Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The Ninth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability (COA) allowing petitioner to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Petitioner's motion asserted that a report issued on August 12, 2020, by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which concluded that petitioner's trial and sentence violated his rights under the American Declaration, requires that his death sentence be vacated, that he must be released or given a new trial, and that he cannot be sentenced to death after a new trial.The panel held that reasonable jurists would not find debatable the district court's conclusion that the IACHR's decision is not binding in federal court. In this case, the district court concluded that IACHR rulings do not have binding power within the United States by virtue of the Organization of American States (OAS) Charter because the OAS Charter is not self-executing, and Congress has passed no statute to implement it. Furthermore, the district court rejected petitioner's argument that IACHR decisions are binding because they are derived, through the OAS Charter, from the American Declaration on the ground that the American Declaration is not a treaty and creates no binding set of obligations. View "Mitchell v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for the return of a child to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Petitioner is the child's paternal half-sister and respondent is the child's maternal grandmother, who has been raising the child in Las Vegas, Nevada since 2017.In this case, the district court clearly erred in its factual finding regarding the date of removal, which was August 25, 2017. Furthermore, respondent's removal of the child was wrongful because it breached the Mexican court's rights of custody. Because the petition was filed more than one year after the date of wrongful removal, the district court had discretion to decline to order the return of the child. Because petitioner does not appeal the district court's findings that the child is now settled in Las Vegas, nor does petitioner argue that the district court abused its discretion in declining to order return, the panel affirmed the district court's discretionary decision not to order the return of the child pending custody proceedings. View "Flores Castro v. Hernandez Renteria" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought by U.S. servicemembers and their families against TEPCO and GE, alleging that they were exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Japanese Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage provides that the operator of a nuclear power plant is strictly liable for any damage caused by the operation of the power plant but no other person shall be liable.The panel held that Japan's Compensation Act was a liability-limiting statute with outcome-determinative implications and was substantive for Erie purposes. In this case, the district court did not err in proceeding with the full choice-of-law analysis at the motion-to-dismiss stage of the litigation. The panel applied California's three step "governmental interest" test in deciding the choice-of-law questions and ultimately concluded that the district court did not err when it decided that the laws of Japan, not California, govern plaintiffs' claims against GE. The panel likewise held that the district court did not err in proceeding with the choice-of-law analysis and finding that Japanese law also applies to plaintiffs' claims against TEPCO. Finally, having decided that Japanese law applies to the case and considering Japan's strong interests in the case being litigated in Japan, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the claims against TEPCO on international-comity grounds. View "Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Co." on Justia Law

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The City of Almaty, in Kazakhstan, filed suit against defendant and his family under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), alleging that they engaged in a scheme to defraud the city of millions of dollars. The City claimed that it was forced to spend money and resources in the United States to trace where its money was laundered. The district court dismissed the City's claim on the basis that it failed to state a domestic injury pursuant to the Supreme Court's recent decision in RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Community, 136 S. Ct. 2090 (2016).The Ninth Circuit held that the City failed to state any cognizable injury other than the foreign theft of its funds, and its voluntary expenditures were not proximately caused by defendants' acts of money laundering. In this case, the City's expenditure of funds to trace its allegedly stolen funds is a consequential damage of the initial theft suffered in Kazakhstan and is not causally connected to the predicate act of money laundering. View "City of Almaty v. Khrapunov" on Justia Law

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After Cerner filed an action in state court against defendants, defendants removed the action to federal district court. Cerner moved to remand to state court, arguing that the removal was improper and that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action. The district court denied the motion to remand and held that it could exercise jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. 205, which authorizes a defendant to remove to federal court an action previously filed in state court that relates to an arbitration agreement or award falling under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of June 10, 1958.The Ninth Circuit reversed and held that this case was not related to an international arbitration agreement or award, as that term is used in section 205. Therefore, section 205 did not provide a proper basis for removal or for federal subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The panel held that the outcome of this case could not conceivably be affected by the arbitration awarded. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to remand to state court. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. Belbadi Enterprises" on Justia Law

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Cerner filed suit against defendant and iCapital in state court, seeking to enforce an arbitration award against property in Oregon owned by defendants. After removal, the district court dismissed the action. While this appeal was pending, the Court of Appeal of Paris, a court with jurisdiction over defendant, confirmed the arbitration panel's conclusion that defendant was subject to the panel's jurisdiction.The Ninth Circuit held that the French court's decision was entitled to recognition under the principles of international comity and thus the elements of quasi in rem jurisdiction were present. The panel held that Cerner possessed a valid judgment against defendant, who owns property in Oregon, and thus the panel reversed the district court's dismissal of the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. iCapital, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a securities fraud action because it was barred by the act of state doctrine. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants knowingly failed to disclose legal deficiencies under Mexican tax law in the 2012 APA Ruling and sold shares knowing these legal deficiencies existed.The panel held that plaintiffs' claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 would require a United States court to pass judgment on the validity of a 2012 ruling by Mexico's tax authority. In this case, the mandatory elements of applying the act of state doctrine were satisfied and the policies underlying the doctrine weighed in favor of applying it to bar plaintiffs' claims. Agreeing with its sister circuits, the panel held that the district court was not required to consider the Sabbatino factors. The panel declined to reconsider whether a tax ruling by the Mexican government, that remains valid in Mexico, complied with Mexico's tax laws. View "Royal Wulff Ventures LLC v. Primero Mining Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for engaging in a monetary transaction of over $10,000 derived from a specified unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1956. In this case, defendant, a citizen of South Korea employed at a government-funded research institute, solicited and received payments from two seismometer manufacturers in exchange for ensuring that the research institute purchased their products, and gave the companies inside information about their competitors.The panel held that "bribery of a public official" in section 1956 is defined by that phrase's ordinary, contemporary, common meaning and is not constrained by 18 U.S.C. 201, a statute to which section 1956 makes no reference. Because the panel found the crime described in Article 129 of the South Korean Criminal Code fits comfortably within the ordinary meaning of "bribery of a public official" as used in section 1956, the panel held that the indictment was sufficient and that there was no instructional error. View "United States v. Heon-Cheol Chi" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought in 2010 against the Republic of Turkey and two Turkish national banks, seeking compensation for property taken from plaintiffs' ancestors during the Armenian Genocide.The panel affirmed the judgment of the district court, because plaintiffs' claims, filed almost a century after the Armenian Genocide, were time-barred. California previously adopted a statute in 2006 to provide that any limitations period for suits arising out of the Armenian Genocide would not expire until December 31, 2016. Under this statute, plaintiffs' claims were timely filed. However, the panel subsequently held that the California law was unconstitutional. Therefore, plaintiffs' claims were facially time-barred in the absence of the statute. View "Bakalian v. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that the parents of a U.S. citizen killed during a military operation conducted by a foreign nation abroad may not sue the foreign official responsible for the operation in federal court on different theories of wrongful death claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action and held that defendant was entitled to foreign official immunity where his acts were performed in his official capacity, where the sovereign government has ratified his conduct, and where the U.S. Department of State has asked the judiciary to grant him foreign official immunity.The panel need not decide the level of deference owed to the State Department's suggestion of immunity in this case, because even if the suggestion of immunity is afforded "substantial weight" rather than "absolute deference," defendant would still be entitled to immunity. The panel explained that exercising jurisdiction over defendant would be to enforce a rule of law against the sovereign state of Israel, and that defendant would therefore be entitled to common-law foreign sovereign immunity. Even if defendant was entitled to common law immunity, the panel held that Congress has abrogated common law foreign official immunity via the TVPA. View "Dogan v. Barak" on Justia Law