Monday, March 21, 2016

U.S. v. Nickle (9th Cir. - March 21, 2016)

The Ninth Circuit not only reverses a conviction today, but reassigns the case to a different judge on remand.

It says it does so in order to preserve the appearance of justice.  And that's undoubtedly true.  In part.

But I think the real reason is because the panel is profoundly distressed that the district court judge -- Judge Haddon (in Montana) -- didn't let the defendant plead guilty, for reasons far afield from what judges may legitimately invoke.

Once you start doing crazy things, the Ninth Circuit starts to be worried that you may be crazy.  And thinks about reassigning the most egregious of your cases to a different judge.