Articles Tagged with Ninth Circuit

printingThe Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently announced that it will move to “in-house publishing” of its opinions. According to the press release, “Court staff now manage the process of converting opinions from the original word processing documents into Adobe PDF files, which are then uploaded onto the website, where they can be viewed and/or downloaded by the public.” This task was previously managed by West Publishing, and bringing it in house is expected to save the court $350,000 in the first year.

Hooray? Sort of. I’m glad the Ninth Circuit will be saving itself over a quarter of a million dollars, but that’s basically the only public benefit here. In fact, the headline on the press release is a bit misleading, because the court is not officially publishing their own opinions – West is still doing that. The documents they post are only slip opinions. They are official and can be cited only for a short time before they are published by the official publisher (The Federal Reporter, owned by Thompson West). In order to effect real savings and provide true open access for the public, the Ninth Circuit needs to take this further and actually publish their own opinions.

Right now, when the Ninth Circuit judges issue an opinion and release it on the Web, it is immediately available to read and cite as a slip. After that, however, they send the opinions to Westlaw, who copy-edits each opinion and adds a citation in order to resell it in this final “official” version (in the Federal Reporter). I talked with David Madden in the Public Information Office at the Court, and he confirmed that this process will not change; West’s Federal Reporter will continue to publish the official opinions. Continue reading →

Writ columnists Vik Amar and Alan Brownstein recently wrote an interesting article on the latest ruling in the litigation regarding Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay-marriage initiative. Using the process known as certification, the Ninth Circuit, in trying to figure out if the the proponents of Prop. 8 had standing to defend the case in federal court, asked the California Supreme Court for their input on “whether, at least as a matter of California law, initiative proponents enjoy some special capacity to represent the state’s electorate when public officials decline to defend a law adopted through direct democracy.”

This wasn’t the only case where the Ninth Circuit requested certification from the California Supreme Court. In fact, the Stanford Law School SCOCAL site has a whole chart about certification issues. This chart was created by attorneys at Hughes Hubbard and Reed (the family firm) and it tracks the questions of certification from the 9th Circuit to the California Supreme Court, with coverage from 1998 to the present, providing the text of the actual question or questions along with the associated 9th Circuit and California Supreme Court decisions. (Links to the full text of the decisions are also provided.)  To learn more about the resource, check out Erika Wayne’s post from Legal Research Plus and also check out the chart, here.

Earlier this week, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges held in Diaz v. Brewer that an Arizona bill withdrawing health benefits for domestic partners of state employees violated the federal Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

The state originally offered these benefits to spouses of state employees, but in April 2008 expanded coverage to include both same-sex and different-sex domestic partners. In September 2009, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that restricted benefits once again only to (different-sex) spouses. Several state employees whose same-sex partners would lose their much-needed health benefits if the bill went into effect brought this suit to enjoin the governor and relevant state officials from implementing the new law. Represented by Lambda Legal—the largest legal organization working for the civil rights of LGBT people—the employees challenged the law as violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Continue reading →