9th Circuit Counts Dead Judge as Member of Majority Opinion (SCOTUS)
On 25 February 2019, the US Supreme Court issued an unsigned per curiam opinion in Yovino v. Rizo, 586 U. S. ____ (2019) reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where the Court listed Judge Reinhardt as the author of that en banc decision issued on 9 April 2018 despite the fact that the Judge had died 11 days earlier.
The ruling is yet another example of the US Supreme Court reversing decisions of the most liberal of all US Courts of Appeals. The case has now been remanded back to the 9th Circuit for further proceedings. However, in its short anonymous opinion, the US Supreme Court managed to summarise the absurdity of the situation in one short phrase:
‘Because Judge Reinhardt was no longer a judge at the time when the en banc decision in this case was filed, the Ninth Circuit erred in counting him as a member of the majority. That practice effectively allowed a deceased judge to exercise the judicial power of the United States after his death. But federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.‘