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lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 10:17 AM
LA Times has two pieces on he 9th Circuit today.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-9th-circuit-profiles19-2009apr19,0,6163962.story

Three key players on the 9th Circuit Court
By Carol J. Williams

April 19, 2009

Here are three of the most prominent judges on the 9th Circuit, reflecting the broad span of its members' ideological perspectives.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

* Appointed by President Reagan in 1985 at the age of 35.

* Chief judge since 2007 and as such sits on all 11-judge en banc rehearings, giving an advantage to the conservative faction, with whom he tends to vote on most issues.

* Praised by the left and the right for his razor-sharp intellect and eloquent opinions. The Romanian-born jurist's libertarian views give him a quirky side that last year immersed him in scandal for sharing sexually explicit jokes and pictures over the Internet.

* Credited with instigating the court's habit of writing dissents from decisions to deny en banc rehearings, to call Supreme Court attention to cases seen as straying from the more conservative line toed by circuit judges elsewhere.

Circuit Judge Stephen

Reinhardt

* Appointed by President Carter in 1980.

* Among the court's most liberal members; married to Ramona Ripston, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

* Sits on a special judicial panel weighing the risks to inmates' rights from the massive overcrowding in California prisons.

* Expresses zero tolerance for procedural errors in death penalty cases, having sat on 18 since his appointment and never voted in support of an execution.

"You don't have to think someone is innocent to say his trial wasn't fair or constitutional," he says.

Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain

* Appointed by President Reagan in 1986.

* The most consistent voice on the right, O'Scannlain often finds himself in the company of the conservative judges named to the court over the last 15 years.

* Strict in applying immigration laws that give lower-court judges the power to decide the facts of a case, including whether "unusual or extraordinary hardship" would result from an immigrant's deportation.

* Concedes that the court's decisions can vary sharply depending on which three of its 48 judges are hearing a case.

"That's the 800-pound gorilla in the room," he says of the inconsistent rulings that he and others try to correct with calls for en banc rehearings.

carol.williams@latimes.com
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http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-9th-circuit19-2009apr19,0,6190316.story

Conservatives gaining sway on a liberal bastion
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been resolving disputes for 150 years in a region once prone to settling differences with pistols. Despite today's decorum, ideological gunfights still blaze.
By Carol J. Williams

April 19, 2009

Reporting from San Francisco — Marble columns, porcelain mosaics and Venetian skylights in the palatial James R. Browning Courthouse belie the rough-and-tumble origins of the West's authoritative law court.

Birthed in Gold Rush calamity and come of age on the frontier, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been resolving disputes for 150 years in a region once prone to settling differences with pistols at high noon. If one looks closely at the bench in the main courtroom, there is a nick left by a bullet fired during the 1917 Hindu German Conspiracy Trial.

More recently, the nation's largest and busiest federal appeals court has been the scene of a more decorous -- albeit still intense -- battle between conservative and liberal jurists over civil rights, immigration, the death penalty and criminal law.

Conservatives have been gaining sway over a court that for many years was widely perceived as one of the country's last bastions of judicial liberalism. Now, President Obama is about to start putting his stamp on the court, which is the last word on most federal legal issues in California and eight other Western states from Hawaii to Montana and Arizona to Alaska. Two judgeships are vacant, a third will come open next year, and a bill in Congress could add six positions to the court, boosting the number of active judges to 35.

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 10:17 AM
cont'd

Depending on the nature of Obama's appointees, they could arrest a conservative trend on the massive court, a shift that Chief Judge Alex Kozinski calls the "regression to the mean" -- a move toward what he sees as the national judicial mainstream.

That more conservative shift is one that Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court's most prominent liberals, laments as an erosion of jurisprudence's human element.

"Judges have to have empathy. The law is not something you look up in a book and find the answer. If it was, we wouldn't need judges," said Reinhardt, who is critical of what he considers an overly "proceduralist" approach by some colleagues.

Indeed, it is the effective use of a once little-used procedure -- along with seven judges named by President George W. Bush -- that has allowed conservative jurists to gain influence on the court.



The circuit courts have their own appeals process, known as an "en banc" rehearing, in which 11 judges can take up a case after a three-judge panel has already decided it. A court's active judges vote in secret to grant or deny a rehearing. If a rehearing is denied, a judge may write a dissent from denial.

Experts inside and outside the court say the conservatives have effectively used those dissents as a signal flare to the U.S. Supreme Court. The maneuver is used almost exclusively at the 9th Circuit.

"The en banc process is a mechanism for correcting panel opinions," said Kozinski, noting that with 48 judges available across the political spectrum, "it is entirely possible you'll get an outlier opinion from a three-judge panel."

Out of the 13,000 cases the 9th Circuit disposes of in a typical year, judges write dissents from denial on no more than a few dozen, with the Supreme Court taking up just a handful of those.

The 9th Circuit these days is no more likely to be overturned by the Supreme Court than are other appellate courts, judicial statistics show. But the cases the high court does take, which often involve weighty constitutional matters, have the potential to fundamentally change the interpretation of federal law.

Judge Consuelo M. Callahan, named to the court in 2003, said she believes dissent-from-denial opinions are an effective tool.

"I've heard from Justice [Anthony] Kennedy that they do look at dissents from denial, that it doesn't go unnoticed how many people signed," she said of the high court's radar.

Shaun Martin, a University of San Diego law professor and veteran appeals court analyst, believes the conservatives appointed by Bush to the 9th Circuit are especially active in calling cases to the Supreme Court's attention that offer an opportunity to undo some of the liberal judicial policymaking of the 1960s. The 9th Circuit has issued a number of decisions -- known to stick in the craw of conservatives -- that strengthened the rights of criminal suspects.

Bush's appointees insist they don't have marching orders from Washington to advance any high-court agenda -- or the intent to do so.

Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, a frequent dissent-from-denial author appointed by Bush in 2006, said she was assigned simply "to do a good job and to follow the law."

One of the conservatives, Judge Jay S. Bybee, when he was an assistant attorney general, helped write memos guiding the CIA on how far it could go in using extreme torture while interrogating prisoners, according to Justice Department documents Obama released last week.

Some judges see the Supreme Court's inclination to review cases from the 9th Circuit as a judicial wrist slap for failing to fix its own legal misreads.

"I think a court has to be consistent in its rulings, which is why I put so much time and effort into the en banc process," said Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, just behind Kozinski as the longest-serving active judge among the conservatives. "We're not doing as good a job as we should be doing in correcting internal inconsistencies."

Called on to cite a few examples of recent decisions that needed correcting, O'Scannlain, with an I'm-glad-you-asked-that flourish, whipped out a list of 15 circuit cases from the last three years, all of which he had a role in bringing to the high court's attention.

In U.S. vs. Ressam, the Supreme Court tossed out a 9th Circuit decision to vacate the sentence of the "Millennium Bomber," who had targeted Los Angeles International Airport. In Waddington vs. Sarausad, the 9th Circuit overturned a gang member's murder conviction, citing ambiguous jury instructions; in January the Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit.

In cases involving warrantless wiretapping, the reliability of DNA evidence and the government's right to maintain a cross on public land in the Mojave Desert, final decisions are pending.

Most of the 70-odd cases the high court reviews each term pique the justices' interest because they involve a key and contentious point of law, such as church-state separation or the rights of defendants.

"They typically don't take your case to say, 'You did a great job!' " Molly C. Dwyer, clerk of the court, said of the high court's 75% reversal rate across the 13 circuits.

Reinhardt, 78, conceded the 9th Circuit remains the nation's most liberal -- which, he added, "isn't saying much" considering the judiciary's shift to the right during Bush's presidency. Bush appointed 328 judges nationwide, replacing more than a third of the federal judiciary and leaving most circuits with majority-Republican appointees.

"The Republican right cares more about the courts than anything else," Reinhardt said of what he considers highly ideological choices since the mid-1990s. "That hasn't happened with Democratic presidents. Clinton had more appointments than Bush, but half of them were conservatives."

While the court has a number of strongly liberal or conservative judges, its center is sparsely populated, according to the confidential ratings of judges from both ends of the spectrum and lawyers who appear before them.

Kozinski, a libertarian, often sides with his more liberal colleagues on 1st Amendment issues, and Clinton appointees A. Wallace Tashima and Ronald M. Gould can also be ideological switch-hitters, according to their colleagues.

"I don't have a legal mission. My mission is to decide cases," said Judge Barry G. Silverman, one of Clinton's more centrist appointees. To be advancing a president's agenda "would be like asking an umpire if we can have more strikeouts today. I just call 'em like I see 'em."

Still, conservative legal analysts insist the 9th Circuit's track record and enduring image as left of the mainstream have created deformities in the justice system, such as "forum shopping" by plaintiffs.

Anna Nicole Smith's claim to triple-digit millions from the estate of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall, was hijacked from Texas to 9th Circuit jurisdiction through her filing with a federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles, contends law professor Horace Cooper, a former Bush administration official who's now a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty.

"I don't want a bankruptcy judge in L.A. to determine what Texas probate law is," Cooper said.

Beyond the highly charged ideological issues, the 9th Circuit's importance in the judicial system also reflects the cutting-edge intellectual property issues emanating from places such as Silicon Valley and Seattle, the preponderance of immigration cases in the Southwest, the backlog of death penalty appeals, and the sheer numbers of people, businesses and cultural and religious entities in the region.

In some judges' view, the circuit's vastness has its upside. Scattered among 17 cities, the randomly selected panels rotate among the venues, exposing judges to the diversity of the West's problems and issues.

On the road, most judges dine together on the first night of their weeklong panels. Despite the ideological gaps, the gatherings are described by all as convivial.

But appearances can be deceiving.

Judge Carlos T. Bea knowingly observed of the amicable atmosphere in which the strange bedfellows of the court conduct their business: "Don't mistake the necessary lubricant of civilization -- good manners -- with friendship."

carol.williams@latimes.com

lomalinda
04-19-2009, 10:21 AM
http://www.thegunzone.com/rkba/rkba-9.html

p7m8jg
04-19-2009, 10:29 AM
The Ninth Jerkut Court of Appeals sucks. They're the most overturned and overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court than any other Federal Appellate Court in the United States.

In state cases, Deputy California Attorney Generals worry more about the Ninth Jerkut screwing things up than any other state appellate court. Even when they know they'll win the appeal through all the STate courts, the Ninth is always there, waiting, lurking, hoping to overturn something to their own liberal, leftist advantage.

It's time we broke them up into smaller groups & made them more responsive to the electorate, which they're not. I can only dream....

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 10:39 AM
The Ninth Jerkut Court of Appeals sucks. They're the most overturned and overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court than any other Federal Appellate Court in the United States.

In state cases, Deputy California Attorney Generals worry more about the Ninth Jerkut screwing things up than any other state appellate court. Even when they know they'll win the appeal through all the STate courts, the Ninth is always there, waiting, lurking, hoping to overturn something to their own liberal, leftist advantage.

It's time we broke them up into smaller groups & made them more responsive to the electorate, which they're not. I can only dream....

im sure president obama well make things much more consistent.

berto
04-19-2009, 1:06 PM
It's time we broke them up into smaller groups & made them more responsive to the electorate, which they're not. I can only dream....

The judicial branch of the fed. govt. isn't designed to be responsive to the electorate. Checks and balances and all that.

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 1:50 PM
The judicial branch of the fed. govt. isn't designed to be responsive to the electorate. Checks and balances and all that.

thats the job of the legislature and ever more so the Assembly/HoR.

Telperion
04-19-2009, 3:39 PM
If those are the 3 key players in the 9th circuit, we're in decent shape. Kozinski wrote one of the most impassioned defenses of the 2nd amendment in his Silveira dissent, with language that was at times stronger than Scalia's. O'Scannlian also leans pro-2A is one of the 3 panelists deciding Nordyke.

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 3:58 PM
If those are the 3 key players in the 9th circuit, we're in decent shape. Kozinski wrote one of the most impassioned defenses of the 2nd amendment in his Silveira dissent, with language that was at times stronger than Scalia's. O'Scannlian also leans pro-2A is one of the 3 panelists deciding Nordyke.

yes but like many calguners state the judges Obama will appoint will move the circuits and the SCOTUS to left but by how much i do not know. (he may appoint moderates but i dont think he will appoint any conservatives.)

bulgron
04-19-2009, 8:25 PM
yes but like many calguners state the judges Obama will appoint will move the circuits and the SCOTUS to left but by how much i do not know. (he may appoint moderates but i dont think he will appoint any conservatives.)

He'll probably appoint judges who will support his desire to redistribute wealth in society. Certainly they'll be people who agree with his perception of the constitution as a document of negative rights. And they'll be living document, results-oriented justices.

In other words, the exact kind of people who hate gun rights.

We could have had the 2A fight locked up if McCain had won. As it is, the fight is still up in the air.

hoffmang
04-19-2009, 9:57 PM
These three (even Reinhardt) will be leaning our way in gun cases. However, one very real place that Obama will hurt our side is by appointing judges who will be no friends of the 2A at the district court and court of appeals level.

-Gene

yellowfin
04-19-2009, 10:31 PM
Can we fight against the confirmation of the appointments? There is technically a vote on the matter.

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 10:37 PM
perhaps a filibuster?

hoffmang
04-19-2009, 10:55 PM
perhaps a filibuster?

It's not a good idea. That way leads to a race to the bottom from both sides and I'd rather have enough judges to get cases handled somewhat effeciently.

-Gene

lioneaglegriffin
04-19-2009, 11:04 PM
It's not a good idea. That way leads to a race to the bottom from both sides and I'd rather have enough judges to get cases handled somewhat effeciently.

-Gene

so we got nothing?

yellowfin
04-19-2009, 11:23 PM
It's not a good idea. That way leads to a race to the bottom from both sides and I'd rather have enough judges to get cases handled somewhat effeciently.

-Gene I'm not sure I follow. Having a whole new string of ultra left judges is an acceptable outcome because...? Gridlock to block further bad progress I'd rather have 10 to 1 over smoothly flowing bad stuff. Or, maybe you're saying don't filibuster, that would just make everyone mad, just get on the senators and get them to vote down the nominees outright just as if they were opposing bad legislation.

bwiese
04-19-2009, 11:38 PM
I'm not sure I follow. Having a whole new string of ultra left judges is an acceptable outcome because...? Gridlock to block further bad progress I'd rather have 10 to 1

You want gridlock when we have a friendly bunch of Supremes?

Let's move things along rapidly before Scalia has too much pasta or Clarence Thomas has one too many cheeseburgers.

yellowfin
04-19-2009, 11:48 PM
Will the fastest of appeals---which if Big N is any indication sure as hell isn't fast--even make it to the current makeup of Supremes at this rate?

A quick added note: are there any other missing ingredients needed to topple Hickman once Big N is in play?

hoffmang
04-20-2009, 12:44 AM
What the Republicans do to the Democrats when they have the Presidency and the Senate is what the Democrats will do to a Republican President next time around.

McCain was critical in breaking this Catch-22 during Bush's Presidency with the so called Gang of 12. It's a deal worth sticking to or no Judge will ever get added to the bench and most Federal Courts are badly understaffed.

These are the lumps the party out of power takes when it loses.

-Gene

lioneaglegriffin
04-20-2009, 8:58 AM
i see big picture.

Pvt. Cowboy
04-20-2009, 9:21 AM
Bump for reading later...