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Summary Judgment Affirmed in Public Employee Speech Case, Plus Criminal Matters

By FindLaw Staff | Last updated on

Blair v. Bethel Sch. Dist., No. 08-35895, involved an action alleging that plaintiff's First Amendment rights were violated when his fellow school board members voted to remove him as their vice president because of his relentless criticism of the school district's superintendent.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendants, on the ground that the board's action did not prevent plaintiff from continuing to speak out, vote his conscience, and serve his constituents as a member of the board.

In US v. Villavicencio-Burruel, No. 09-50204, the First Amendment affirmed defendant's conviction for illegal reentry following deportation in violation of 8 U.S.C. section 1326, and for making false claims that he had U.S. citizenship in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 911, holding that 1) defendant did not comply with section 1326(d)(1)'s exhaustion requirement, and his waiver argument was inapposite and did not excuse the nonexhaustion; and 2) the admission of defendant's warrant of removal did not violate his Confrontation Clause rights.  However, defendant's sentence is vacated on cross-appeal by the government where a conviction for making a criminal threat under Cal. Pen. Code section 422 was categorically a conviction for a crime of violence under U.S.S.G. section 2L1.2.

In US v. O'Donnell, No. 09-50296, a prosecution for violating federal campaign finance laws, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the charges of contributing in the names of others in violation of 2 U.S.C. section 441f, holding that section 441f prohibited a person from providing money to others to donate to a candidate for federal office in their own names, when in reality they were merely "straw donors."

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