Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs, Filipino World War II veterans and their widows, contended that their Fifth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection were violated by a statute establishing the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (FVEC) and by the VA's administration of it, resulting in their lack of payment. The district court dismissed the claims with prejudice on the pleadings for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. The court held that the Veterans' Judicial Review Act, Pub. L. No. 100-687, div. A, 102 Stat. 4105, barred review of plaintiffs' due-process claim and the district court's dismissal of the claim was appropriate. Because plaintiffs' complaint did not challenge a new classification established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 1002(i), 123 Stat. at 202, and did not allege any plausible facts suggesting that the classification in 38 U.S.C. 107 was created for a discriminatory purpose, the court held that the district court did not err when it dismissed the equal-protection claim under Rule 12(b)(6). View "Recinto, et al v. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, et al" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Honduras and a lawful permanent resident alien of the United States, petitioned for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) order dismissing his appeal from an immigration judge's order finding him removable as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony. At issue before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was whether Petitioner's conviction under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice qualified as an "aggravated felony" under the modified categorical approach as explained in the Court's recent en banc decision in United Sates v. Aguila-Montes de Oca. The Court granted the petition, concluding that Petitioner's Article 92 conviction was not an aggravated felony and Petitioner was therefore not removable. Remanded with instructions to vacate the removal order against Petitioner. View "Aguilar-Turcios v. Holder" on Justia Law

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After the September 11, 2011 attacks, the government detained plaintiff, an American citizen, as an enemy combatant. Plaintiff alleged that he was held incommunicado in military detention, subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and detained under harsh conditions of confinement, all in violation of his constitutional and statutory rights. Plaintiff and his mother sued John Yoo, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2001 to 2003, alleging that they suffered from plaintiff's unlawful detention. The court held that, under recent Supreme Court law, Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, the court was compelled to conclude that, regardless of the legality of plaintiff's detention and the wisdom of Yoo's judgments, at the time he acted the law was not "sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he [wa]s doing violated[d]" plaintiff's rights. Therefore, the court held that Yoo must be granted qualified immunity and accordingly reversed the decision of the district court. View "Padilla, et al. v. Yoo" on Justia Law

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After his unsuccessful cataract surgery, plaintiff brought a claim for battery against the United States government and his United States Navy surgeon. The United States invoked the Gonzalez Act, 10 U.S.C. 1089, immunizing individual military medical personnel from malpractice liability. At issue was whether section 1089(e) waived the government's sovereign immunity for common law battery claims. The court held that it did not and affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court did not address plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Levin v. United States, et al." on Justia Law

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This case arose when defendant was accused of drunk driving on the Kitsap Naval Base in Bremerton, Washington. At issue was whether the Government violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by prosecuting and convicting defendant for a crime after the Navy punished him for the same offense. The Government argued that the Double Jeopardy Clause was not implicated because the non-judicial punishment administered by the Navy under 10 U.S.C. 815 was not criminal in nature. The court agreed and held that the Government's prosecution of defendant was not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. Accordingly, defendant's conviction was affirmed. View "United States v. Reveles" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence of three years' imprisonment for unlawfully exporting PVS-14 Gen 3 night-vision devices in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), 22 U.S.C. 2778. These devices, designed for military use, enabled users to see at greater distances in low light and dark conditions. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by following the Sentencing Guidelines where the sentence was substantively reasonable because the district court explained that it had considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and the district court had granted a downward departure. View "United States v. Carper" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this suit in 2004, challenging the constitutionality of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, 10 U.S.C. 654(b). While an appeal was pending in this case, Congress enacted the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-321, 124 Stat. 3515. Consequently, the court held that this case became moot when the repeal of section 654 took effect on September 20, 2010. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded with directions to dismiss. View "Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty for violating 18 U.S.C. 704(a), which prohibited the unauthorized wearing of military medals, where defendant fraudulently obtained a Purple Heart and wore it in public. On appeal, defendant challenged the constitutionality of the statute. The court held that defendant's overbreadth challenge failed because a person violated the unauthorized wearing portion of section 704(a) only if he or she had an intent to deceive. The court rejected defendant's argument that United States v. Alvarez dictated that section 704(a) was unconstitutional. The court held that, under United States v. O'Brien, the government had a compelling interest in preventing the intentionally deceptive wearing of medals; those interests were unrelated to the suppression of free expression because section 704(a) did not prevent the expression of any particular message or viewpoint; and section 704(a) promoted the goals of maintaining the integrity of the military's medals and preventing the fraudulent wearing of military medals. Therefore, the court rejected defendant's facial First Amendment challenge. View "United States v. Perelman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an employee of the Veterans Health Administration, submitted eight requests under the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, primarily asking for emails to and from specified individuals. At issue was whether an agency fulfilled its disclosure obligation by offering to supply the documents to the requester, but only in his capacity as an employee of that agency. Also at issue was the application to internal emails of FOIA Exemption 6, which provided that an agency could withhold "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." The court held that plaintiff's claim as to the 157 emails was not mooted by the VA's offer to provide him the records in his capacity as its employee. The court remanded for the district court to consider the VA's claimed exceptions as to those emails in the first instance. The court also held that, as to the VA's application of Exemption 6 to the nine in camera emails, the district court's decision was vacated and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "Yonemoto v. Dept. of Veterans Affair" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the tragic February 2007 crash of an Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment helicopter in Afghanistan. Plaintiffs, who include those injured and the heirs of those killed in the crash, appealed from the district court's dismissal of AT Engine Controls (ATEC) for lack of personal jurisdiction and from the court's summary judgment in favor of The Boeing Company (Boeing), Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell), and Goodrich Pump and Engine Control (Goodrich) (collectively, contractors). The court considered each of plaintiffs' arguments challenging the district court's dismissal of ATEC for lack of personal jurisdiction and its summary judgment in favor of the contractors, finding none of these arguments persuasive. The court also held that because the government contractor defense barred each of plaintiffs' state-law claims, the court need not consider the contractors' alternative argument, based on the combatant activities exception, for upholding the district court's summary judgment. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was affirmed. View "Getz, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al." on Justia Law