9th Circuit, Alex Kozinski, Technology, Videos

Can You Help Out The Ninth Circuit?

And no, it’s not about lowering their reversal rate in the Supreme Court. In fact, in recent years the Sixth Circuit has surpassed the Ninth Circuit as the most-reversed appeals court in SCOTUS. (Veteran Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein also pointed this out at our ATL reception with him a few weeks ago.)

So how can you help out the Ninth Circuit? It’s a very easy and simple request, sent to us from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….

(Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

Unlike many other appellate courts (cough cough SCOTUS), the Ninth Circuit has shown a commendable willingness to let cameras into the courtroom. And now it’s going even farther than it has in the past, as reported by CNN:

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, has announced it will provide live streaming video for some of its oral arguments beginning Monday. Five appeals will be available online this week, beginning with a privacy case testing whether police can keep DNA profiles of criminal suspects, even after charges have been dismissed. Judicial officials say it is the first time a federal appeals court will use its equipment to offer live streams to the public, which can be accessed for free on the circuit’s website, ca9.uscourts.gov….

“The 9th Circuit has a long history of using advances in technology to make the court more accessible and transparent,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. “Video streaming is a way to open the court’s doors even wider so that more people can see and hear what transpires in the courtroom, particularly in regard to some of our most important cases.”

The Ninth Circuit has allowed media outlets like C-SPAN and CNN to record and air certain high-profile oral arguments over the years (e.g., the Proposition 8 case, which we liveblogged). But now it will stream video of all its en banc arguments, an estimated 20 arguments per year.

So how can you help? Well, sometimes federal government websites experience technical difficulties — e.g., HealthCare.gov — and it seems that the Ninth Circuit is not immune. They think they’ve fixed the problems, but they need your help to make sure. Here’s a message from Chief Judge Kozinski:

Many thanx to those of you who tuned in for our streamed en banc argument on Monday afternoon. We had an initial crash because of overload problems, and neither the video nor the audio was of the quality we had hoped for.

We learned a good deal from this experience and hope to do better on Tuesday. We have two cases scheduled. The first is United States v. Hernandez-Estrada, No. 11-50417. Defendant claims the pool from which his petit and grand juries were drawn didn’t represent a fair cross section of the community, as required by the Sixth Amendment and the Jury Selection and Service Act.

The opinion of the three-judge panel (of which I was a member) may be found here: http://goo.gl/7LQN9g . My concurrence is on pages 18-20.

This case will be heard today (Tuesday) at 10 AM Pacific time, and the video link is here:


The second case is United States v. Preston, No. 11-10511. Appellant Tymond Preston was 18 years old and had an IQ of 65 when he confessed to raping his 8-year-old cousin. He claims that the nature of the police questioning, combined with his particular mental deficiencies, render his confession involuntary and therefore inadmissible. The opinion of the three-judge panel may be found here: http://goo.gl/uroyUl .

This case will be heard at 2PM Pacific time. Here is the video link:


Once again, I hope some of you will be able to watch the argument in order to help us test the system and give us feedback on the experience.

Some of you have asked whether you may pass this announcement on to friends and colleagues. By all means, do so. The more people watch, the better it will test our capacity.

Ciao. AK

So please, Above the Law readers, visit the video links provided above, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Pacific time (or 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time), and try to watch the streaming videos. You’ll be doing the Ninth Circuit a big favor. Thanx!

UPDATE (12/14/2013, 12:30 p.m.): Thanks to everyone who tuned in for the arguments; it was a great help to the court. Some folks have have asked why Judge Ronald M. Gould appears by video. The reason is that Judge Gould has multiple sclerosis and works from his home base in Seattle. To learn more about him and his remarkable legal career (which includes service as a Supreme Court law clerk), check out this excellent interview.

A Sixth Sense: 6th Circuit Has Surpassed the 9th as the Most Reversed Appeals Court [ABA Journal]
Appeals court hearings now going live and online [CNN]

Earlier: Liveblogging the Prop 8 Ninth Circuit Oral Arguments

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