United States Ninth Circuit

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Barnett v. Norman, 13-15234

In this excessive force action brought by plaintiff-prisoner, the district court's judgment in favor of defendant prison guards is reversed and remanded for a new trial, where: 1) the district court abused its discretion by disclaiming any authority to compel the prisoner-witnesses to answer plaintiff's questions; 2) when a "necessary and material" witness refuses to testify and no constitutional, statutory, or common-law rule bars the testimony, a judge must try to encourage the testimony or at least explain on the record why, in her discretion, she did nothing; 3) the magistrate judge abused her discretion as a matter of law when she permitted the prisoner-witnesses to opt out of testifying; and 4) the error was not harmless.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 03/31/2015
  • Published 03/31/2015


  • Owens


  • United States Ninth Circuit