Wednesday, December 02, 2020

U.S. v. Collazo (9th Cir. - Dec. 2, 2020)

Losing the lottery results in these five people getting their federal convictions affirmed.

It's a criminal case that gets taken en banc and that results in a starkly partisan split.  The Clinton and Obama appointees go one way and the Bush and Trump appointees go the other.

It's a 16-13 split in favor of the Democratic appointees right now amongst the active judges in the Ninth Circuit (with no vacancies), so it's more likely than not (around 55%) that a random draw of judges would result in an 11-person panel with a Democratic majority.  (It's actually slightly higher than that since Chief Judge Thomas is on every en banc panel.)

But these five defendants are on the losing side of the lottery.  They get six Republican appointees -- including all three remaining Bush appointees -- and only five Democratic appointees. 

And hence lose in a 6-5 opinion written by Judge Ikuta.

Sometimes being on the wrong side of the lottery only makes you down $2.  Sometimes the stakes are quite a bit higher.