The principal reason to read these opinions is because they contain a neat dialogue between Judge Reinhardt, on the one hand (with Judge Berzon concurring), and Judge Bybee in dissent. It's an ineffective assistance of counsel case, so it's quite fact-bound. But you definitely see the respective political positions of the authors play out. Simply put, Judge Reinhardt sees the world differently than does Judge Bybee. Anyone who thinks that judges don't bring their worldviews to the table when they decide cases should read this one and rethink their position.
At the en banc vote stage, the split continues. Six judges dissent from the denial: Judges Kleinfeld, Tallman, Callahan, Bybee, Bea and Randy Smith. Who, again, essentially advocate that the Supreme Court take this one up and slap down the Ninth.
The downsides of reading these opinions are twofold. First, they're extremely long. You're looking at 135 single-spaced pages. Second, and potentially related to the first, for some reason, the Ninth Circuit's web site is incredibly slow today. It took me five full minutes to download the thing. Crickey.
But it's the week after the Ninth Circuit judicial conference. Not much has been coming out lately, either on the federal or state side. So take your time. Read a leisurely opinion or two. Relax. That's what everyone else seems to be doing, so join the fun.