Monday, February 22, 2016

Bennett v. Bank Melli (9th Cir. - Feb. 22, 2016)

I'm not sure I'm smart enough to figure this one out.

Judge Kozinski authors an opinion in August of 2015.  It's unanimous.  No biggie.

Fast forward to today.  There's now a revised opinion.  But it's no longer unanimous; now, the district judge sitting by designation files a concurrence.  And the majority opinion is by Judge Thomas.

Oh, yeah.  One more thing.  Judge Thomas wasn't on the original panel.  Judge Kozinski's now off the panel, and Judge Thomas was drawn to replace him.


One might perhaps easily explain the concurrence.  Maybe there was a change of heart after the losing party filed a petition for rehearing.  Maybe Judge Thomas edited the opinion in a way that the district judge didn't like.  Lots of things can happen.  Rare.  But, still, they happen.

Why Judge Kozinski left the panel is even harder to explain.  Presumably he recused himself.  But I don't see why offhand.  He didn't recuse himself initially.  What changed?  Moreover, it's not like the subject matter is something that Judge Kozinski would likely be personally interested in.  It involves unsatisfied claims against Iran.  Now, maybe Judge Kozinki has a personal interest in that -- one that arose all of the sudden.  But I doubt it.  Seems weird.

Not that it's a huge issue.  The case comes out the same way.  The victims here are going to get some fraction of their judgments against Iran.  I'm far from bummed about that.

But strange.  Very strange.