Monday, September 21, 2015

Jones v. County of Los Angeles (9th Cir. - Sept. 21, 2015)

Judge Murguia begins this opinion by saying:

"The Jones family—Jill, Michael, and their son G.J.—brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Dr. Claudia Wang violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and committed various torts during her investigation into whether G.J. had been abused."

Which led me to conclude, correctly, that the Jones family was going to win the appeal.  On the theory that you generally don't use the first names of the parties in the first sentence of the opinion unless you're going to find in their favor.  You'd instead depersonalize them and describe them by role.

It's a fact-bound dispute about whether there was a sufficient basis to suspect child abuse here.  Judge Murguia authors the majority opinion, joined by Judge Randy Smith.  Judge McNamee, sitting by designation from the Arizona district court, dissents.

It always takes more time to get an opinion out when there's a dissent.  But the Ninth Circuit case number here begins with a 12-.  And it took nearly a year and a half after oral argument to issue an opinion in this interlocutory appeal.  With respect, that's too long.

Now the case goes back for more pretrial events, and potentially a trial.

Or maybe the parties will settle.  Which they should.  Since it's by no means a slam dunk on either side.