Split 9th Circuit Rulings Replaced to Little Effect

     (CN) – The dispute over the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” may yet receive a full-court rehearing, but the retrial order for a gang-related murder in California will not, the 9th Circuit said Friday.
     The federal appeals court in San Francisco withdrew two recent, divided rulings and replaced them with amended or superseding opinions that made only minor changes.
     One of the opinions involves the order for Google to remove all copies of “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube, finding that actress Cindy Lee Garcia had been tricked into appearing in the anti-Islamic video and may have a copyright interest in her performance.
     A 9th Circuit judge had called to rehear the case before an 11-judge, en banc panel, but the federal appeals court noted Friday that the decision is still pending. In the meantime the court amended its February opinion and dissent, but kept the gist of the ruling in tact.
     Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the amended ruling that amici curiae have raised issues since publication of the initial opinion, “such as the applicability of the fair use doctrine, of the Communications Decency Act.”
     “Because these defenses were not raised by the parties, we do not address them,” Kozinski wrote. “The District Court is free to consider them if Google properly raises them.”
     Amici in the case include a host of entertainment- and film-industry groups, including Netflix, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the International Documentary Association and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.
     The second decision that the appellate court withdrew and replaced on Friday involves a habeas case related to the 1997 gang-related murder of high school student Corrie Williams.
     A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 in late 2013 to grant convicted murderer Randall Amado a new trial on those charges, finding that the state had withheld evidence that could have contradicted a key witness’s testimony.
     California Attorney General Kamala Harris had argued in a petition for rehearing that the panel ruling contravened Supreme Court precedent and violated the deference due to state courts under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
     The appellate court disagreed and denied the petition on Friday. The court also withdrew the 2013 opinion and dissent, and replaced it with a superseding opinion that came to the same conclusion as the prior ruling.

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