Category: Federal Courts

CA Law Banning Private Prisons Overturned

In a 2-1 decision last week a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a California law phasing out private detention facilities.  Josh Gerstein of Politico reports that the divided panel held that AB 32, signed into law by Gavin Newsom in 2019, unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration law.  California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who authored AB 32 while serving in the state Assembly, vowed to continue the fight to uphold the law, presumably with an appeal of the panel’s decision to the full Ninth Circuit.

Continue reading . . .

The Riddles of Harmless Error and Habeas Corpus – Part II

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Brown v. Davenport, No. 20-826 (transcript here; audio here).

The issue in this case involves the standard of review federal habeas courts must apply when reviewing a state court’s determination of harmless error. Davenport was partially shackled during his trial for first-degree murder. On direct appeal, the state appellate courts found that his partial shackling was unconstitutional, but was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt under the standard announced in Chapman v. California (1968). Continue reading . . .

USCA9 “Clearly Erred” on Habeas Corpus. Again.

In today’s only decision from the United States Supreme Court, the court reversed a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which that court had taken an expansive view of its own jurisdiction. The Supreme Court summarily reversed, meaning that it did not see any need to take further briefing or hear oral argument, as it does when there is some doubt of the correct result. The unsigned opinion says the Ninth Circuit “clearly erred.” No dissent is indicated.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has rebuked the Ninth in this manner on this subject. It is not the second, third, or fourth. I stopped counting years ago.

Why is the Ninth so consistently the “gang that can’t shoot straight” on this particular topic? Continue reading . . .

Circuit Courts Divided on Trump’s Sanctuary City Grants

Last Monday, the Ninth Circuit scaled back a nationwide order that blocks the Trump administration from cutting off grants to sanctuary jurisdictions after finding that the mandate should only apply in California.

Nicholas Iovino of Courthouse News reports that the new verdict comes after a 2017 lawsuit brought by San Francisco. The city sued the Justice Department after the Trump Administration announced plans to make jurisdictions ineligible for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, unless they gave immigration agents unrestricted access to local jails, and provided 48 hours’ notice before releasing undocumented immigrants from jail. California joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff, and later passed it’s own separate set of “Sanctuary State” laws in October 2017.

Continue reading . . .

USCA9 Gets Quill-Lashing From Unanimous SCOTUS

The U.S. Supreme Court severely admonished the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today for reaching out to recast a case to present issues not raised by the parties. The opinion was unanimous, written by Justice Ginsburg. The Ninth Circuit panel, at the time of the recasting, consisted of Judges Reinhardt, Tashima, and Berzon.

In United States v. Sineneng-Smith, No. 19-67, the high court disposed of the case saying,  “we vacate the Ninth Circuit’s judgment and remand the case for reconsideration shorn of the overbreadth inquiry interjected by the appellate panel and bearing a fair resemblance to the case shaped by the parties.” In judicial-speak, that is a stern rebuke. Continue reading . . .