The Ninth Circuit Court has now been overturned more often than Martha Stewart’s garden soil. Overturning the Ninth Circuit has become the national pastime of the high-court, just after baseball and eminent domain:

The case was Carey v. Musladin, where the Court held that a federal appeals court improperly overturned a state court ruling allowing a murder victim’s family to wear buttons depicting the victim’s face during a criminal trial. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated Mathew Musladin’s 32-year prison sentence for first-degree murder, asserting that the buttons deprived Musladin, who pleaded self-defense, of a fair trial by tacitly indicating that he acted as the instigator in the underlying shooting.

During trial, Musladin’s lawyer requested the judge ban the buttons, which family members wore in plain sight of the jury, and the Ninth Circuit ruled [text, PDF] that the buttons created an outside influence that impermissibly affected the jury and his right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court ruled that the Ninth Circuit exceeded its authority under 28 USC 2254(d)(1) [text] by finding that the state court’s decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law.”

The rest of the story is in The Jurist.

I’ve written much about the oft-overturned liber-wacky Ninth Circuit. Relatively recent examples are here and here. Why? Because it’s fun. They’re sort of like the Gilligan of Judicial Island, and I love slapstick.


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