Jewel v. National Security Agency

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-18-2015
  • Case #: 15-16133
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judges Hawkins and Graber
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedue Rule 54(b), when an action presents more than one claim for relief, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.

Carolyn Jewel, along with other plaintiffs, filed a complaint against the United States National Security Agency (NSA) concerning Internet and cell phone surveillance after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The complaint includes allegations of continued warrantless surveillance within the United States under a secret presidential order. This surveillance was part of an “Upstream” collection process that collects specific telephone numbers or email addresses in order to capture domestic communications. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed whether they had jurisdiction over the case at all. There is jurisdiction to hear an appeal if it arises from a final order. An order granting partial summary judgment is not an appealable final order under 28 U.S.C §1291. Under FRCP Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 54(b), there is an exception to directing entry of a final judgment when there is more than one claim of action or multiple parties involved, and only if the court determines there is no just reason for delay. The panel dismissed the appeal for no jurisdiction because it did not meet the requirements of FRCP 54(b). The panel held that FRCP 54(b) was not warranted because the question of surveillance of the plaintiff’s internet connections violating the Fourth Amendment was entwined with other issues, and the appeal would only prolong final resolution of the case. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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