coons and Novack challenged the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The District Court ruled against Coons and Novack.


The Ninth Circuit upheld the decision, affirming the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The Court also vacated the District Court’s decision with respect to Novak’s challenge to IPAB and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

Read the full decision here

Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Grant of Qualified Immunity to Police Officers

Wed, 07/02/2014

Sandoval v. Las Vegas Metro Police Department: Police officers, who were searching for two suspects, mistook a boy and his friends for intruders in the boy’s own home. The officers later admitted that the boys did not match the description of the suspects. They pointed guns at the boys, entered without a warrant, handcuffed and detained them, and shot and killed the family dog. The family sued, and the District Court ruled in favor of the police officers on all claims.


The Ninth Circuit reversed in part, concluding that the officer’s warrantless entry was not supported by probable cause and thus was unconstitutional. The Court also reversed the grant of qualified immunity to the officers on the excessive force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, and false imprisonment claims. However, the Court affirmed the District Court’s ruling in favor of the officers on the equal protection claim and municipal liability claim.

Read the full decision here

Potential Discrimination Leads to Nullification of Law

Thu, 06/19/2014

Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles: In Los Angeles there is a city law which prohibits the use of a vehicle as a livings quarters for residents. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of this law.


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs stating that the LA law opens the door for discrimination to take place against homeless or poor members of society. Therefore, the Court reasoned that application of this law could violate residents’ rights to Due Process.

Read the full decision here

American Flag Clothing Not Protected Under Freedom of Expression

Thu, 02/27/2014

Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, et al.: Two students were asked to remove clothing bearing images of the American flag after school officials learned of threats during a celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The students sued the school for violating their rights to freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection. The District Court ruled in favor of the school on all accounts.


The Ninth Circuit upheld the decision, arguing that the school anticipated violence and disruption of school activities and that its response was tailored to the circumstances.

Read the full decision here

4th Amendment Gets Complicated

Sat, 02/22/2014

Sheehan v. City & County of San Francisco: Sheehan suffers from a mental illness and did not want to be taken to a mental health facility. She filed suit alleging that police officers violated her constitutional rights by entering her home without a warrant and shooting her multiple times when she reacted violently.


The Ninth Circuit Court upheld the decision rejecting claims of municipal liability and accepting the initial entering of Sheehan’s home as justified under the emergency aid exception. However, the Court also held that there were triable issues of fact concerning whether the forced second entry was valid, whether the resulting actions of the officers constituted excessive force, and whether they failed to reasonably accommodate Sheehan’s disability. Accordingly, the Court remanded for further proceedings.

Read the full decision here

Sunflower Seeds and Frivolous Lawsuits

Fri, 02/21/2014

Lilly v. ConAgra Foods: Aleta Lilly sued ConAgra Foods under three separate California state laws for not including the sodium contained in the edible coating of sunflower seeds in the company's calculation of sodium content. The District Court granted ConAgra’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Lilly’s attempt to require different labeling was expressly preempted by federal labeling laws.


The Ninth Circuit Court reversed the decision, stating that the coating is edible and therefore must be accounted for, and that Lilly’s state-law claims would not impose a greater burden on ConAgra Foods than that imposed by federal law.

Read the full decision here

2nd Amendment Protects Concealed Carry

Fri, 02/14/2014

Peruta v. County of San Diego: Plaintiffs challenged a San Diego policy stating that public carriage of a handgun is prohibited without, among other things, demonstrating good cause, and that concern for one’s personal safety alone is not sufficient for good cause. The District Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.


The Ninth Circuit Court reversed and held that a responsible, law-abiding citizen has the 2nd Amendment right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

Read the full decision here

Houseguests Cannot Consent to Home Searches on Behalf of Owners

Sat, 11/23/2013

United States v. Arreguin: Omar Arreguin filed a motion to suppress evidence of a case found during a search of his home that took place with the consent of a houseguest. The District Court denied his motion and he appealed to the Ninth Circuit.


The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision, ruling that it was not reasonable for DEA agents to conclude that a houseguest had authority to consent to the search.

Read the full decision here