Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ninth Circuit The Day After Pi Day (9th Cir. - March 15, 2012)

There are some days in which you can't put lipstick on a pig.  Or, more accurately, you can, but it's still just bacon with a little red around the mouth.  Or, perhaps even more accurately, you can draw analogies, but that turkey just don't shoot.

Today's one of those days.

The Ninth Circuit publishes two opinions.  Here's what the first one's about:

"This case arises out of a dispute between two telecommunications carriers over their interconnection agreement (“ICA”1) under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Plaintiff-Appellant Western Radio Services Company (“Western”) is a commercial mobile radio service (“CMRS”) provider. Defendant-Appellee Qwest Corporation (“Qwest”) is a local exchange carrier (“LEC”). Western appeals two decisions of the district court: first, its decision dismissing Western’s claim against Qwest for Qwest’s alleged violation of its statutory duty to negotiate the ICA in good faith; and second, its decision affirming the orders of Defendant-Appellee the Oregon Public Utility Commission (“PUC”), which adopted the results of the arbitration leading to the ICA and approved the ICA."

You're kidding me!  Finally!  A dispute between a CMRS and an LEC regarding ICAs as interpreted by the PUC!  OMFG!  Let me at it!  I want to read all 35 nasty, sexy pages!  Especially the last page, in which the author includes an appendix in which he describes all the various abbreviations he's using in the opinion!  I'm about to DTMF in my pants!  Or at least Wink-Start MF!  (That's Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signaling, or Wink-Start Multi-Frequency signaling, for the uninitiated.  Depends on whether I can control my bladder.)

But at least there's a second opinion the same day, right?  Here's what that one's about:

"Two non-Indian entities brought this action to enjoin Navajo Nation tribal officials from applying tribal law to them intribal courts. They claim that both their contract with the tribe and federal law deprive tribal officials of authority to regulate them. This appeal presents the question whether the Navajo Nation itself — which enjoys sovereign immunity and cannot be sued — is a necessary (and if so, indispensable) party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19."

Look, I'm a Civil Procedure professor who really digs Indian law.  And even I somewhat snoozed through Judge Silverman's opinion.  I can only imagine how regular people must feel.

Don't worry, though.  I can cut to the chase.  Here are the answers to both questions.  Because I know your day will not be complete unless I satisfy your cravings on both issues.

"Regarding the challenge to the approval of the ICA, we conclude that the ICA’s provisions (1) requiring Western to interconnect with Qwest’s network via at least one point per Local Access and Transport Area (“LATA”); and (2) providing Western with the signaling systems of its choice only where such systems are available, do not violate the Act. However, we also conclude that the ICA, as approved, does violate the Act insofar as it applies access charges, rather than reciprocal compensation, to calls exchanged between a CMRS provider and a LEC, originating and terminating in the same LATA, when those calls are carried by an interexchange carrier (“IXC”)."

Yeah, that was my intuition when I read the first two paragraphs of the opinion also.  It's all about whether the LATA's connected to an IXC.

And the indispensible party issue?  Fear not.  "The tribe is not a necessary party because the tribal officials can be expected to adequately represent the tribe’s interests in this action and because complete relief can be accorded among the existing parties without the tribe," at least (as here) in an Ex Parte Young action.

Whew.  What a relief.

Now back to trying yet again to memorize the first 500 digits of pi.  An equally exciting task.  And one with roughly equivalent practical utility for the average reader.