Judge J.L. Edmondson: Lying and Usurping Power is Not Misconduct!

February 3, 2010

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, The “Teflon Don

Purpose of this Post

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. The overall scheme of all methods (direct appeal, mandamus, lawsuit, misconduct complaints) of disciplining federal judges have been undermined and defeated by Judge Graham’s cohorts at the Eleventh Circuit, see http://mmason.freeshell.org/methods.htm. States have removed judges from office for the conduct that is listed in this post and elsewhere. This post will examine the perfect scam that Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson has used to defeat claims of judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. § 351, et.seq. The perfect scam is a “negative definition” of judicial misconduct. A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.” http://academic.csuohio.edu/polen/LC9_Help/2/25negative.htm. Judge Edmondson does not define misconduct he simply disagrees with every act that alleges misconduct in the complaint is judicial misconduct. Consequently, a negative definition is used to define judicial misconduct out of existence. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson’s definition, or lack thereof, would suggest that federal judges are held to a lower standard than state court judges. Congress does not help as it chosen not to identify specific acts that it considers to be judicial misconduct for it has abrogated this responsibility and left it up to judges like Judge Edmondson to decide.

In this complaint, Mr. Mason’s  15th regarding Judge Graham, he once again  complains  that Judge Graham  has  intentionally  lied, misrepresented  the law, refused  to rule on a motion  for a preliminary  injunction,  allowed scores of other motions to go undecided and has usurped his  legal authority while presiding  over his civil cases.”  See Complaint No. 110890063, http://mmason.freeshell.org/372c/110890063/110890063.pdf.

Conspicuous by its absence is the lack of a denial by Judge Edmondson.  Not even a pattern and practice of abusive behavior by Judge Graham constitutes misconduct according to Judge Edmondson. See No.
01-0054
; No.
01-0054-Judicial Council
; No.
01-0068
; No.
01-68-Judicial Counci
l; INTERVENING
MANDAMUS
; No.
02-0006
; No.
02-0006 -Judicial Council
; No.
02-0029
; No.
02-0034
; No.
02-0052
; No.
02-0059
; COMPLAINTS
FILED IN 2005
; No.
05-0008
; No.
05-0011
; No.
05-0012
; No.
05-0013
; No.
05-0020
; No.
05-0021

The Committee On Judicial Conduct And Disability disagrees and has stated:

[A] judge’s
pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing
legal standards and thereby causing expense and delay to litigants may be
misconduct. However, the characterization of such behavior as misconduct is
fraught with dangers to judicial independence. Therefore, a cognizable misconduct
complaint based on allegations of a judge not following prevailing law or the
directions of a court of appeals in particular cases must identify clear and
convincing evidence of willfulness, that is, clear and convincing evidence of a
judge’s arbitrary and intentional departure from prevailing law based on his or
her disagreement with, or willful indifference to, that law.

See Memorandum of Decision, Page 8, lines 6-17 , http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/misconduct/orders/committee_memorandum_89020.pdf
or http://mmason.freeshell.org/372c/committee_memorandum_89020.pdf
.

Open Letter to Judge Joel F. Dubina To Investigate Judge Donald L. Graham

December 22, 2009

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, The “Teflon Don

Purpose of this Post

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. The overall scheme of all methods (direct appeal, mandamus, lawsuit, misconduct complaints) of disciplining federal judges have been undermined and defeated by Judge Graham’s cohorts at the Eleventh Circuit, see http://mmason.freeshell.org/methods.htm.  This post posts a letter that was sent to now Chief Judge Joel F. Dubina, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal.


Open Letter To Judge Joel F. Dubina

December 22, 2009

United States Court Of Appeals

Attn:  Ed McElhenney

Eleventh Circuit

56 Forsyth Street, N.W.

Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Hon. Joel F. Dubina

This letter is posted to the Internet at: https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/open-letter-to-judge-joel-f-dubina-to-investigate-judge-donald-l-graham. This Court or rather Judge J.L. Edmondson received several complaints of judicial misconduct in 2008 leveled against U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham.:

  1. Complaint dated June 25, 2008.
  2. Complaint dated July 9, 2008.
  3. Complaint dated July 15, 2008.
  4. Complaint dated July 30, 2008.
  5. A Request For Reconsideration of Prior Complaints.

I have received absolutely no communication regarding these complaints that were filed 2008.  What is the status of these complaints?  Have they been docketed?  Have they been investigated and disposed of?  I would appreciate it if you would provide me with the status of these complaints.   If these complaints need to be re-filed because you don’t have copies of them, please let me know.  These complaints document very specific allegations of misconduct such as lying and routinely disregarding clearly established law whenever Judge Graham feels like it.

Judge Edmondson has had a string of misconduct complaints leveled at Judge Graham where he did absolutely nothing.  See  No. 01-0054; No. 01-0054-Judicial Council; No. 01-0068; No. 01-68-Judicial Council; INTERVENING MANDAMUS; No. 02-0006; No. 02-0006 -Judicial Council; No. 02-0029; No. 02-0034; No. 02-0052; No. 02-0059; COMPLAINTS FILED IN 2005; No. 05-0008; No. 05-0011; No. 05-0012; No. 05-0013; No. 05-0020; No. 05-0021

What I want is fairly simple.  Firstly, I want the very specific allegations of misconduct that I have enumerated to be stated as either true or false in any ‘investigation” of my complaints.  Secondly, the very specific allegations that I have listed does or does not constitute judicial misconduct.   Judge Edmondson’s tactic was to erect a straw man and then attack the straw man.  Judge Edmondson characterized my allegations of misconduct in such a manner as to achieve his own nefarious ends and pre-determined outcome.  What the complaints are designed to do is to force the Judicial Council to state in writing what is and is not judicial misconduct.  Judge Edmondson and others has become the master of the negative definition.  A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.”  See https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/chief-circuit-judge-jl-edmondson-uses-perfect-scam-of-negative-defintion-to-defeat-complaints-of-misconduct-under-the-judicial-misconduct-and-disability-act/ for  illustrations of how this tactic is used.  The negative definition serves the interest of the fraternity of federal judges quite well, but it does not serve the interest of the American public.  Almost all state jurisdictions have positive definitions of judicial misconduct.

The Eleventh Circuit’s website covering complaints of judicial misconduct states:  “The law says that complaints about judges’ decisions and complaints with no evidence to support them must be dismissed. If you are a litigant in a case and believe the judge made a wrong decision—even a very wrong decision—you may not use this procedure to complain about the decision.”  To that extent that the above statement suggests that a federal judge’s “very wrong” decisions  can never be the subject of a complaint of judicial misconduct, the statement is at variance with the authority on such matters.   The statement and your predecessor, Judge . J.L. Edmondson’s behavior suggests that a federal judge may continually disregard clearly established law with impunity because such behavior can never be the subject of misconduct.  The Committee On Judicial Conduct And Disability disagrees and has stated:

[A] judge’s pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing legal standards and thereby causing expense and delay to litigants may be misconduct. However, the characterization of such behavior as misconduct is fraught with dangers to judicial independence. Therefore, a cognizable misconduct complaint based on allegations of a judge not following prevailing law or the directions of a court of appeals in particular cases must identify clear and convincing evidence of willfulness, that is, clear and convincing evidence of a judge’s arbitrary and intentional departure from prevailing law based on his or her disagreement with, or willful indifference to, that law.

See Memorandum of Decision, Page 8, lines 6-17 , http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/misconduct/orders/committee_memorandum_89020.pdf or http://mmason.freeshell.org/372c/committee_memorandum_89020.pdf .

If Judge Edmondson’s and your website’s definition of judicial misconduct were to prevail, then a possible criminal act committed by Judge Graham should legally escape the judicial misconduct statutes.  On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham concocted a pre-filing injunction sua sponte.   This order specifically states: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” (D.E. #878, pg. 3😉, http://mmason.freeshell.org/DE-878/de878.pdf .  Sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions are routinely rejected as violative of due process.  See mmason.freeshell.org/RejectSuaSponte.htm .   Not only did Judge Graham disregard clearly established law, he also intentionally misrepresented the amount of lawsuits that I filed so that he could justify the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction so that an unsuspecting public would not know the truth.  See https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/judge-graham-missates-material-facts-and-law-to-support-pre-filing-injunction/ .  The Eleventh Circuit has set a Guiness world record for refusing to review this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction for validity.   See http://mmason.freeshell.org/blog/sets_sets_guiness_world_record.htm or  Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction at https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/eleventh-circuit-us-court-of-appeals-sets-guiness-world-record-for-refusing-to-review-sua-sponte-issued-pre-filing-injunction/ .  This sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that the Eleventh Circuit has refused to review for validity has cost me: (1)41 days in jail for violation of an illegal order; (2)a criminal contempt conviction; (3) three years of probation.  The only reason I am off probation is because U.S.  Judge K. Michael could not stomach the injustice any longer and dropped the last two years of probation.  (4)Precluded me from working in my chosen employment by prohibiting me from using the Internet, a necessary condition for a Network Administrator, MCSE and CNE; (5)A lawsuit was dismissed, Case No.. 01-13664-A, based upon this illegal sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction.  What is really repulsive and repugnant to the rule of law and the concept of honesty is that the Eleventh Circuit struck my brief for arguing against this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction in Case No.. 01-13664-A because they claimed it was beyond the scope of appeal; but when the Eleventh Circuit rendered an opinion it then used the very same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction against me.  See Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal, https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/putrid-dishonestybeyond-the-scope-of-appeal/ . Is the Eleventh Circuit saying that it is not judicial misconduct to intentionally concoct an illegal order and use that illegal order to put a man in jail for 41 days?  See
https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/eleventh-circuit-sits-idly-by-while-a-clearly-void-sua-sponte-issued-pre-filing-injunction-wreaks-havoc-on-a-mans-life/.

Using the appellate process to remedy judicial misconduct amounts to nothing more than an illusory remedy as Judge Edmondson and some of his colleagues routinely undermine the appellate process.  The major problem with this tactic is that the court is free to ignore complaints of misconduct in the appellate process by simply not addressing them and then burying the fact in an unpublished opinion that is never released to the Internet.  A scathing attack of  U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham was launched in a direct appeal in Case No. 01-13664-A, the opinion makes no mention of the allegations, much less their veracity. The sum total of the appellate review consisted of the following:  “Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters, e.g., …, the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges,…”  See Case No. 01-13664-A, Opinion, pg. 10, http://mmason.freeshell.org/01-13664/OrderAffirmingTrialCourt/Opinion.pdf.   Similarly, a petition for mandamus, Case No. 01-15754, was submitted on or about October 2, 2001. This petition accused Judge Graham of misconduct. Your colleagues simply ignored the allegations of misconduct by stating only the following in a terse one sentence unpublished “opinion” :The ” petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.” See mmason.freeshell.org/15754/mandamus_denied.pdf . For a full discussion of every dishonest tactic that the Eleventh Circuit used to undermine an appeal right see, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell, https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/eleventh-circuit-case-no-01-13664-the-appeal-from-hell/

It is time to hold Judge Graham accountable for his actions.   I derisively refer to Judge Graham as “Teflon Don” because nothing seems to stick to him.  This court has mounted a gargantuan effort to conceal the behavior Judge Graham from public scrutiny.  This effort has failed because I have dedicated multiple websites to exposing Judge Graham’s behavior.   The question is not if Judge Graham is going to be held accountable for his behavior, but how much damage is concealing Judge Graham’s behavior and not disciplining him going to tarnish the Eleventh Circuit and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  Judge Graham is selfish in that he is putting his colleagues in a dilemma. The attacks on Judge Graham’s record and misbehavior will be relentless.  I can’t be bullied by the likes of Judge Graham and his ilk.  Let’s put this matter to bed and conduct a proper investigation of the complaints that I have filed against Judge Graham.  If Judge’s Graham’s behavior does not constitute a “pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing legal standards” then there is no such thing!

Sincerely,

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr.

214 Atterberry Drive

Sebring, FL 33870

Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal

May 24, 2009

This page is part of an expose on U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham and the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals.
Judge Donald L. Graham
Judge Donald L. Graham

Think of the most dishonest act you can imagine or have witnessed ! This act of dishonesty will pale in the order of 10100 power when compared to the dishonesty of certain federal judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals.

Judges whose personal integrity are involved in this dishonest act are: Judge Susan H. Black, Order To Strike (Appellant), Judge Frank M. Hull, (Appellee Order to Strike); Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Judge Susan H. Black, and Judge Stanley Marcus wrote the Opinion in this matter, Case No. 01-13664.

The Act of Putrid Dishonesty

The Eleventh Circuit struck Marcellus Mason’s appellate brief for arguing against an order, a void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, and then turned around and used the very same stricken sua sponte issued pre-filing to support their Opinion against Marcellus M. Mason. For the layman, the term “beyond the scope of appeal” means that issue is not to be considered on the pending appeal or the appeal in question. The Eleventh Circuit did the chronologically impossible in that they used an order rendered on September 20, 2001 to justify the dismissal of a case closed three months earlier on June 20, 2001. Our legal system simply can not stand this type of dishonesty.

Beyond the Scope of Appeal: A Despicable and Egregious Act

Dist. Ct. Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664-A, Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Judge Susan H. Black, and Judge Stanley Marcus

The case was closed on June 20, 2001 and, a Notice of Appeal was promptly filed on June 25, 2001. (Docket Entry795).

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham issues a pre-filing injunction, sua sponte.
See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878). It is well settled that a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is void due to the requirement of due process or notice and opportunity to respond prior to issuance. See Case Law on Sua Sponte Injunctions.

On March 6, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit and Judge Susan H. Black struck Mason’s brief for arguing against the September 20, 2001 sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit ordered Mason to file all new initial briefs less any mention of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. The Eleventh Circuit claimed the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction was “beyond the scope of appeal”. See Order Striking Appellant’s Brief. This new filing caused Mason to have pay for 7 new briefs of about 45 pages.

On March 25, 2002, 19 days after the Eleventh Circuit, struck Mason’s brief for arguing against the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, Highlands County argued for the same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction in their Answer Brief on pages 18 and 19. However, the Eleventh Circuit, while granting Mason’s motion to strike Highlands County brief for arguing for the same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, did not make Highlands County file all new answer briefs as they had done to Mason. The Eleventh Circuit claimed that it would not consider the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction in its decision. See OrderStriking Appellees’ Brief

Appellant’s motion to strike Appellees’ brief is GRANTED IN PART to the extent that Appellees cite to the District Court’s September 2001, Omnibus Order, as that order is outside the scope of this appeal. This Court will disregard any references in Appellees’ brief to matters outside the scope of this appeal.

As stated above, in its opinion of October 16, 2002,
Case No. 01-13664
, pgs. 13-14, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

Moreover, despite the closure of the case by the district court, Mason’s continual filing of motions with the court addressing matters previously settled prompted the district court to prohibit Mason from further filings without explicit permission and initiate criminal contempt proceedings. Therefore, the record supports the district court’s implicit finding that a sanction less than dismissal of the action with prejudice would have had no effect.

It is outrageous that the Eleventh Circuit would use the same sua sponte pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 that it struck Mason’s brief for arguing in order to make a finding to support a Rule 41(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. dismissal. See “Opinion, pgs. 13, 14, Implicit finding Beyond the Scope.” .

Background

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and individual government employees in February 1999. This case was ultimately assigned Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed, not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. “R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E791). See Banned Communications.

In June and July 2000, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, Allen,Norton & Blue asked the Magistrate to grant them preliminary injunctions that required Mason to contact them before he could talk to the government defendants. These orders required Mason, a nonlawyer, living in Sebring, FL to contact private attorneys some 90 miles away in Tampa, FL .

These orders were granted on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000 in part stated:

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.” (DE#201).

This order is dated June 19, 2000.

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” (DE #246)

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants,
regarding any matter related to this case. (DE #246)

This order is dated July 25, 2000.

Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of the injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law.” See Docket Entry No. 407. However, Congress and the law disagree as the law expressly states that:

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary—
a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,”

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).


Links

Web Portal to Dishonest Acts by the Eleventh Circuit:
http://mmason.freeshell.org/methods.htm

Same Facts, Judge Wilbur D. Owens Reversed, Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed

October 30, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Point of This Post

The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal,  effectively affirmed or upheld U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, Southern District of Florida,  on appeal for the exact same set of facts that his colleague, Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., Middle District of  Georgia, was reversed for on appeal. In their individual cases, both Judge Graham and Judge Owens used their inherent power to make a finding of “bad faith”; however, Judge Owens was reversed on appeal for failing to afford the sanctioned party due process while Judge Graham committed the exact same error but was not reversed.  In fact, the Eleventh Circuit has refused to address the validity of the order making the “bad faith” finding in what has to be a Guinness world record number of times.  Incidentally, the Eleventh Circuit has a long history of affirming Judge Graham on appeal while reversing his colleagues for the exact same set of facts. For example, see the following posts:

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Graham is clearly favored over his colleagues  in the Eleventh Circuit.  Incidentally, Judge Owens was sent a fax informing his of post and all his law clerks have received emails regarding this matter.

Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens, Jr.

Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Case No. 04-00080-CV-WDO-5 was reversed for using his inherent power to make a bad faith finding without affording a litigant due process.  In Adkins v. Christie, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 8322,*;227 Fed. Appx. 804 (11th Cir. 2007), the Eleventh Circuit stated:

[A] federal court possesses the inherent power to impose sanctions. Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43, 111 S. Ct. 2123, 2132, 115 L. Ed. 2d 27 (1991). However, the court must afford the sanctioned party due process, “both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees.” In re Mroz, 65 F.3d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1995). Due process mandates that an attorney be given fair notice that his conduct may warrant sanctions and the reasons why. Donaldson v. Clark, 819 F.2d 1551, 1559-60 (11th Cir. 1987). In addition, the attorney must be given a chance to respond to the allegations and justify his or her actions. In re Mroz, 65 F.3d at 1575-76. We find that the requirements of due process were not satisfied in this case.

Similarly, in In Re: Sunshine Jr. Stores, Inc. v. Sunshine-Jr. Stores, Inc.,456 F.3d 1291(11th Cir. 2006), the court held:

Courts must afford a sanctioned party due process, both in determining the bad faith required to invoke the court’s inherent power to impose sanctions and in assessing fees. In re Mroz, 65 F.3d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1995) [*35]  (citing Chambers, 501 U.S. at 49, 111 S. Ct. at 2135). “Due process requires that the [party] be given fair notice that [its] conduct may warrant sanctions and the reasons why.” Id. (citing Donaldson v. Clark, 819 F.2d 1551, 1559-60 (11th Cir. 1987)).

Judge Donald L. Graham

U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, who like Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., above,  used his inherent power to make a bad faith finding without affording the litigant due process, but was not reversed on appeal unlike Judge Owens.  As a matter of fact, the Eleventh Circuit has refused to review the order making the finding of bad faith for validity on multiple occasions.

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham issued a pre-filing injunction against Marcellus Mason sua sponte. (D.E. #878). Courts routinely reject sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions without batting an eye.  See http://mmason.freeshell.org/RejectSuaSponte.htm.  This order specifically states: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” (D.E. #878, pg. 3😉.  Incidentally, when Judge Graham rendered this order on September 20, 2001, the case was closed and had been noticed for appeal and assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664 since June 25, 2001.  See Notice of Appeal, (D.E. #795).

In this same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction Judge Graham makes a so-called “finding of bad faith“. “It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith.. Such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court.” (D.E. #878, pg. 5, 6, “Bad Faith” section).

Judge Graham then took this so-called finding of bad-faith and then used it to award attorney’s fees of $200,000 against Marcellus Mason even though neither he nor the Eleventh Circuit ever gave Mason the opportunity to oppose the order.  A Report and Recommendation, “R&R”, was issued and stated:

Judge Graham’s order of September 20, 2001, also makes a specific finding of bad faith . Judge Graham stated, “It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith.


See “R&R”,
(D.E. #882, pgs. 3).

Judge Graham stated that such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court. Even though bad faith is not a prerequisite to an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing defendant, if the plaintiff is found to have brought such a civil rights action or to have continued such an action in bad faith, there will be an even stronger basis for charging him with attorney’s fees incurred by the defense. Here, it is clear that based upon Judge Graham’s previous findings of bad faith,…

See “R&R”, (D.E. #882, pgs. 3).

Judge Graham accepted this R&R.  See (D.E. 891)(“Defendants are awarded the sum of $200,000.00 as reasonable attorney’s fees in this case.”).

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Judge Graham’s Abusive and Unlawful Behavior

In Case No. 01-15754, a Petition for Mandamus, pps. 15-18, was filed on October 1, 2001, or eleven days after the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 that made a finding of bad faith was rendered. See receipt.  On December 5, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit refused to review the September 20, 2001 order and bad faith finding for validity and in a terse one sentence opinion stated:

The ‘petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition’ is DENIED.

See Order Denying Mandamus.

Mason then sought to have the order of September 20, 2001 that made the “bad faith” finding reviewed for validity in the pending direct appeal, Case No.  01-13364.  However, in a really despicable and dishonest act, the Eleventh Circuit struck Mason’s brief for arguing against the validity of the order of September 20, 2001 because the Eleventh Circuit claimed the order was beyond the scope of appeal.  Notwithstanding this fact, the Eleventh Circuit then turned around and used this order to affirm Judge Graham in the very same appeal, Case No. 01-13664.   See “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal ” for proof of this pernicious and blatantly dishonest act.  The story gets even more incredulous because Mason subsequently made a multiplicity of attempts to get the September 20, 2001 order reviewed for validity; however, the Eleventh Circuit used ingenuity and trickery that would make the shister lawyer proud in order to avoid reviewing this order for validity.  See Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction.

Judge Graham then escalated the matter by using this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction to form the basis of a criminal contempt complaint. See
Eleventh Circuit Sits Idly By While A Clearly Void Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction Wreaks Havoc On A Man’s Life.

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT COMPLAINTS FILED AGAINST U.S. JUDGE DONALD L. GRAHAM

Judge Graham has engaged in reckless, lawless, and vindictive behavior, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting law.  See Core Allegations.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction that
    had been pending for more than 17 months.  See Core Allegations.
  • Allowing scores of motions and filings to languish without being
    decided.  See Languishing Motions.
  • Usurping legal authority. Allowing a Magistrate to issue an injunction prohibiting direct communication with the Highlands County Government.  Additionally, prohibiting  Marcellus Mason from making public records request under Florida Law directly to Highlands County.  See Usurp,
    Usurp2
    , and Usurp3.
  • Violating clearly established law and the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court by issuing pre-filing injunctions without notice and opportunity to be heard.  See Pre-filing Injunction.
  • Abuse of the criminal contempt procedure.  Judge Graham took a clearly invalid sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and made it the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.  See Framed.
  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting material facts. See Intentionally Misstating Facts.
  • Ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court denying access to the courts by refusing to state any reason for denying IFP applications.  See IFP Denials.
  • Awarding attorneys’ fees of $200,000 against an indigent plaintiff in total
    disregard of the law and the United States Supreme Court.  Massive Attorney’s Fees Award.

Judge Graham has a host of judicial misconduct filed against him. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson’s has dismissed most of these complaints by simply defining judicial misconduct out of existence. State court judges have been removed for less reasons than the conduct committed by Judge Graham. Read the following complaints and Judge Edmondson’s reply and form your own judgment. The following complaints have been lodged against Teflon Don, or U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham.

Pending Judicial Misconduct Complaints

Complaint Status

Judicial Conference
pending

Reconsideration
pending

June 25, 2008
pending

July 9, 2008
pending

July 15, 2008
pending

It has been said that the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability,
has become quite serious in investigating federal judges for misconduct. According to law.com,Binding National Rules Adopted for Handling Judicial Misconduct Complaints, in March of this year, the Judicial Conference adopted the first-ever binding nationwide procedures for handling complaints of judicial misconduct. U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham has escaped discipline for his abusive and possible criminal behavior.  As a result of this, Mason submitted complaints to both the Judicial Conference and Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal again.  These complaints are governed by 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364, “The Judicial Improvements Act of 2002” formerly “The Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act“. Previously, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, had been misconstruing the statute and summarily dismissing complaints of misconduct by simply regurgitating the statutory language at 28 U.S.C. § 352 which allows him dismiss complaints that are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling“.  Judge Edmondson is alone in his view that legal error and judicial misconduct are mutually exclusive.  For more discussion on “legal error” and judicial misconduct, see article
Chief Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson Uses Perfect Scam of Negative Definition To Defeat Complaints of Misconduct Under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act
.

In Forma Pauperis Statute Abused To Conceal Acts Of Judicial Misconduct Committed By U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham

October 19, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Purpose Of In Forma Pauperis Statutes

The federal in forma pauperis statute, enacted in 1892 and presently codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is designed to ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the federal courts.  (internal citations omitted). Toward this end, § 1915(a) allows a litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal court in forma pauperis by filing in good faith an affidavit stating, inter alia, that he is unable to pay the costs of the lawsuit. Congress recognized, however, that a litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits.”  Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U. S. 319, 324 (1989).  U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, the subject of this post, has a long and documented history or pattern and practice of arbitrary denials of in forma pauperis motions.  See http://mmason.freeshell.org/ifp.html.  A complaint of judicial misconduct was filed against Judge Graham for abitrarily denying ifp motions on 18 different occasions without offering either of the legal reasons allowed for denying in forma pauperis status. See Neitzke, at 490 U.S. 324(“§ 1915(d) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis ‘if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.“) However, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, who is charged with with “investigating” allegations of misconduct does not agree that a pattern and practice of intentionally disregarding the law is judicial misconduct.  In Judicial Misconduct Complaint No. 05-0020, Judge Edmondson stated:

In this complaint Mr. Mason, although worded differently that his previous complaints, re-makes the allegation that Judge Graham denied him access to the courts by summarily denying a string of motions for in forma pauper status and that Judge Graham did not identify either of the only two reasons allowed for such denial.

The allegations of this Complaint are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling” and “successive”. Therefore, pursuant to Chapter 16 of Title 28 U.S.C. § 352(b)(I)(ii) and Addendum III Rules 4(b)(2) and 18(e), this Complaint is DISMISSED.

Judge Edmondson disagrees with his own Judicial Conference whose guidance he is obligated to follow who has clearly stated:

[A] judge’s pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing legal standards and thereby causing expense and delay to litigants may be misconduct. However, the characterization of such behavior as misconduct is fraught with dangers to judicial independence. Therefore, a cognizable misconduct complaint based on allegations of a judge not following prevailing law or the directions of a court of appeals in particular cases must identify clear and convincing evidence of willfulness, that is, clear and convincing evidence of a judge’s arbitrary and intentional departure from prevailing law based on his or her disagreement with, or willful indifference to, that law.

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Judicial Conference, Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, See http://www.uscourts.gov/library/judicialmisconduct/jcdopinions108.pdf
.

Introduction

Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, abused the in forma pauperis to stop an appeal, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664, from going forward.  Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664, an unpublished opinion, has been dubbed the “appeal from hell” for its lawlessness, dishonesty, and ingenuity in attempting to defeat an appeal.  This remarkable story, “Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell“,  is fully documented at:
https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/eleventh-circuit-case-no-01-13664-the-appeal-from-hell/
.  This particular post documents how U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham and the Eleventh Circuit abused the in forma pauperis statutes, 28 U.S.C. §1915, in order to deny appellate review of allegations of misconduct against Judge Graham.  These allegations included, but definitely are not limited to, the following:

  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction that had been pending for more than 17 months.
  • Allowing scores of motions and filings to languish without being decided.
  • Usurping legal authority. Allowing a Magistrate to issue an injunction prohibiting direct communication with the Highlands County Government.  Additionally, prohibiting  Marcellus Mason from making public records request under Florida Law directly to Highlands County.
  • Violating clearly established law and the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court by issuing pre-filing injunctions without notice and opportunity to be heard.
  • Abuse of the criminal contempt procedure.  Judge Graham took a clearly invalid sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and made it the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.
  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting material facts.
  • Ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court denying access to the courts by refusing to state any reason for denying IFP applications.
  • Awarding attorneys’ fees against an indigent plaintiff in total
    disregard of the law and the United States Supreme Court.

This post is part of an overall pattern and practice of using extreme measures and lawlessness to conceal the misconduct of Judge Graham.  See Documented Allegations of Misconduct.  Incidentally, while not relevant to the discussion of this post, the Eleventh Circuit’s Chief Judge, J.L. Edmondson, has fought tooth and nail to keep from addressing a documented pattern and practice of disregarding well established law by Judge Graham.  See mmason.freeshell.org/372c or mmason.freeshell.org/edmondson/edmondson.  Judge Graham’s misconduct and Judge’s Edmondson’s defense of Judge Graham’s misconduct are fully documented in the following judicial misconduct complaints:

No. 01-0054No. 01-0054-Judicial Council; No. 01-0068; No. 01-68-Judicial Council; INTERVENING MANDAMUS; No. 02-0006; No. 02-0006 -Judicial Council; No. 02-0029; No. 02-0034; No. 02-0052; No. 02-0059; COMPLAINTS FILED IN 2005; No. 05-0008; No. 05-0011; No. 05-0012; No. 05-0013; No. 05-0020; No. 05-0021.

The following complaints of judicial misconduct are currently pending against Judge Graham:

Complaint Status

Judicial Conference
pending

Reconsideration
pending

June 25, 2008
pending

July 9, 2008
pending

July 15, 2008
pending

Material Facts

On February 22, 1999, Judge Edward B. Davis allowed Marcellus Mason to file a lawsuit without paying the filing fees, or in forma pauperis, “IFP”, due to indigency.  See Order, (D.E. #3)(“Having examined the Plaintiff’s Motion and Financial Affidavit, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has demonstrated his inability to pay fees or give security in this matter, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court also finds that Plaintiff appears to have brought this action in good faith.;”).  Judge Davis retired and the case was assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham.  The case was ultimately dismissed on June 20, 2001.

The case was dismissed on June 20, 2001. (D.E. 791).

A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001. (D.E. 795)

The case was assigned Case No. 01-13664 by the Eleventh Circuit.

A motion to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis was filed on July 13, 2001. (D.E. #799).  A second motion to proceed in forma pauperis was filed on August 10, 2001.  (D.E. #811).

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. denied both pending motions [(D.E. #799), (D.E. #811)] to proceed in forma pauperis(D.E. #877).   This order states:

THIS CAUSE having come on to be heard upon an Order of Reference from the Honorable Donald L. Graham, dated September 10, 2001, and this Court having reviewed the aforementioned Motions and the pertinent portions of the record, and noting that in other actions filed by Plaintiff, Judge Graham has denied Plaintiff’ s motions to proceed in forma pauperis (Case Nos. 00-14116, 00-14201 , 00-14202, 00-14240), and further noting that this Court has compared Plaintiff’s previously filed IFP motions and accompanying affidavits with the instant motion and affidavit and has found no relevant difference, and being otherwise advised in the premises , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis are DENIED .

See (D.E. #877).

On December 12, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit denied an in forma pauperis motion by simply asserting:

Appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED because appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.  See Moreland v. Wharton, 899 F.2d 1168, 1170 (11th Cir. 1990) (holding that right to proceed IFP is not absolute, but rather is left to the sound discretion of the court.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 1.

Imagine how you would feel if someone accused you of something and refused to provide facts to support their allegation! This is anti-American.  Upon receiving the order denying IFP, the appellant, Mason filed a motion for clarification begging the Eleventh Circuit for the factual basis for its assertion that “appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.”  However, the Eleventh Circuit refused to provide facts to support its conclusion and simply stated:

Appellant has filed a “motion for reconsideration and clarification,” which is construed as a motion for reconsideration of this Court’s order dated December 12, 2001, denying leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis. Upon reconsideration, appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 2.

Prior Approval

As stated above, Mason was allowed initially allowed to proceed in forma pauperis by Judge Edward Davis.  See Order, (D.E. #3).  It is well established that once a party has been allowed to proceeded in forma pauperis in the district court, the party is allowed to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis automatically unless the district judge finds that the party is proceeding in bad faith.   In Starks v. State Of Florida, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 26270 (11th Cir. 2007), the Eleventh Circuit, Judges J.L. Edmondson, R. Lanier Anderson, and Rosemary Barkett, presiding, granted in forma pauperis on appeal where the district court found that the underlying complaint or lawsuit was frivolous.   Fed.R.App.P. Rule 24(a) states:

Rule 24. Proceeding in Forma Pauperis

(a) Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.

(3) Prior Approval. A party who was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in the district-court action, or who was determined to be financially unable to obtain an adequate defense in a criminal case, may proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization, unless the district court–before or after the notice of appeal is filed–certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith or finds that the party is not otherwise entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. In that event, the district court must state in writing its reasons for the certification or finding.

The Notes to Fed.R.App.P. Rule 24(a) state:

NOTES OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON RULES–1967:

“The second paragraph permits one whose indigency has been previously determined by the district court to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without the necessity of a redetermination of indigency, while reserving to the district court its statutory authority to certify that the appeal is not taken in good faith, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), and permitting an inquiry into whether the circumstances of the party who was originally entitled to proceed in forma pauperis have changed during the course of the litigation. Cf. Sixth Circuit
Rule 26.”   

A string of appellate courts have parroted the provisions of Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

  • “Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which governs our own in forma pauperis practice, permits any litigant who has been allowed to proceed in an action in the District Court in forma pauperis to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization, unless the District Court certifies that the ‘appeal is not taken in good faith or shall find that the party is otherwise not entitled so to proceed” McKelton v. Bruno , 428 F.2d 718; 138 U.S.App.D.C. 366 ¶4(D.C. Cir. 1970).
  • “”If a litigant is granted i.f.p. status in a district court, and if that status is not revoked in the district court, the litigant, upon filing a notice of appeal, continues on appeal in i.f.p. status. Fed.R.App.P. 24(a)”  Leonard v. Lacy, 88 F.3d 181n.2(2nd Cir. 1996).
  • “Normally, when a litigant is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis by the district court, this status carries over in the Court of Appeals.  Fed.R.App.P. 24(a). However, if the district court dismisses the case as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(d), the litigant must reapply to this Court to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, since a finding of frivolousness is viewed as a certification that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(a); Fed.R.App.P. 24(a). Dismissal of a complaint by the district court under Rule 12(b)(6) or any other rule does not negate the in forma pauperis status. Because the district court dismissed the complaint using the language of Rule 12(b)(6), and not as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(d), there was no need to again grant Oatess leave to proceed in forma pauperis.” Oatess v. Sobolevitch, 914 F.2d 428 n.4(3rd Cir. 1990).
  • “[W]e are mindful of the provisions of Fed.R.App.P. 24(a) concerning appeals in forma pauperis. This rule provides that a party who has been permitted to proceed in the district court in forma pauperis ‘may proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization unless, * * * the district court shall certify that the appeal is not taken in good faith or shall find that the party is otherwise not entitled so to proceed, in which event the district court shall state in writing the reasons for such certification or finding.'”  Liles v. The South Carolina Department Of Corrections, 414 F.2d 61214(4th Cir. 1969).  “In case the district court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith, the required written statement must show not merely that the appeal lacks merit, but that the issues raised are so frivolous that the appeal would be dismissed in the case of a nonindigent litigant. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 82 S.Ct. 917, 8 L.Ed.2d 21 (1962); Ellis v. United States, 356 U.S. 674, 78 S.Ct. 974, 2 L.Ed.2d 1060 (1958).  Additionally, an appeal is properly denied as lacking the requisite good faith where there is a clear indication that the conduct of an indigent appellant amounts to a deliberate harassment of the courts or an intentional abuse of the judicial process” id. n.1.
  • “(1) a district court may certify that an IFP appeal is not taken in good faith under section 1915(a)(3) and Rule 24(a); (2) if the trial court does so, it is required under Rule 24(a) to set forth in writing the reasons for its certification;”  Baugh v. Taylor, 117 F.3d 197 ¶23(5th Cir. 1997).
  • “Under Fed.R.App.P. 24, a party granted ifp status in the district court retains that status on appeal unless the district court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith, in which case the district court must state in writing the reasons for the certification.”  Williams v. Shettle,  914 F.2d 260, ¶4(7th Cir. 1990).
  • “Thus, it is clear that a party may appeal in forma pauperis without making application for a certificate when he has already been permitted by the district court to proceed in forma pauperis. The only time a party is prevented from taking an appeal is when the trial court, before or after the notice of appeal is filed, certifies in writing that the appeal is not taken in good faith. When this occurs the petitioner may still seek a certificate from this court or the Supreme Court.” 
    Peterson v. UNITED STATES of America, 467 F.2d 892 (8th Cir. 1972)
    .
  • “”Petitioner renews his motion to proceed in forma pauperis in this court. This motion is moot, however, because Petitioner is already entitled to proceed in forma pauperis: Petitioner proceeded in forma pauperis in the district court, and the district court never certified that the appeal was not taken in good faith or found that the Petitioner was otherwise not entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3); Singleton v. Hargett 1999 WL 606712 at *1 n.2 (10th Cir. 1999) (unpublished opinion) (dismissing as moot petitioner’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the court of appeals).  “Because he was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in the district court, and because there has been no change to that designation, Petitioner retains his in forma pauperis status on appeal pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3).” Id. See also Celske v. Edwards, 165 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1998) (holding that the petitioner retained his leave to proceed in forma pauperis in the court of appeals because the district court had made no certification of bad faith).  Rhodes v. True, No. 99-3026 (10th Cir. 1999).

There is no finding by Judge Graham that the appeal was taken in bad faith, consequently the law was disregarded.  Judge Graham’s order denying in forma pauperis states the following:

THIS CAUSE having come on to be heard upon an Order of Reference from the Honorable Donald L. Graham, dated September 10, 2001, and this Court having reviewed the aforementioned Motions and the pertinent portions of the record, and noting that in other actions filed by Plaintiff, Judge Graham has denied Plaintiff’ s motions to proceed in forma pauperis (Case Nos . 00-14116, 00-14201 , 00-14202, 00-14240), and further noting that this Court has compared Plaintiff’s previously filed IFP motions and accompanying affidavits with the instant motion and affidavit and has found no relevant difference, and being otherwise advised in the premises , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis are DENIED.

See (D.E. #877).

The Eleventh Circuit, without offering a scintilla of proof, simply asserts:

Appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED because appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.  See Moreland v. Wharton, 899 F.2d 1168, 1170 (11th Cir. 1990) (holding that right to proceed IFP is not absolute, but rather is left to the sound discretion of the court.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 1. Notions of fundamental fairness without recitation to the law would require the Eleventh Circuit to support its conclusion that the “appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees“.  Consequently, Mason filed a motion for rehearing demanding to know the factual basis for the Eleventh Circuit’s conclusion that Mason had been untruthful.  The Eleventh Circuit absolutely refused to provide a factual basis to support its conclusion.

Appellant has filed a “motion for reconsideration and clarification,” which is construed as a motion for reconsideration of this Court’s order dated December 12, 2001, denying leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis. Upon reconsideration, appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED.

See  Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 2.

Disregarding Good Faith Requirement

Judge Donald L. Graham and the Eleventh Circuit both ignored the good faith requirement as their denials do not assert that the appeal was not taken in good faith much less provide any proof that the appeal was not taken in good faith.

A petitioner demonstrates good faith when he seeks appellate review of any issue that is not frivolous.  See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).  “Dismissal of an in forma pauperis complaint is appropriate when the claim is based on ‘indisputably meritless legal theory or factual allegations are clearly baseless.'”  Heghmann v. Indorf, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 767,*;324 B.R. 415; (1st Cir. 2005). “[I]f a judge is convinced, as the judge was here, that there is no substantial question for review and an appeal is frivolous and therefore futile, it is his duty to certify that the appeal sought to be taken in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith.” Parsell v. UNITED STATES of America, 218 F.2d 232 ¶25(5th Cir. 1955).  In Johnson v.Dencek, 868 F.2d 969 (7th Cir. 1989), the court remanded the case for a determination that the appeal was not taken in good faith where the district failed to make the determination.  In Johnson, the court ultimately allowed the plaintiff to appeal in forma pauperis notwithstanding the district findings of frivolousness that was predicated upon the plaintiff’s attorney conclusion that the lawsuit lacked merit.

Lack of Respect For the Supreme Court

Both Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit have disregarded the Supreme Court by making denials of in forma pauperis without providing any factual support for their decisions. This type of behavior is commonly referred to as a summary denial.  The U.S. Supreme Court has condemned summary denials of in forma pauperis.  The Supreme Court has stated that a court cannot deny in forma pauperis by simply making conclusory statements without stating supporting facts.  In Cruz v. Hauck, 404 U.S. 59, 61 (1971), the Supreme Court opined:

The benefits of this generous provision [in forma pauperis], now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915, have been limited, however, by the important proviso added in 1910 (36 Stat. 866) which, as now amended, reads: “An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith.” “Good faith” has been defined as a requirement that an appeal present a nonfrivolous question for review. If the district court certifies that an appeal would not present such a question, then an indigent may ask the court of appeals for permission to proceed in forma pauperis. That court must grant the renewed motion if after a de novo determination it disagrees with the district court’s application of the good faith test. If both lower courts refuse permission, then, unless this Court vacates the court of appeals’ finding, the pauper’s appeal is ended without a hearing on the merits. See Fed.Rule App.Proc. 24(a). It is important that, in all of these proceedings, the only cognizable issue is whether a summary survey (as opposed to plenary deliberation) suggests that a substantial argument could be presented…Our holdings have steadily chipped away at the proposition that appeals of the poor can be disposed of solely on summary and abbreviated inquiries into frivolity, rather than upon the plenary consideration granted paying appellants.

U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham: A Test Case For Abrogating Or Modifying Absolute Immunity

September 18, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Purpose of This Post

This post posits the idea that absolute immunity or judicial immunity as it presently exists does not serve the interest of the American public.  Judicial Immunity as it is presently interpreted by judges allows judges to intentionally disregard prevailing standards and inflict damage on individuals with impunity. The Supreme Court decreed that judicial immunity in effect is a necessary evil, the price to be paid for an independent and fearless judiciary. Judges should not feel free to engage in reckless behavior in total disregard of well-established law.  It is unremarkable in American jurisprudence that bad acts or lawlessness behavior has consequences for the perpetrator.  This post examines the behavior of U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham to make the case that “judicial immunity” can be exploited not for any great societal need, but for the benefit of the individual judge in escaping accountability for his or her commission of lawless acts that have no pretense of validity.  The larger picture, or the view from above, illustrates the extreme measures that the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal has employed to keep Judge Graham being held accountable for his unlawful and oppressive acts.  If the threat of a civil suit against a mean spirited and vindictive judge “intimidates” the judge into complying with the rule of law, then where is the harm to society?   Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 369 (1978)(“And if intimidation would serve to deter its recurrence, that would surely be in the public interest.”)

Absolute Immunity Or Judicial Immunity

A fact that is probably unknown to the overwhelming majority of Americans is that the judges of the United States have given themselves-because both the Constitution and Congress [statutes] is silent on the issue-absolute immunity to be free from lawsuits from their unlawful behavior.  “Absolute immunity is thus necessary to assure that judges, advocates, and witnesses can perform their respective functions without harassment or intimidation.” Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 512 (1978).  This absolute immunity applies even if the judge intentionally, knowingly, and/or willingly disregards the law. A judge can not be held accountable or subject to a lawsuit for his or her reckless disregard of clearly established law. A long line of the U.S. Supreme Court “precedents acknowledges that, generally, a judge is immune from a suit for money damages.Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991). “Although unfairness and injustice to a litigant may result on occasion, ‘it is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself.‘” Id. at 10.  “‘[I]mmunity applies even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly’“. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,11 (1991).  This notion of absolute immunity is partly premised on the idea that appellate review is available to correct “mistakes” of judges.  Not all Supreme Court justices have agreed with this line of reasoning, it was Justice Potter Stewart who said: “But the conduct of a judge surely does not become a judicial act merely on his own say-so. A judge is not free, like a loose cannon, to inflict indiscriminate damage whenever he announces that he is acting in his judicial capacity.”  Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 367 (1978). Lastly, if Judge Graham’s apparent sycophants at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have their way then Judge Graham’s dastardly and nefarious deeds will go unpunished.

Judicial Immunity Derived By A Negative Act

The constitution of the United States does not grant any judge immunity.  The Congress has not enacted any statute granting judges any immunity from civil suits.  One would think that if the founders of this country considered judicial immunity to be indispensable to the proper functioning of the United States as the judges who benefit from judicial immunity claims it is, they [the founding fathers] might have included some provision in the constitution for it.  Where does the legal authority for judicial immunity come from?  The answer is from judges themselves.   The legal reasoning and logic goes something to the effect of since the Congress did not abrogate judicial immunity, we have judicial immunity.  In other words, rather than make the argument that Congress took the affirmative act of granting judicial immunity, the proponents say they have judicial immunity because of what Congress did not do.  See Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 335 335 (1871).

Irony and Hypocrisy

At its core the concept of judicial immunity says that a judge should not be held accountable for his intentional disregard of the rule of law.  Every federal judge takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States.  See 28 U.S.C. § 453.  Sitting on their lofty perch, every day federal judges lecture to criminal defendants about taking responsibility for their actions.  At the same time these judges are lecturing criminal defendants about accepting responsibility for their reckless behavior, a government appointed attorney-an Assistant U.S. Attorney, is in courtroom B before a colleague fellow judge arguing that he or she should not be held accountable for his reckless disregard of the law.  Judicial immunity for recklessly disregarding procedural fairness and the rule of law eviscerates the egalitarian notion that everybody is equal under the law.  Judicial immunity for reckless acts breeds arrogance in the judge who simply says that because I am a judge you can’t touch me.  What purpose is served by granting immunity to a judge who recklessly and intentionally violate clearly established law?

The Greater Good Argument

Judges would have the American public to  believe that judges awarded themselves absolute immunity not because of their own self interest, but to some nebulous greater good idea.   “Although unfairness and injustice to a litigant may result on occasion, it is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,10 (1991).  Immanuel Kant, a widely respected German philosopher, once said: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”  Surely, this greater good argument should also be applicable in other professions-say the medical profession for an example.  It is beyond rational argument that doctors serve an invaluable and indispensable need to mankind.  However, doctors unlike judges, can not make the argument that I should not be sued because “mistakes”, incompetence, willfulness, and negligence must be tolerated because of society’s great need for doctors.

Debunking the Appellate Review Argument

The U.S. Supreme Court clings to the argument that: “Most judicial mistakes or wrongs are open to correction through ordinary mechanisms of review, which are largely free of the harmful side-effects inevitably associated with exposing judges to personal liability.”  Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219 (1988).” At the same time, the safeguards built into the judicial process tend to reduce the need for private damages actions as a means of controlling unconstitutional conduct. The insulation of the judge from political influence, the importance of precedent in resolving controversies, the adversary nature of the process, and the correctability of error on appeal are just a few of the many checks on malicious action by judges.” Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 512 (1978).  These arguments fail for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, there is no guarantee that the “judicial mistake” will ever be corrected on appeal.  The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, uses unpublished opinions to get the result it desires.  These unpublished opinions often create a thiefdom where no law prevails, but only the desires of the judges involved to seek a desired outcome.  Unpublished opinions are the weapon of choice in the war against the rule of law.  Appellate review is easily undermined by appellate judges.  See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell.  Where there is no appellate review, judicial immunity should not apply. In Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 370 (1978), Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. wrote a dissent which stated: “But where a judicial officer acts in a manner that precludes all resort to appellate or other judicial remedies that otherwise would be available, the underlying assumption of the Bradley doctrine is inoperative.” Secondly, the notion that a favorable appeal decision remedies a wrong is not adequate.  Suppose that a judge knowingly and intentionally disregards the rule of law and improperly incarcerates someone.  Would a successful appeal following six months or a year of incarceration be an adequate remedy for falsely imprisoning an individual?  The appeal does nothing to punish the rogue judge.  Where is the disincentive to a reckless disregard of the rule of law?

A Real Life Situation That Should Be Subject To Immunity

U.S. Dist Judge Donald L. Graham has exhibited a reckless behavior and a total and utter disregard for the rule of law.  It is difficult to argue that Judge Graham’s behavior has not been contemptuous and disdainful to the rule of law. Judge Graham’s defiance of well established law has inflicted the following damage on Mason:

  • Judge Graham has terrorized both Mason his children who had to live with Judge Graham’s reckless and lawless behavior.
  • 5 years supervised release probation
  • A special condition that precluded Mason’s use of the Internet.  This is a really pernicious punishment as Mason made his living as a MCSE, Micrsoft Certified System Engineer, CNE, Certified Novell Engineer working on computer networking and internetworking systems.
  • $200,000 in legal fees when Judge Graham had ceded jurisdiction of the case.
  • Use of U.S. Marshal and Power of U.S Attorney to Stop Criticism of Judge Graham, See mcneilmason.wordpress.com, post Power of US Government Used To Suppress Criticism of U.S. Dist. Judge Graham“.

In order to inflict this damage, Judge Graham intentionally disregarded prevailing legal standards and fundamental notions of due process which included, but is not limited to the following patently unlawful behavior:

  • Judge Graham denied Mason due process by disregarding the requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42(b) by failing to state “the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged” and describing them as such. The supposed show cause order rendered by Judge Graham describes “contemptuous acts” that are completely different from the information filed by the Government. The bench trial proceeded based upon the information and not the “essential facts” or “”contemptuous acts” listed in the show cause order. See “Judge Graham Violated Mason’s Due Process Rights by Disregarding the Criminal Contempt Procedure“.
  • Judge Graham used a clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing that was rendered on September 20, 2001 [Docket Entry No. 878 or (D.E. 878)] to form the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction. The information alleges a violation of this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. This sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction has multiple due process flaws and jurisdictional defects. This sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction lacks the requisite factual finding. This sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction misstates material facts. Judge Graham is willingly flaunting the law.  See “Judge Graham Is Willfully Flaunting The Law“.
  • The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of appeal assisted Judge Graham in denying Mason’s civil rights by repeatedly refusing to review this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction for validity.  See “The Co-Conspirators and Appellate Review“. This sua sponte issued pre-filing has never been reviewed for validity.
  • Judge Graham was motivated in part by his desire to intimidate and retaliate against Mason for filing 28 U.S.C. § 372(c) against him.  See “Circumstantial Evidence and Judge Graham’s Motive “.
  • Judge Graham used the criminal contempt procedure to attempt to force Mason to drop a lawsuit against him.  See “Contempt Abuse And Coercion To Drop Lawsuit Against Judge Graham “.
  • Judge Federico A. Moreno, a colleague of Judge’ Graham refuses to endorse Judge Graham’s abusive conduct with respect to the contempt procedure and conviction. Judge Moreno makes only the mitigating argument that Judge Graham did not act in bad faith. See “Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno Declines to Endorse Judge

Support for these allegations are fully set forth at “http://mmason.freeshell.org/blog/should_us_dist_judge_graham_be_criminally_indicted.htm” and “http://donaldlgraham.blogspot.com/2008/09/is-us-dist-judge-donald-l-graham.html“.  These sites ask the question:  “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham a Criminal?” Additionally, even more outrageous conduct is set forth at: Egregious Documented Acts of Judicial Misconduct by Judge Donald L. Graham

Previous Acts by Judge Graham Subject To Immunity

Judge Graham has engaged in other acts which demonstrate a reckless disregard for the rule of law. See FEDERAL JUDGE VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT, TENTH AMENDMENT RECEIVES ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY.  In one of its many acts of artifice, the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal in another related matter, whipped out its number one weapon-the unpublished opinion-against the rule of law to conclude that Judge Graham’s behavior was protected by judicial immunity.   See Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. v. Highlands County, 54 Fed. Appx. 934; 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 27909, * (11th Cir. 2002)(affirmed). The secret unpublished opinion, Case No. 02-13418, is quite revealing and insightful for what it doesn’t say.  Judge Graham was sued for an intentional reckless disregard for the First and Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.   However, in the opinion there is absolutely no mention of the facts that gave rise to the lawsuit.  Reading the opinion, the reader is left only with the legal conclusion that Judge Graham is entitled to absolute immunity without knowing what Judge Graham is immune from.  If Judge Graham is clearly entitled to absolute immunity then why won’t the Eleventh Circuit say what he is immune from?

Grave Procedural Error is Entitled To Judicial Immunity

The Supreme Court has stated that “grave procedural error” is entitled to judicial immunity. “A judge is absolutely immune from liability for his judicial acts even if his exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). This rational is woefully inadequate. Suppose for a moment that a judge acquired a criminal case and the Defendant demanded a jury trial and further that the judge disregarded the Defendant’s constitutional right to a jury trial. Next assume that the judge proceeded to find the Defendant guilty and had the Defendant incarcerated. Under the current “judicial immunity” doctrine, the judge could not be sued for such an outrageous and fundamental error. The defenders of the status quo would say that such an outcome is not possible because the Defendant need only file a petition for mandamus to force the judge to impanel a jury. The weakness of this argument is that since appellate judges have absolute immunity as well, an appellate panel determined to uphold a colleague judge could simply use an unpublished opinion and simply deny the petition on some contrived ground or state no reason for denial at all, See Case No. 01-15754, Order Denying Mandamus (“The petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.'”). The Defendant’s only remedy would be to sit in jail await an appeal for some time unspecified.

Lost of Judicial Immunity

“But when a judge knows that he lacks jurisdiction, or acts in the face of clearly valid statutes or case law expressly depriving him of jurisdiction, judicial immunity is lost.” Rankin v. Howard, 633 F.2d 844, ¶22 (1980), cert den. Zeller v. Rankin, 101 S.Ct. 2020, 451 U.S. 939, 68 L.Ed 2d 326. 28 U.S.C. § 455 generally describes situations in which a federal judge must recuse or disqualify himself.

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:

(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;

Consequently, if a federal Judge acts in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 455 then he or she would not have absolute immunity.  On September 20, 2001, when Judge Graham started his cavalcade of vindictive and lawless documented above, Judge Graham was without jurisdiction of the matter because he should have recused,  On appeal –Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell-the simply declined to review the issue of whether Judge Graham should have disqualified or not.  Judge Graham is excoriated on appeal and the Eleventh Circuit’s only discussion of the issue in the unpublished opinion is limited entirely to: “Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters, e.g., …his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges…”  See Unpublished Opinion, Case No.  01-13664.

For Every Wrong

There is a maxim that for every wrong there is a remedy, Holland v. Mayes, 19 So.2d 709, 711 (Fla. 1944). This concept is at the very core of American constitutional government. See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 163, 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803) (“The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation, if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right”). There is no doubt that Judge Graham has inflicted grievous harm on Marcellus Mason. As stated above, the Eleventh Circuit has denied Mason appellate review. Lastly, and even more galling and outrageous is that Judge J.L. Edmondson, Chief Judge, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of appeal does not consider Judge’s Graham’s unlawful behavior punishable under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. §351, et.seq. See http://mmason.freeshell.org/372c/index.html. Appellate review, Judicial Misconduct Complaints, and lawsuits are methods that can be used to discipline a rogue judge like U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, but the Eleventh Circuit has mastered the art evading these methods. For documented proof of this allegation. see mmason.freeshell.org/methods.htm.

Eleventh Circuit Disregards Well Established Law, Own Binding Precedent, And The U.S. Supreme Court: Achieving Desired Outcome By Ignoring Timely Filed Notices of Appeal

September 9, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Point of This Post

Judicial Independence

Form of Notice Of Appeal

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Other U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals On The Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Order Closing the Case

Introduction

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“. This post will reference Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision.  Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative involves a level of judicial dishonesty that is odious and virtually impossible to overstate as this appeal has been aptly called “the appeal from hell”.  See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell The Eleventh Circuit is clearly unconstrained either by the law or the facts in its inexorable march to the land of desired outcomes. However, this post will limit itself to the narrow discussion of how the Eleventh Circuit simply took away the right to appeal a pre-filing injunction by asserting that notices of appeals were untimely. On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M.Mason.  See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) .  Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. While not the subject of this post, but the sua sponte issued pre-fling injunction is remarkable  and incredible for the following reasons:

Point of This Post

This post will only address the narrow legal point that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Specifically, this post will document how the Eleventh Circuit disregarded well established law, its own binding precedent, and the United States Supreme Court in order to keep from reviewing a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction rendered by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham on September 20, 2001.  The Eleventh Circuit simply ignored several timely filed notices of appeal that attacked the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction.  Stated alternatively, the Eleventh Circuit just took away the legal right to appeal the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction rendered on September 20, 2001.  The final judgment as required under Rule 58 was rendered on September 13, 2002. Prior to this date, September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit disregarded several notices of appeal.

Judicial Independence

The American Bar Association, “ABA”, has created “talking points” on Judicial Independence. The ABA believes that Federal Judges should be left alone and be allowed to discipline themselves without “interference” from the Congress.

Benefits of Judicial Independence

It assures all Americans that cases will be decided on their merits. All litigants know that their case will be decided according to the law and the facts, not the vagaries of shifting political currents or the clamor of partisan politicians. Decisions are based on what is right and just, not what is popular at the moment.

ABA Talking Points: Independence of the Judiciary: Judicial Independence

Contrary to the ABA’s talking points, as this post documents, judges or appeals courts can simply deny an appeal without even bothering to address the merits of the appeal.  A court like the Eleventh Circuit can simply say a notice of appeal was untimely and disregard the right to appeal.   When this happens, a litigant is virtually without a remedy because the Supreme Court only hears about 1 per cent of the cases that are filed seeking review.

Form of Notice Of Appeal

Firstly, it is necessary to point out that according to the United States Supreme Court, a timely filed brief, formal or informal, or in this case a petition for mandamus may satisfy the notice of appeal requirement. There is no requirement that the brief or filing specifically state “notice of appeal”. “Rule 3(c) governs the content of notices of appeal: notices ‘shall specify the party or parties taking the appeal; shall designate the judgment, order or part thereof appealed from; and shall name the court to which the appeal is taken.Smith v. Barry, 502 U. S. 244 (1992). Courts will liberally construe the requirements of Rule 3. Thus, when papers are ‘technically at variance with the letter of [Rule 3], a court may nonetheless find that the litigant has complied with the rule if the litigant’s action is the functional equivalent of what the rule requires.Id at ¶11. [T]he notice afforded by a document, not the litigant’s motivation in filing it, determines the document’s sufficiency as a notice of appeal. If a document filed within the time specified by Rule 4 gives the notice required by Rule 3, it is effective as a notice of appeal.” Id at ¶13. Consequently, a petition for mandamus that meets that meets the requirements stated above is sufficient to satisfy the notice of appeal requirement.

The Eleventh Circuit has stated: “[P]recedent permits us to treat the petition for the writ of mandamus as a direct appeal”. In Re Bethesda Memorial Hospital Inc., 123 F.3d 1407, 1408 (11thCir. 1997).

Rule 4. Appeal as of Right—When Taken

In a civil case, a litigant normally has 30 days to tile an appeal from an order or judgment.

(a) Appeal in a Civil Case.

(1) Time for Filing a Notice of Appeal.

(A) In a civil case, except as provided in Rules 4 (a)(1)(B), 4 (a)(4), and 4 (c), the notice of appeal required by Rule 3 must be filed with the district clerk within 30 days after the judgment or order appealed from is entered.

See Rule 4, Fed.R.App.P.

Pertinent Facts

This post will only list the facts that are necessary to determine when the time for filing a notice of appeal begins to run.  More detailed background information can be found at mmason.freeshell.org, generally, and at http://mmason.freeshell.org/CaseSummary.htm.  This case was an employment discrimination case and was docketed under Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham.  The Case was dismissed on June 20, 2001, Docket Entry No. 791, by Judge Graham for constitutionally protected out of court communications between the Plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, and the Defendant, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners.   A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry #795).  District Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham was subsequently assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No.  01-13664.

Post Closing Order(s)

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M. Mason.  See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) .  Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. Consequently, when Judge Graham rendered this sua sponte issued pre-filing on September 20, 2001, the matter was on appeal already.

Final Judgment

Final Judgment was rendered almost one year after the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001.   The Defendants specifically requested a “final judgment” on February 25, 2002.  See Docket Entry No. 897Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002. See Docket Entry No.  911.  The order expressly stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant’s

Motion for Entry of Final Judgment (D.E. 897)…FINAL JUDGMENT ORDER AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED. Final Judgment is entered in favor of Defendant and costs, in the amount of $200,00 are awarded to Defendant in accordance with this Court’s January 25, 2002.

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

Prior to Final Judgment being rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit disregarded several notices of appeal that included the following:

  • Firstly, an appeal was pending, Case No. 01-13664 [a direct appeal], when Judge Graham rendered the sua sponte issue pre-filing injunction on September 20, 2001.  A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry 795).  On or about October 2, 2001, Mason filed a petition for mandamus challenging the validity of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Receipt.  This petition for mandamus was subsequently assigned Case No. 01-15754.  The briefs in the direct appeal, Case No. 01-13664, had not been filed yet and the first brief was not filed until February 4, 2002.  See Eleventh Circuit’s Docket.  Consequently, the Eleventh Circuit could have and indeed should have construed the petition for mandamus as a notice of appeal and simply allowed the parties to argue this issue in the pending appeal.  However, on December 5, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for mandamus without requiring the appellees to respond.   The ” petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.” See Opinion.
  • Case No. 02-11476.  On May 01,2002, or four months before Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for mandamus that should have been treated as a notice of appeal and stated in pertinent part:  “Mason also requests that this Court vacate the district court’s order enjoining Mason from to Mason’s former employment without first receiving permission from the district court. Although Mason has not filed a notice of appeal from the district court’s order requiring him to receive the permission of the district court from filing any additional pleadings or from filing any new lawsuits related to his former employment or subsequent interactions with the defendants, Mason may raise this issue on appeal…Accordingly, Mason’s IFP motion is DENIED because his mandamus petition is frivolous.”  See Order dated May 1, 2002.
  • Case No. 02-14646.  On October 07,2002, or 24 days after final   Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed a notice of appeal that had been filed on June 24, 2002, or almost three months before Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002. The Eleventh Circuit stated: This appeal is DISMISSED, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, filed on June 24,2002, is untimely from the district court’s order enjoining him from filing additional pleadings, entered on September 21,2001. See Fed.R.App.P, 4(a)(l)(A) & 26(a)(3).

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

“Every judgment shall be set forth on a separate document. A judgment is effective only when so set forth and when entered as provided in Rule 79(a).” Bankers Trust Company v. Mallis, 435 U.S. 381, 98 S.Ct. 1117, 55 L.Ed.2d 357 (1978). The sole purpose of the separate-document requirement, which was added to Rule 58 in 1963, was to clarify when the time for appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2107 begins to run. According to the Advisory Committee that drafted the 1963 amendment:”Hitherto some difficulty has arisen, chiefly where the court has written an opinion or memorandum containing some apparently directive or dispositive words, e. g., ‘the plaintiff’s motion [for summary judgment] is granted,’ see United States v. F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Co., 356 U.S. 227, 229, 78 S.Ct. 674, 2 L.Ed.2d 721 (1958). Clerks on occasion have viewed these opinions or memoranda as being in themselves a sufficient basis for entering judgment in the civil docket as provided by Rule 79(a). However, where the opinion or memorandum has not contained all the elements of a judgment, or where the judge has later signed a formal judgment, it has become a matter of doubt whether the purported entry of a judgment was effective, starting the time running for post-verdict motions and for the purpose of appeal. . . .

“The amended rule eliminates these uncertainties by requiring that there be a judgment set out on a separate document—distinct from any opinion or memorandum—which provides the basis for the entry of judgment.” 28 U.S.C.App., p. 7824. The separate-document requirement was thus intended to avoid the inequities that were inherent when a party appealed from a document or docket entry that appeared to be a final judgment of the district court only to have the appellate court announce later that an earlier document or entry had been the judgment and dismiss the appeal as untimely. The 1963 amendment to Rule 58 made clear that a party need not file a notice of appeal until a separate judgment has been filed and entered. Id at ¶7.

See also United States v. Indrelunas, 411 U.S. 216 (1973).

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

“'[C]ases from both the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal make it clear that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58.’”  Big Top Koolers, Inc. v. Circus-Man Snacks, Inc.,528 F.3d 839; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 11087; (11th Cir. 2008)(quoting Reynolds v. Golden Corral Corp., 213 F.3d 1344,1346 (11th Cir. 2000)). “But, Rule 58 provides an alternative means of determining when the final judgment is deemed entered: “[J]udgment is entered at the following times: . . . (2) if a separate document is required, when the judgment is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a) and the earlier of these events occurs: (A) it is set out in a separate document; or (B) 150 days have run from the entry in the civil docket.” Fed. R. Civ.P. 58(c) (emphasis added).” Id.

Other U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals On The Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Tenth Circuit

“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 sets forth how a judgment or order is to be entered. Under Rule 58(a)(1) ordinarily a “judgment [or] amended judgment must be set forth on a separate document.” (Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(a) defines judgment as “any order from which an appeal lies.”) But there are exceptions to the separate-document requirement; a separate document is not required for orders disposing of motions under Rules 50(b), 52(b), 54, 59, and 60. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 58(a)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E). Entry is straightforward when a separate document is not required; in that circumstance, the order is “entered” when it is “entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a).” Id. Rule 58(b)(1). But if a separate document is required, the judgment is entered only “when it is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a) and when the earlier of these events occurs: (A) when it is set forth on a separate document, or (B)”when 150 days have run from entry in the civil docket under Rule 79(a).” Id. Rule 58(b)(2). Medical Supply Chain, Inc. v. Neoforma, Inc., 508 F.3d 572 (10th Cir. 2007).

Fifth Circuit

What is significant about this case, Baker, infra, is that the district court entered an order and expressly wrote on the order that “‘This is a final judgment.‘” However, the court, Fifth Circuit, opined that this description did not meet Rule 58’s requirement for a separate document.  Baker, infra, at ¶12.

“‘[T]he 1963 amendment to Rule 58 made clear that a party need not file a notice of appeal until a separate judgment has been filed and entered.’ Rule 58 is thus a safety valve preserving a litigant’s right to appeal in the absence of a separate document judgment.” Baker v.Mercedes Benz Of North America, 114 F.3d 57 (5th Cir. 1997). “If a separate document judgment is not entered, however, the time for filing an appeal does not begin to accrue until a judgment complying with the Rule 58 dictates has been entered. The rule is to be ‘ ‘interpreted to prevent the loss of the right of appeal, not to facilitate loss.”” Id. at ¶10. “If a separate document judgment is not entered, however, the time for filing an appeal does not begin to accrue until a judgment complying with the Rule 58 dictates has been entered. The rule is to be ‘ ‘interpreted to prevent the loss of the right of appeal, not to facilitate loss.””  Id. at ¶11.

Order Closing the Case

On June 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered an order closing the case which stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendants’ Motion and Second Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Action (D.E. #511 and D.E. #646). THE MATTER was referred to the Honorable United States Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch. A report recommending that the Court grant Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiffs Actions (D.E. #511 and D.E. #646), dated May 31, 2001, has been submitted. Plaintiff filed his objections on June 12, 2001. The Court has conducted a de novo review of the file and is otherwise fully advised in the premises. Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that United States Magistrate Judge Lynch’s Report of May 31, 2001, is hereby RATIFIED, AFFIRMED and APPROVED in its entirety. Therefore it is, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion and Second Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Action is GRANTED. It is further, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s remaining claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. It is further, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this case is CLOSED and all pending motions are DENIED as MOOT. DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Miami, Florida, this 20th day of June, 2001.

See Docket Entry No. 791.

Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal Uses Unpublished Opinion of Three Judge Panel To Overrule Binding Published Opinion of An En Banc Court

August 9, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Point of This Post

Judicial Independence

Judicial Misconduct and Pending Complaints

Appointments

Brief History of The Eleventh Circuit

Definition of En Banc

Prior Panels Decisions Are Legally Binding

Background

Definition of An Injunction

Semantic Tap Dancing and Characterization

Definition of A Prior Restraint

Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit’s Apparent Nebulous Legal Reasoning And Utter Disregard For Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co. And The First Amendment

Discovery Orders


Introduction

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson uses the perfect scam to defeat claims of judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. § 351, et.seq. The perfect scam is a “negative definition” of judicial misconduct. A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.” http://academic.csuohio.edu/polen/LC9_Help/2/25negative.htm.


Point of This Post

The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, wanted to achieve the desired outcome so badly that it deployed an unpublished decision rendered by a three judge panel to overrule a legally binding opinion of an en banc court.  Specifically, Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980) affirmed Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89 (1981) was overruled by a mere three judge panel consisting of Circuit Judges, Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Hon. Stanley Marcus,  and Hon. Susan H. Black.  This post will compare Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision, to Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980), a published opinion Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative involves a level of judicial dishonesty that is odious and virtually impossible to overstate as this appeal has been aptly called “the appeal from hell”.  See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell The Eleventh Circuit is unconstrained either by the law or the facts in its inexorable march to the land of desired outcomes. However, this post will limit itself to the narrow discussion of how the Eleventh Circuit used a three judge panel and an unpublished opinion to achieve this pre-determined outcome even at the expense of overruling an en banc court.  Specifically, the following two “orders” were at issue on appeal:

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.

(DE #201). This order is dated June 19, 2000.

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.

(DE #246).

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.

(DE #246). This order is dated July 25, 2000.

“Orders regulating communications between litigants…pose a grave threat to first amendment freedom of speech. Accordingly, a district court’s discretion to issue such orders must be exercised within the bounds of the first amendment and the Federal Rules.” In re Sch. Asbestos Litig., 842 F.2d 671,680 (3d Cir. 1988). These orders are prior restraints and injunctions.  Among other things, there are two huge problems with these orders.  Firstly, these orders were issued by a Magistrate who can not issue an injunction.  Secondly, since these orders are prior restraints and as such, they are presumptively unconstitutional. “[T]he principal purpose of the First Amendment’s guaranty is to prevent prior restraints.”  In re Providence Journal Company at ¶17, infra. In order to achieve the desired outcome the Eleventh Circuit uses the following tactics that are deceitful and intentionally misleading:

  • It refuses to discuss whether these orders are really injunctions. There is no definition of an injunction and why these orders don’t fit within the definition of an injunction.
  • The term prior restraint is not used.  Mason’s right’s under the first amendment is not discussed.
  • The validity of these orders are not discussed in any manner. In a word, the Eleventh Circuit simply refuses to discuss the validity of these orders while it was quite willing to discuss Mason’s alleged violations of these patently illegal orders.

Judicial Independence

This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said:There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. What happens if the appeals courts disregards the rule of law? This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh Circuit took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.


Judicial Misconduct and Pending Complaints

Complaint Status
Judicial Conference pending

Reconsideration
pending

June 25, 2008
pending

July 9, 2008
pending

July 15, 2008
pending

It has been said that the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, has become quite serious in investigating federal judges for misconduct. According to law.com, Binding National Rules Adopted for Handling Judicial Misconduct Complaints, in March of this year, the Judicial Conference adopted the
first-ever binding nationwide procedures for handling complaints of judicial misconduct. U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham has escaped discipline for his abusive and possible criminal behavior.  As a result of this, Mason submitted complaints to both the Judicial Conference and Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal, again.  These complaints are governed by 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364,

The Judicial Improvements Act of 2002” formerly “The Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act“.

Previously, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, had been misconstruing the statute and summarily dismissing complaints of misconduct by simply regurgitating the statutory language at 28 U.S.C. § 352 which allows him to dismiss complaints that are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling“.
Judge Edmondson is alone in his view that legal error and judicial misconduct are mutually exclusive.  For more discussion on “legal error” and judicial misconduct, see article Chief Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson Uses Perfect Scam of Negative Definition To Defeat Complaints of Misconduct Under the Judicial
Misconduct and Disability Act
.

On Tuesday, June 25, 2008, a new complaint of judicial misconduct was filed against Judge Graham.  Additionally, complaints of misconduct were initiated against Judge Graham on July 9, 2008 and
July 15, 2008
.



Appointments

Judge Donald L. Graham (1992), Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. (1990),  and Hon. Susan H. Black(1992)  are appointments of President George H.W. Bush.  Judge Stanley Marcus is a 1997 appointment of President William J. Clinton.


Brief History of The Eleventh Circuit

Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980) was decided on June 19, 1980 and therefore binding precedent within the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal.  In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1207 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Court held:

This is the first case to be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, established October 1, 1981 pursuant to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act of 1980, P.L. 96-452, 94 Stat. 1995, and this opinion is the first to be published by the Eleventh Circuit. Under P.L. 96-452 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was divided into two circuits, the Eleventh and the “new Fifth.” This court, by informal agreement of its judges prior to October 1, 1981, confirmed by formal vote on October 2, 1981, has taken this case en banc to consider what case law will serve as the established precedent of the Eleventh Circuit at the time it comes into existence. We hold that the decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the “former Fifth” or the “old Fifth”), as that court existed on September 30, 1981, handed down by that court prior to the close of business on that date, shall be binding as precedent in the Eleventh Circuit, for this court, the district courts, and the bankruptcy courts in the circuit…The old Fifth followed the absolute rule that a prior decision of the circuit (panel or en banc) could not be overruled by a panel but only by the court sitting en banc. The Eleventh Circuit decides in this case that it chooses, and will follow, this rule.


Definition of En Banc

En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all judges of a court will hear the case, rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases, or cases considered of unusual significance. Appellate courts in the United States sometimes grant rehearing en banc to reconsider a decision of a panel of the court (a panel generally consisting of only three judges) where the case concerns a matter of exceptional public importance or the panel’s decision appears to conflict with a prior decision of the court...Cases in United States Courts of Appeals are heard by a three-judge panel. A majority of the active circuit judges may decide to hear or rehear a case en banc. Parties may suggest an en banc hearing to the judges, but have no right to it. Federal law states en banc proceedings are disfavored but may be ordered in order to maintain uniformity of decisions within the circuit or if the issue is exceptionally important. Each court of appeals also has particular rules regarding en banc proceedings. Only an en banc court or a Supreme Court decision can overrule a prior decision in that circuit; in other words, one panel cannot overrule another panel.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En_banc.


Prior Panels Decisions Are Legally Binding

A three judge panel decision or opinion binds all other subsequent appellate panels except an en banc court or the United States Supreme Court.  The Eleventh Circuit has stated: “Under our prior precedent rule, a panel cannot overrule a prior one’s holding even though convinced it is wrong. See, e.g., Cargill v. Turpin, 120 F.3d 1366, 1386 (11th Cir.1997) (‘The law of this circuit is ’emphatic’ that only the Supreme Court or this court sitting en banc can judicially overrule a prior panel decision.’  ‘[I]t is the firmly established rule of this Circuit that each succeeding panel is bound by the holding of the first panel to address an issue of law, unless and until that holding is overruled en banc, or by the Supreme Court.'”  United States v. Steele, 147 F.3d 1316, 1317-18 (11th Cir.1998) (en banc).


Background

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and the Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and their individual government employees in February 1999.  See Docket Sheet. This case was ultimately assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed, not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court and constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. See “R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E 791).  See Banned Communications.

On June 13, 2000 , the Government Defendants through their attorneys,  Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (D.E. 199)” which specifically requested:  “Defendants move the Court for an injunction prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants and/or their supervisory employees“.  Defendant’s counsel, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, cited no legal authority for the requested relief.

On July 6, 2000, the Government Defendants through their attorneys,  Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ RENEWED MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (D.E. #231)“, and requested the following relief:

Defendants respectfully renew their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the Plaintiff from contacting the supervisory employees of the Defendants or the individual Defendants directly, and directing Plaintiff to make all public records requests through the undersigned counsel.

This motion, as the first motion cited no legal authority for the requested relief. These requests or motions for preliminary injunctions were granted on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000, respectively.  These orders required Mason, a nonlawyer, living in Sebring, FL to contact private attorneys some 90 miles away in Tampa, FL  to ask for permission to speak with his local government in Sebring, Florida.  These orders in pertinent part stated:

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.

(DE #201).  This order is dated June 19, 2000,

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.

(DE #246).

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.

(DE #246).  This order is dated July 25, 2000.

Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of these injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law.”  See Docket Entry No. 407. However, Congress and the law disagree as the law expressly states that: “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).   Judge Graham has NEVER at any time cited legal authorities for these patently illegal orders even though there have been relentless requests.  See for example, and note that this list is not collectively exhausted, Case No. 99-14027 see Plaintiff’s  motions and responses, (Doc.#200);(Doc. #239); (Doc. #262);(Doc.  #264);(Doc. #284);(Doc.#334);(Doc. #509);(Doc. #515);(Doc. #526);(Doc. 554);(Doc. 632, pg.5);(Doc.#633);(Doc. 652);(Doc. 663); (Doc. 735); (Doc. 736); (Doc.738); (Doc. 783); (Doc. 787, pgs 2-3); (Doc. 810); (Doc. 812); (Doc.813); (Doc. 817); (Doc. 829), (Doc. 845);and the court’s orders: (DE #201), (DE #246);(Doc. #279);(Doc. 281);(Doc. #407);(Doc.  #524);(Doc. #528);(Doc. #634);(Doc. 673);(Doc. 744);(Doc. 745);(Doc.  766);(Doc. 791);(Doc. 874, pg. 2);(Doc. 882, pgs. 1-2); (DE-890); (DE-928);(DE-931).

On March 2, 2001, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners attorneys, Allen, Norton & Blue, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE FORM OF DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF’S ACTION AND SUPPORTING MEMORANDUM OF LAW“.  See Docket Entry No. 511.  This motion sought dismissal of the lawsuit due to alleged out of court communications with the Highlands County Government in violation the injunctions mentioned above, (DE #201) and (DE #246). On April 9, 2001, the Defendants’ filed a second motion for sanctions in the form of dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit for more alleged out of court communications between Mason and the Highlands County Government. See Docket Entry No. 646. On May 31, 2001, the Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr., prepared a Report and Recommendation, “R&R”, (D.E. #766), recommended that the lawsuit be dismissed because of these out of court communications between Mason and his local government, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners.  Judge Graham accepted this R&R in whole with no changes or comments.  See (D.E. #791).

Additionally, in his Report and Recommendation that recommends that the lawsuit be dismissed because of alleged violations of the orders of June 19, 2000, (D.E. #201) and July 25, 2000, (D.E. #246), the Magistrate admits that the validity of these orders were being challenged, but he declines to assert legal authority for these orders by stating only:

The Plaintiff alludes to this Court’s rulings, issued June 19 and July 25, 2000, directing that he should not contact any of the Defendants or individual Defendants, including their supervisory employees, regarding any matter related to this case except through their counsel of record. If the Plaintiff was represented, his attorney would know that this is proper procedure. The Plaintiff questions this Court’s authority to enter an “injunction” as he calls it preventing him from contacting the parties directly. This Court has entered numerous orders on this issue in ruling on Plaintiff’s many requests for clarification ito vacate, etc., of this issue and has attempted to clearly point out to the Plaintiff that it is a discovery issue and not one appropriate for injunctive relief. The Plaintiff has appealed those orders to the District Court and they have been affirmed by Judge Graham.

See Report and Recommendation, (D.E. #766, pg. 3, ¶5).  This case was closed on June 20, 2001.

Case Closure

The Case was closed on June 20, 2001. Docket Entry No. 791.  A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry 795).  District Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham was assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No.  01-13664.  Consequently, the court never reached the merits of the  lawsuit as there were motions for summary judgments pending when the case was closed.  See Docket Sheet.. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 769);(Doc. 770), and the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as well, (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797).


Definition of An Injunction

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) states:

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,”

The Eleventh Circuit scrupulously and meticulously avoids using the word injunction or prior restraint in their opinion.  The Eleventh Circuit admits the validity of the orders, (D.E. #201) and (D.E. #246), in question were being challenged on appeal.

On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.

See Opinion, Pg. 9.   Courts have defined injunctions in the following manner:

In this matter, Magistrate Lynch prohibits direct communication with the government as he expressly states:

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.

In a separate action, Mason v. Kahn, Case No. 08-1143 (D.C. Dist. 2008), the Court refers to the orders in question as injunctions.  See (D.E. #3)(“In this action, plaintiff alleges that the issuance of the June and July 2000 injunction orders…plaintiff demands that the injunction orders issued in his employment discrimination case be declared unconstitutional. “).  In the entirety of the Eleventh Circuit’s 14 page Opinion there is no discussion as to whether the orders in question are injunctions.  Similarly, in an old Fifth Circuit decision,  Lewis v. S. S. Baune, 534 F.2d 1115 (5th Cir. 1976), that the Eleventh Circuit is bound by, see Bonner v. City of Prichard, supra; the Court held that an order which restricted communications between litigants without benefit of the attorneys involved amounted to an unconstitutional injunction:

It prohibited appellant from “discussing, directly or indirectly, settlement . . . with the plaintiffs” and from “contacting, communicating, or in any way interfering with the attorney-client relationship”. What the District Court in effect enjoined was a settlement between the parties, however amicably reached, if the claimants’ attorneys were not consulted. This was too sweeping a restraint by the lower court.


Semantic Tap Dancing and Characterization

The Eleventh Circuit opts to use the phrase “discovery order” as opposed to injunction or prior restraint.  For example:

  • On 19 June 2000, the magistrate judge issued discovery order prohibiting Mason from contacting the defendants… See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.  See Opinion, pg. 3.

Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. , who issued the orders never called them “discovery orders”.  The Magistrate in granting the Defendant’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction characterizes his order thusly:  “this Court is considering this Motion as a pretrial discovery issue and not an injunction issue per se”  See (DE #201). Similarly, on July 25 in granting the Defendants’ Renewed Motion For Preliminary Injunction, (D.E. #231) The Magistrate use the same characterization:  “this Court is considering this issue as a pretrial discovery issue and not an injunction issue per se…” See (DE #246).

On appeal these orders these orders are attacked by Mason the Appellant as illegal injunctions that violate his “free speech” rights.

  • These orders, (Doc. 201) and (Doc. 246), “preliminary injunctions” are invalid because this issue was not referred to the Magistrate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).  See Initial Brief, pg. 6.
  • A Magistrate does not have the legal authority to issue an injunction.  See Initial Brief, pg. 6.
  • The district court punished the Plaintiff for exercising his right of “free speech” by dismissing this meritorious lawsuit. Plaintiff has a clear right to communicate with his government about the matters in this controversy, litigation notwithstanding.

In their opinion, The Eleventh Circuit scrupulously and meticulously avoids using the word injunction or prior restraint.  The word injunction is used one time in the very verbose 14 page opinion.  See Opinion, pg. 12 (“Moreover, the magistrate judge and district court attempted to clarify with Mason that the Orders were not injunctions, but rather necessary for the orderly litigation of the case.”).  As stated above, the Defendants filed Motions For Preliminary Injunction; however, rather than use the term Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the Eleventh Circuit uses generic terms to refer to these motions:

  • “Heartland moved to enjoin Mason from contacting them… ”  See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • “Heartland renewed their motion based on Mason’s continued contact with them…”  See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • “On 25 July 2000, the magistrate judge granted Heartland’s motion…”  See Opinion, pg. 3.

Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr., Injunction or “Pretrial Discovery Issue and Not An Injunction Per Se”  were rendered on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000, which in part stated:

“Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.”

(DE #201). This order is dated June 19, 2000,

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.”

(DE #246).

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.”

(DE #246).This order is dated July 25, 2000. Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of the injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law. See Docket Entry No. 407.


Definition of A Prior Restraint

The orders in question prohibit direct communication with the government by a mere pro se litigant, Marcellus M. Mason, are properly characterized as prior restraints.  The order of June 19, 2000 states:

[T]he Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.  Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel.

See (DE #201).

“The term “prior restraint” describes orders forbidding certain communications that are issued before the communications occur. “ . Temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions — i. e., court orders that actually forbid speech activities — are classic examples of prior restraints.” Alexander v. United States 509 U.S. 544,550 (1993). “Prior restraint has traditionally been defined as a “predetermined judicial prohibition restraining specified expression…” Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980).  “A prior restraint is generally judicial rather than legislative in origin, although an enabling statute may authorize the judicial suppression of publication. The essence of prior restraint is that it places specific communications under the personal censorship of the judge.” id at ¶22.  “Prior restraints are “administrative and judicial orders forbidding certain communications when issued in advance of the time that such communications are to occur. Test Masters at ¶45, infra. According to the United States Supreme Court, a prior restraint comes to the Court with a heavy presumption against its validity. New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 714 (1971). This presumption is so strong it has been described a virtually insurmountable. In re Providence Journal Company, 820 F.2d 1342 (1st Cir. 1986)(“pure speech–speech not connected with any conduct–the presumption of unconstitutionality is virtually insurmountable.”). This presumption is so strong that the Supreme Court has refused to uphold prior restraints even where national security, id. at ¶21, and the defendant’s sixth amendment right to a fair trial have been involved, id. at ¶22.   In over two hundred years, the U.S. Supreme Court composed of nine Article III Judges, has never upheld a prior restraint on pure speech, In re Providence Journal Company, supra,, however, a mere Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr, issues these injunctions with ease.

In Test Masters Educational Services, Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559 (Fed. 5th Cir., 2005), the Fifth Circuit termed an order issued by Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore an injunction order:

[T]he district court’s injunction order enjoined Singh from communicating directly with, threatening, or harassing Test Masters Educational Services, Inc., its employees, its staff, or TES’s counsel, counsel’s employees, or counsel’s staff. The district court’s injunction was prompted by allegations from TES that Singh and his employees had called TES dozens of times a day, including seventy-one times on one day in May 2003. TES alleged that the calls included the screaming of obscenities.

This order prohibited communications between the parties, like the “discovery order” in this matter, was declared by the Testmasters Court to be a prior restraint. Id. at ¶45. Moreover, the  Testmasters Court held that even an acrimonious and hostile relationship between the parties would not justify a prior restraint.

The district court prohibited Singh from “communicating directly with . . . TES employees, staff or TES’s counsel, counsel’s employees, or counsel’s staff.” To quote selectively from the district court, the court found that the parties had demonstrated an “immaturity” and “mean-spirited[ness],” and that Singh was pursuing “vexatious litigation.” However, despite the perhaps need of these parties to never speak again, the court did not detail, and the record does not reflect, any “exceptional circumstances” to justify permanently enjoining Singh from generally communicating with TES, TES’s counsel and their staff and employees. The district court’s order enjoining Singh from communicating with TES employees, TES’s counsel, and its counsel’s employees was a prior restraint limiting Singh’s first amendment rights, and because the injunction order is not supported by exceptional circumstances, it is an unconstitutional restraint on Singh’s free speech rights. (emphasis added)


Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit’s Apparent Nebulous Legal Reasoning And Utter Disregard For Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co. And The First Amendment

Amendment I, U.S. Const. states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“Case law is not always necessary to clearly establish a right. A right may be so clear from the text of the Constitution or federal statute that no prior decision is necessary to give clear notice of it to an official.”  Rowe v. City Of Fort Lauderdale, 279 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir. 2002).  Notwithstanding case law and Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., it should be clear to all that communications with the government is constitutionally protected speech of the highest order.  The Eleventh Circuit and Judge Graham have shown a complete and utter disregard for Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., and its holdings. Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), is a fourteen page opinion.  This opinion is little more than propaganda as it does not discuss the validity of the orders or injunctions in question.  The first ten pages of this opinion ostensibly states the “facts of the case”.  The last four pages are dedicated to discussion of the legal issues or how the law is applied to the facts.  At page nine, the Eleventh Circuit admits:

On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state-law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.

This represents the sum total of the legal discussion of this issue.  However, at page 12, the Eleventh Circuit asserts the following:

Moreover, the magistrate judge and district court attempted to clarify with Mason that the Orders were not injunctions, but rather necessary for the orderly litigation of the case.

See Opinion. However, the en banc decision of the Eleventh Circuit, Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980), expressly rejected this line of reasoning for issuing a prior restraint. “[T]he general presumption against prior restraints is not mitigated by a claim that the fair and orderly administration of justice is at stake.” In addition to the above, the Eleventh Circuit also disregarded Bernard v. Gulf-Oil other holdings.

  • The expression that is restrained is protected.  id at 39. “Material unequivocally not protected by the Constitution may be the subject of a prior restraint if sufficient procedural safeguards are provided. This possibility does not exist in the present case because the communications proscribed by the order are constitutionally protected. id at 40. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit refuses to recognize Mason’s right to communicate with the government about any subject without restriction.
  • A prior restraint comes with a heavy presumption against its constitutionality and   imposes on the issuing court rigid requirements to justify prior restraints. The prior restraint must prevent direct, immediate and irreparable damage, and it must be the least restrictive means of doing so.  id at 47. Neither Judge Graham nor the Eleventh Circuit attempt to make such a showing.

Discovery Orders

The Eleventh Circuit characterizes the orders in question as “discovery orders”.  However, neither the Eleventh Circuit in their opinion, or the Magistrate in his orders, (DE #201) and (DE #246), identify which discovery rule forms the legal basis of these orders.  Discovery is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26-37. See pg. 13, “INFORMATION ON REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN A CIVIL ACTION (NON-PRISONER), United District Court, South Carolina”.  “‘Discovery’ refers to the process of obtaining facts and information about the case from the other party in order to prepare for trial.”  id.  Neither the Eleventh Circuit nor the Magistrate identify any of the known discovery methods that were prohibited or abused.  Assuming arguendo, that these orders were actually “discovery orders”, they would be still be invalid because the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not create jurisdiction to restrict requests for public records.  In re Infant Formula Antitrust Litigation, MDL 878 v. Abbott Laboratories, 72 F. 3d 842, 843 (11th Cir. 1995). Florida Courts have repeatedly held that the Federal Rules of Civil procedure or any court rules have do not affect a person’s right under Florida Public Records law. See B.B. v. Dep., Children & Family Serv., 731 So.2d 30, 34 n.4 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1999)(“Section 119.01 is not intended to expand or contracts rights under court procedural rules.”); Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420, 425 (Fla. 1979)(“[W]e do not equate the acquisition of public documents under chapter 119 with the rights of discovery afforded a litigant by judicially created rules of procedure.”) If the Florida Supreme Court declines to place restrictions on the right of access to Florida’s Public Records, then who in the hell Teflon Don to do so? Secondly, and more importantly, mere labels like “discovery orders” can not be used to undermine rights created by the the Constitution. The United States Supreme Court and the Congress has expressly prohibited federal judges from imposing its will on litigants by making rules or orders that abolish or nullify a right recognized by the substantive law of the state. In Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 10 (1941), the Supreme Court held:

Congress has undoubted power to regulate the practice and procedure of federal courts, and may exercise that power by delegating to this or other federal courts authority to make rules not inconsistent with the statutes or constitution of the United States; but it has never essayed to declare the substantive state law, or to abolish or nullify a right recognized by the substantive law of the state where the cause of action arose, save where a right or duty is imposed in a field committed to Congress by the Constitution. On the contrary it has enacted that the state law shall be the rule of decision in the federal courts.

In Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 472 (1965), the Supreme Court stated:

We are reminded by the Erie opinion that neither Congress nor the federal courts can, under the guise of formulating rules of decision for federal courts, fashion rules which are not supported by a grant of federal authority contained in Article I or some other section of the Constitution; in such areas state law must govern because there can be no other law.

Another One Bites the Dust: Same Set of Facts, Judge Graham Affirmed While Colleague Judge Forrester Reversed

July 24, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with [dis]respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“.

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida and in the Eleventh Circuit when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. and elsewhere in the Eleventh Circuit are reversed. In this post, U.S. Dist. J. Owen Forrester is “victimized” by the published opinion.  This is the fifth of five postings on this site where this has happened. U.S. Dist. Judges Daniel T. K. Hurley, Ursula Ungaro-Benages, Marvin H. Shoob, and William P. Dimitrouleas, met similar fates. See posting this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“, ““Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal“, U.S. Dist. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas Reversed While Colleague Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed by Killing The Appeal, and Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata. In each case the Eleventh Circuit chose to deploy an unpublished opinion to affirm and protect Judge Graham while his colleagues suffered reversals in published opinions. It is difficult to see how such a system advances the notion of equal justice. It would seem that justice is a function not of the “rule of law”, but of whether or not the judge is favored by the appellate courts.

Mason sought to appeal a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that was rendered by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham on September 20, 2001. See “The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction“, heading below. Sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions are void because they are issued without notice and opportunity to respond or due process. See, Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions, below. Additionally, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is void because it made a so-called “finding of bad-faith” without the requisite notice and opportunity to respond or due process. The Eleventh Circuit has a long history of refusing to review this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review.

Judicial Independence

This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said: “There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.

Judge J. Owen Forrester and the Published Opinion

U.S. Dist. Judge J. Owen Forrester was reversed on appeal where he dismissed a prisoner 28 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit, sua sponte, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted because the statute of limitations precluded the prisoner from stating a claim. On July 20, 2000, the district court entered a two and one-half page order dismissing Leal’s suit, sua sponte, under the PLRA’s screening provisions, 27 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Arsenio Leal v. Georgia Department Of Corrections, 254 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001). On August 23, 2000, the prisoner filed his notice of appeal from the dismissal. Ultimately, the court held that the notice of appeal was timely filed and proceeded to reverse Judge Forrester. If the Eleventh Circuit had used the same “rule of law” it used in Marcellus Mason v. Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al., Case No. 02-14646-A, D. C. Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham, U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, presiding, then it should have dismissed the appeal as untimely and not reversed Judge Forrester.

However, in Judge Forrester’s case, Arsenio Leal v. Georgia Department Of Corrections, 254 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001), the Eleventh Circuit held that

However, the 30-day appeal period does not begin to run until a final judgment is entered on a separate document pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 58 and 79(a).2 See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(7) (“A judgment or order is entered for purposes of Rule 4(a) when it is entered in compliance with Rule 58 and 79(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure”). Here, the district court entered an order dismissing Leal’s suit on July 20, but the court failed to enter a final judgment on a separate document pursuant to Rule 58. Because “the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58 . . . there is no lack of appellate jurisdiction on the basis of untimeliness” even though Leal did not file his notice of appeal until August 23.

Similarly, in Reynolds v. Golden Corral Corporation, 213 F.3d 1344 (11th Cir. 2000), the Eleventh Circuit held that

“[C]ases from both the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal make it clear that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58. See, e.g., United States v. Indrelunas, 411 U.S. 216, 93 S.Ct. 1562 (1973).”

As documented below, the Eleventh Circuit in an unpublished decision, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-14646-A, held that a notice of appeal was untimely where it preceded the final judgment. Unlike Arsenio Leal and Reynolds, the Eleventh Circuit held that Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, June 24, 2002, was untimely even though it preceded the final judgment, September 13, 2002 by almost three months. Stated alternatively, there was no separate final judgment when Mason filed his notice of appeal.

Judge Donald L. Graham and the Unpublished Opinion

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-14646-A

D. C. Case No. 99-14027-CIV, Teflon Don, presiding.

On February 19, 2002, Defendants, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al. filed a Motion for Entry of Final Judgment. (D.E. #897).

On September 13, 2002, the Defendant’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment was granted and a final judgment was entered. See (D.E. #911). Judge Graham stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment (D.E. 897)…ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED. Final Judgment is entered in favor of Defendant and costs….

See (D.E. #911).

On October 7, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeal stated:

This appeal is DISMISSED, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, filed on June 24, 2002, is untimely from the district court’s order enjoining him from filing additional pleadings, entered on September 21, 2001. See Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(1)(A) & 26(a)(3).

No motion for reconsideration may be filed unless it complies with the timing and other requirements of 11th Cir.R. 40-4 and all other applicable rules.

.

Long History of Refusing to Review the Sua Sponte Issued Pre-filing Injunction

The Eleventh Circuit has refused to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction no less than eight (8) times. The reasons for refusing to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is different each time. The following cases provided the Eleventh Circuit with the opportunity to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction:

Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal, Oct. 16, 2002 is particularly offensive because the Eleventh Circuit struck Mason’s appellate brief because it argued against that the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that the Eleventh Circuit stated was “beyond the scope of appeal”. However, when the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Judge Graham in its decision it then used the same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction to affirm Judge Graham. See Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal. This appeal, Case No. 01-13664 has been referred to as the “appeal from hell”. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell. Lastly, and even more offensive and egregious, the Eleventh Circuit sat idly by while Mason was being railroaded in a kangaroo court for contempt based solely upon this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Eleventh Circuit Sits Idly By While A Clearly Void Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction Wreaks Havoc On A Man’s Life. Clearly, a decision has been taken that Judge Graham’s career is more important than Mason’s life.

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his own motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M. Mason. See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) . Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. This type of injunction is commonly referred to under several different names: “leave to file injunction”, “vexatious litigant injunction”, “pre-filing injunction”, “filing injunction”, “1651 injunction”. This order was rendered when the matter had been on appeal since June 25, 2001. This fact creates a potential jurisdictional problem. See Post, “Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal!” to see how the Eleventh Circuit dishonestly handled this problem. For specific case law on sua sponte issued injunctions, See Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions, below. This same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that Mason was not notice given notice and opportunity to respond to makes a so-called “finding of bad faith” that was subsequently used to award a heavily insured governmental entity attorney’s fees of $200,000. At pages 5,6, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction asserts:

It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith. Indeed, he has admitted as much in his own pleadings and correspondence…Such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court.

A finding of bad faith requires due process as well. ” “A court must, of course, exercise caution in invoking its inherent power, and it must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees,..” Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 50 (1991). See also Byrne v. Nezhat, 261 F.3d 1075 (11th Cir., 2001)(A court should be cautious in exerting its inherent power and “must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees.” ). See Judge Donald L. Graham Awards $200,000 Attorney’s Fees Against An Indigent. Apparently, Judge Graham does not have to do a damn thing even if the United States Supreme requires it.

The U.S. Supreme Court,”SCOTUS”, On the Importance of Due Process

“Courts as well as citizens are not free ‘to ignore all the procedures of the law….’. The ‘constitutional freedom’ of which the Court speaks can be won only if judges honor the Constitution.” Walker v. City Of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307, 338 (1967)(Mr. Justice Douglas, dissenting). “Due process is perhaps the most majestic concept in our whole, constitutional system.” Joint Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 174 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter, concurring). It is ingrained in our national traditions, and is designed to maintain them. In a variety of situations, the Court has enforced this requirement by checking attempts of executives, legislatures, and lower courts to disregard the deep-rooted demands of fair play enshrined in the Constitution.” id. 161. “Fairness of procedure is “due process in the primary sense.” Brinkerhoff-Faris Co. v. Hill, 281 U. S. 673, 281 U. S. 681.

In a long line of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held that impingements of constitutional rights are, without variation, subject to the strictures of “due process” or notice and opportunity to be heard prior to their enactments. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950); Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67 (1972); Owen v. City Of Independence, 445 U.S. 622 (1980); Carey v.Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 259 (1978); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976).

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

The right of access to the Courts is clear according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977);M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102 (1996). The Supreme court has stated the right of access to the courts also protected by the First Amendment. BE&K Construction CO. v. National Labor Relations Board et al. 536 U.S. 516 (2001)(“the right to petition extends to all departments of the Government,” and that “[t]he right of access to the courts is … but one aspect of the right of petition.“). California Motor Transp. Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, 404 U. S. 508, 510 (1972)(“The right of access to the courts is indeed but one aspect of the right of petition.“). See Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004)(recognizing “the fundamental right of access to the courts”); Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974)(“The constitutional guarantee of due process of law has as a corollary the requirement that prisoners be afforded access to the courts in order to hallenge unlawful convictions and to seek redress for violations of their constitutional rights.“).

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

US CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HAVE ROUTINELY REJECTED “SUA SPONTE” PRE-FILING INJUNCTIONS.

A long line of United States appellate courts, including the Eleventh Circuit, have rejected sua sponte issuances of pre-filing injunctions because they are violations of due process. In Weaver v. Leon County Sch. Bd., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8128 (11th Cir. 2006), the Eleventh Circuit held that a litigant was entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before a restriction was imposed on his ability to challenge an injunction. U.S. v. Powerstein, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14928,*;185 Fed. Appx. 811 (11th Cir. 2006)(litigant entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before the court imposed the injunctive order ). See Sires v. Fair, 107 F.3d 1;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 2173 (1st Cir. 1997); Cok v. Family Court of Rhode Island , 985 F.2d 32 (C.A.1 (R.I.), 1993) (vacating a pre-fling injunction issued without notice); MLE Realty Assocs. v. Handler, 192 F.3d 259, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 23362 (2nd Cir. 1999) ; Lau v. Meddaugh, 229 F.3d 121 (2nd Cir. 2000) ; Holton v. Oral Surg. Sing Sing Corr., 24 Fed. Appx. 37; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 25151 (2nd Cir. 2001); Moates v. Barkley, 147 F.3d 207, 208 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 1998) (district court may not impose a filing injunction on a litigant without providing the litigant with notice and an opportunity to be heard.); Gonzales v. Feiner, 131 Fed. Appx. 373, * 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 8370, ** (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Wiliams v. Cambridge Integrated Servs. Group , 148 Fed Appx. 87, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 18624 (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027 (C.A.3 (Virgin Islands), 1992)(vacating a sua sponte issued injunction); It is imperative that the court afford the litigant notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to issuing such an injunction. In Re Head, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8265,*;174 Fed. Appx. 167 (4th Cir. 2006)(vacated a 10 yr. old sua sponte injunction); Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am., Inc., 390 F.3d 812, 819 (4th Cir. 2004)(vacating a pre-filing injunction issued without notice); Tucker v. Drew, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 11784 (4 th Cir. 1994) ;DOUGLAS BAUM v. BLUE MOON VENTURES, LLC , 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 91,*;513 F.3d 181;49 Bankr. Ct. Dec. 68 (5th Cir. 2008)(“Notice and a hearing are required if the district court sua sponte imposes a pre-filing injunction or sua sponte modifies an existing injunction to deter vexatious filings.”) ;De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144 (9th Cir.) ; Roscoe v. Hansen, 107 F.3d 880;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 4996 (10th Cir. 1997); Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20966,*;500 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007)(litigant must be given notice and a chance to be heard before the [injunctive] order is entered.); Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351,354 (C.A.10 (Wyo.), 1989)(vacated and holding that the litigant is entitled to notice and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order before it is instituted.); Procup v. Strickland, 567 F.Supp. 146 (M.D. Fla., 1983)(court issued a show cause order) Procup v. Strickland, 760 F.2d 1107, 1110 (C.A.11 (Fla.), 1985) (held that district court did give adequate notice and opportunity to be heard before issuance of the injunction); Cofield v. Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm., 936 F.2d 512, 514 (11th Cir.1991)(noting that court issued show cause order prior to rendering pre-fling injunction); In re Powell, 851 F.2d 427, 431 (D.C.Cir.1988)(reversing and holding If a pro se litigant is to be deprived of such a vital constitutional right as access to the courts, he should, at least, be provided with an opportunity to oppose the entry of an order restricting him before it is entered.); Martin v. Circuit Court, 627 So.2d 1298 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 1993)(reversing a pre-filing order and holding that limiting the constitutional right of access to the courts, essential due process safeguards must first be provided); Lawsuits of Carter, In re, 510 S.E.2d 91, 95; 235 Ga.App. 551 (Ga. App., 1998)(reversing a pre-filing injunction because notice or an opportunity not given); Riccard v. Prudential Ins. Co., 307 F.3d 1277, 1296 (11th Cir. 2002) (holding that injunctions “may not be expanded beyond the meaning of its terms absent notice and an opportunity to be heard.”).

Courts have felt that the notice and opportunity to respond was so important that they have reversed district courts even where they thought the pre-filing injunction was otherwise valid. See Oliver, In re, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (C.A.3 (Pa.), 1982); Scott v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage , 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 15709,*;143 Fed. Appx. 525(4th Cir. 2005);Gagliardi v. McWilliams, 834 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987). The United States Supreme Court has stated: A court must, of course, exercise caution in invoking its inherent power, and it must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees. (emphasis added) Chambers v.Nasco, Inc.,501U.S. 32, 50 (1991).

Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson: Contempt Abuse Is Not Judicial Misconduct

July 11, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamHe’s a bad motherf^%##, Shut your mouth!
Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson uses the perfect scam to defeat claims of judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. § 351, et.seq. The perfect scam is a “negative definition” of judicial misconduct. A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.” http://academic.csuohio.edu/polen/LC9_Help/2/25negative.htm. This post will advance the argument that Judge Edmondson is not troubled by the fact that a clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is to terrorize a man and his family by making it the subject of criminal contempt complaint and conviction.

Judicial Independence

This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said: “There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.

The Clearly Void Sua Sponte Issued Pre-filing Injunction

On September 20, 2001, District Court Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction against the Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason sua sponte or own his motion. See Docket Entry NO. 878, (D.E. #878, pg. 3). Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. Additionally, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is invalid because it also makes a “finding of bad faith“. At pages 5,6, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction asserts:

It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith. Indeed, he has admitted as much in his own pleadings and correspondence…Such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court.

This pre-filing injunction, being expressly issued sua sponte, was rendered without notice and an opportunity to be heard. It is well established that a pre-filing injunction may not issue absent due process or notice and opportunity to respond. See Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions, below. In this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, Judge Graham recognizes that the right of access to the courts is constitutionally protected: “This screening requirement best balances the interest in constitutionally mandated access to the federal courts…” See pg. 7.

Void Order Forms the Basis of Criminal Contempt Complaint and Conviction

Judge Graham took his clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and submitted it to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Marcos Daniel Jimenez, for prosecution. AUSA Robert Waters, with the full consent of his boss, US Attorney Marcos Daniel Jimenez, who signed the information, went ahead with a criminal contempt conviction and prosecution that they knew or should have known was based upon a clearly void order.

Beginning on or about September 20, 2001, and continuing to on or about November 1, 2002, in Highlands County, Dade county, and elsewhere, in the Southern District of Florida, the defendant, MARCELLUS M. MASON, Jr., did willfully and knowingly disobey and resist a lawful order of a Court of the United States, that is, the order issued by the Honorable Donald L. Graham, United States District Judge, on September 20, 2001, in the Southern District of Florida, in the case of Marcellus M . Mason v. Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et al., Case Numbers:…by repeatedly filing pleadings, motions, memoranda, and directly contacting other litigants in the above cited cases, after specifically being enjoined from and ordered not to file any such pleadings or contact other litigants by Court Order dated September 20, 2001, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 401(3).

See Information, Case No. 02-14020, Docket No. 6. 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) states: (3) Disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command. 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) expressly calls for a “valid order”, which does not and cannot include a void order.

Judge Edmondson Disagrees With Everybody!

Judge Edmondson appears to be alone in his belief that “legal error” and contempt abuse does not constitute judicial misconduct. Judge Edmondson’s apparent view is that a judge’s “legal rulings” are sacrosanct. Judge Edmondson disagrees with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct who has stated: “Legal error and judicial misconduct are not mutually exclusive.” In Matter of Feinberg, 5 NY3d 206 (2005). In California contempt abuse is considered “Willful Misconduct”. Wenger v. Commission on Judicial Performance , 29 Cal.3d 615 (Cal. 1981). Contempt based upon an invalid underlying order is willful misconduct. University of New Mexico, Institute of Public Law, Judicial Education Center. Judge Edmondson disagrees with his colleague, U.S. Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, (quoting Jeffrey M. Shaman, DePaul University Law, Steven Lubet, Professor, Northwestern University Law, and James J. Alfini President and Dean, South Texas College of Law), has stated:

Judicial action taken without any arguable legal basis —and without giving notice and an opportunity to be heard to the party adversely affected—is far worse than simple error or abuse of discretion; it’s an abuse of judicial power that is “prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts.” See 28 U.S.C. § 351(a); Shaman, Lubet & Alfini, supra, § 2.02, at 37 (“Serious legal error is more likely to amount to misconduct than a minor mistake.

See Opinion online at: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/coa/newopinions.nsf/ F822E1DE5540855A8825708B0081F154/$file/0389037o.pdf?openelement . Judge Edmondson disagrees with the Supreme Court Of Louisiana who found a judge guilty of judicial misconduct due to contempt abuse and who also stated that judicial misconduct could be found where “legal error was egregious, made in bad faith, or made as part of a pattern or practice of legal error.” In Re: Judge Martha Sassone, No. 07-O-0651, Supreme Court Of Louisiana. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has sanctioned judges for “Misuse of Judicial Authority” due to Improper consideration of contempt proceedings and for the  “Failure to Follow the Law”. Judge Edmondson disagrees with the Florida Supreme Court who opined:

[C]onduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary may be shown by evidence of an accumulation of small and ostensibly innocuous incidents which, when considered together, emerge as a pattern of hostile conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary.

Inquiry Concerning A Judge, NO. 97-376, Re: Steven P. Shea, Florida Supreme Court, March 23, 2003. Judge Edmondson disagrees with his own Judicial Conference, Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability who has stated:

[A] judge’s pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing legal standards and thereby causing expense and delay to litigants may be misconduct. However, the characterization of such behavior as misconduct is fraught with dangers to judicial independence. Therefore, a cognizable misconduct complaint based on allegations of a judge not following prevailing law or the directions of a court of appeals in particular cases must identify clear and convincing evidence of willfulness, that is, clear and convincing evidence of a judge’s arbitrary and intentional departure from prevailing law based on his or her disagreement with, or willful indifference to, that law.

http://www.uscourts.gov/library/judicialmisconduct/jcdopinions108.pdf

Judicial Misconduct Complaints of Contempt Abuse

Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Circuit Judge, does not consider knowingly convicting a man of crime that does not exist or a concocted crime, to be  misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act. Stated alternatively, Judge Edmondson does not consider framing an innocent person to be covered under the Act. This post will not characterize Judge Edmondson’s words, this author deplores the reader to read them and make your own judgment. In Case No. 05-0011, Judge Edmondson was specifically told of Judge Graham’s insolence

See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, Case No. 05-0011, Complaint No. 02-0059, and Order Dismissing Complaint No. 02-0059.

Mr. Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. filed this complaint against U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 372(c) and Addendum III to the Rules of the Judicial Council of the Eleventh Circuit.

In this complaint, Mr. Mason makes the unsubstantiated claim that Judge Graham is attempting to intimidate him by directing the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida to proceed with previously instituted contempt proceedings regarding his having violated Judge Graham’s order barring him from filing anything without the permission of the court.

Mr. Mason then makes numerous allegations concerning actions by Judge Graham which have previously been determined by the chief judge.

The allegations of this complaint are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling”and ” successive”. Therefore, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 372(c)(3)(A) and Addendum III Rule(s) 4(a)(2) and 18 (c), this complaint is DISMISSED.

See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, Case No. 02-0059.

The U.S. Supreme Court,”SCOTUS”, On the Importance of Due Process

“Courts as well as citizens are not free ‘to ignore all the procedures of the law….’. The ‘constitutional freedom’ of which the Court speaks can be won only if judges honor the Constitution.” Walker v. City Of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307, 338 (1967)(Mr. Justice Douglas, dissenting). “Due process is perhaps the most majestic concept in our whole, constitutional system.” Joint Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 174 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter, concurring). It is ingrained in our national traditions, and is designed to maintain them. In a variety of situations, the Court has enforced this requirement by checking attempts of executives, legislatures, and lower courts to disregard the deep-rooted demands of fair play enshrined in the Constitution.” id. 161. “Fairness of procedure is “due process in the primary sense.” Brinkerhoff-Faris Co. v. Hill, 281 U. S. 673, 281 U. S. 681.

In a long line of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held that impingements of constitutional rights are, without variation, subject to the strictures of “due process” or notice and opportunity to be heard prior to their enactments. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950); Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67 (1972); Owen v. City Of Independence, 445 U.S. 622 (1980); Carey v.Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 259 (1978); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976).

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

The right of access to the Courts is clear according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977);M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102 (1996). The Supreme court has stated the right of access to the courts also protected by the First Amendment. BE&K Construction CO. v. National Labor Relations Board et al. 536 U.S. 516 (2001)(“the right to petition extends to all departments of the Government,” and that “[t]he right of access to the courts is … but one aspect of the right of petition.“). California Motor Transp. Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, 404 U. S. 508, 510 (1972)(“The right of access to the courts is indeed but one aspect of the right of petition.“). See Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004)(recognizing “the fundamental right of access to the courts”); Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974)(“The constitutional guarantee of due process of law has as a corollary the requirement that prisoners be afforded access to the courts in order to hallenge unlawful convictions and to seek redress for violations of their constitutional rights.“).

Orders Issued Inconsistent With Due Process Are Void

A judgment is void if the rendering court acted in a manner inconsistent with due process of law. Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2862. “A judgment rendered in violation of due process is void in the rendering State and is not entitled to full faith and credit elsewhere.” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. V. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980). “[T]he constitution, by prohibiting an act, renders it void, if done; otherwise, the prohibition were nugatory. Thus, the warrant is a nullity.” Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. 204, 217 (1821). “’No judgment of a court is due process of law, if rendered without jurisdiction in the court, or without notice to the party.” Old Wayne Mut. Life Ass’n v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8, 15 (1907). Generally, a judgment is void under Rule 60 (b) (4) if the court that rendered it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter, or of the parties, or if acted in a manner inconsistent with due process of law. E.g., s Burke v. Smith, 252 F.3d 1260 (11th Cir. 2001); U.S. v. Boch Oldsmobile, Inc., 909 F.2d 657, 662 (1st Cir. 1990);Beller & Keller v. Tyler, 120 F.3d 21, 23 (2nd Cir. 1997); Union Switch & Signal v. Local 610, 900 F.2d 608, 612 n.1 (3rd Cir. 1990); Eberhardt v. Integrated Design & Const., Inc. 167 F.3d 861, 867 (4th Cir. 1999); New York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown 84 F.3d 137, 143 (5th Cir. 1996)

Effect of Void Order

“A void judgment is from its inception a legal nullity.” Boch Oldsmobile, at 909 F.2d 657, 661 (1st Cir. 1990). Lops v. Lops, 140 F.3d 927, 941 n. 19(11th Cir. 1998) (“something that is null has no legal or binding force.”); Carter v. Fenner, at 136 F.3d 1000 (5th Cir. 1998)(“[a] void judgement is one which, from its inception, was a complete nullity and without legal effect.”). Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. 204, 217 (1821)(“the constitution, by prohibiting an act, renders it void, if done; otherwise, the prohibition were nugatory. Thus, the warrant is a nullity.”);

“The principle stated in this terse language lies at the foundation of all well-ordered systems of jurisprudence. Wherever one is assailed in his person or his property, there he may defend, for the liability and the right are inseparable. This is a principle of natural justice, recognized as such by the common intelligence and conscience of all nations. A sentence of a court pronounced against a party without hearing him, or giving him an opportunity to be heard, is not a judicial determination of his rights, and is not entitled to respect in any other tribunal.” Windsor v. McVeigh, 93 U.S. 274;23 L.Ed. 914 (1876).

U.S. SUPREME COURT ON FINDING OF BAD FAITH

A court must, of course, exercise caution in invoking its inherent power, and it must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees,..” Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 50 (1991).

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

US CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HAVE ROUTINELY REJECTED “SUA SPONTE” PRE-FILING INJUNCTIONS.

A long line of United States appellate courts, including the Eleventh Circuit, have rejected sua sponte issuances of pre-filing injunctions because they are violations of due process. In Weaver v. Leon County Sch. Bd., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8128 (11th Cir. 2006), the Eleventh Circuit held that a litigant was entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before a restriction was imposed on his ability to challenge an injunction. U.S. v. Powerstein, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14928,*;185 Fed. Appx. 811 (11th Cir. 2006)(litigant entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before the court imposed the injunctive order ). See Sires v. Fair, 107 F.3d 1;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 2173 (1st Cir. 1997); Cok v. Family Court of Rhode Island , 985 F.2d 32 (C.A.1 (R.I.), 1993) (vacating a pre-fling injunction issued without notice); MLE Realty Assocs. v. Handler, 192 F.3d 259, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 23362 (2nd Cir. 1999) ; Lau v. Meddaugh, 229 F.3d 121 (2nd Cir. 2000) ; Holton v. Oral Surg. Sing Sing Corr., 24 Fed. Appx. 37; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 25151 (2nd Cir. 2001); Moates v. Barkley, 147 F.3d 207, 208 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 1998) (district court may not impose a filing injunction on a litigant without providing the litigant with notice and an opportunity to be heard.); Gonzales v. Feiner, 131 Fed. Appx. 373, * 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 8370, ** (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Wiliams v. Cambridge Integrated Servs. Group , 148 Fed Appx. 87, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 18624 (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027 (C.A.3 (Virgin Islands), 1992)(vacating a sua sponte issued injunction); It is imperative that the court afford the litigant notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to issuing such an injunction. In Re Head, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8265,*;174 Fed. Appx. 167 (4th Cir. 2006)(vacated a 10 yr. old sua sponte injunction); Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am., Inc., 390 F.3d 812, 819 (4th Cir. 2004)(vacating a pre-filing injunction issued without notice); Tucker v. Drew, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 11784 (4 th Cir. 1994) ;DOUGLAS BAUM v. BLUE MOON VENTURES, LLC , 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 91,*;513 F.3d 181;49 Bankr. Ct. Dec. 68 (5th Cir. 2008)(“Notice and a hearing are required if the district court sua sponte imposes a pre-filing injunction or sua sponte modifies an existing injunction to deter vexatious filings.”) ;De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144 (9th Cir.) ; Roscoe v. Hansen, 107 F.3d 880;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 4996 (10th Cir. 1997); Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20966,*;500 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007)(litigant must be given notice and a chance to be heard before the [injunctive] order is entered.); Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351,354 (C.A.10 (Wyo.), 1989)(vacated and holding that the litigant is entitled to notice and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order before it is instituted.); Procup v. Strickland, 567 F.Supp. 146 (M.D. Fla., 1983)(court issued a show cause order) Procup v. Strickland, 760 F.2d 1107, 1110 (C.A.11 (Fla.), 1985) (held that district court did give adequate notice and opportunity to be heard before issuance of the injunction); Cofield v. Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm., 936 F.2d 512, 514 (11th Cir.1991)(noting that court issued show cause order prior to rendering pre-fling injunction); In re Powell, 851 F.2d 427, 431 (D.C.Cir.1988)(reversing and holding If a pro se litigant is to be deprived of such a vital constitutional right as access to the courts, he should, at least, be provided with an opportunity to oppose the entry of an order restricting him before it is entered.); Martin v. Circuit Court, 627 So.2d 1298 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 1993)(reversing a pre-filing order and holding that limiting the constitutional right of access to the courts, essential due process safeguards must first be provided); Lawsuits of Carter, In re, 510 S.E.2d 91, 95; 235 Ga.App. 551 (Ga. App., 1998)(reversing a pre-filing injunction because notice or an opportunity not given); Riccard v. Prudential Ins. Co., 307 F.3d 1277, 1296 (11th Cir. 2002) (holding that injunctions “may not be expanded beyond the meaning of its terms absent notice and an opportunity to be heard.”).

Courts have felt that the notice and opportunity to respond was so important that they have reversed district courts even where they thought the pre-filing injunction was otherwise valid. See Oliver, In re, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (C.A.3 (Pa.), 1982); Scott v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage , 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 15709,*;143 Fed. Appx. 525(4th Cir. 2005);Gagliardi v. McWilliams, 834 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987).

Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, Masters of Jugglery: Jurisdictional Challenge Converted To Summary Reversal Motion To Achieve Desired Outcome

June 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”
He’s a bad motherf^%##, Shut your mouth!

Point of This Post

This post will document how the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, used jugglery to avoid an outcome that the facts and the law would have required. Jugglery is defined as manipulation or trickery especially to achieve a desired end. This matter concerns an appeal in the Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 01-13664 and District Court Case No. 99-14027-CIV-DLG, Judge Donald L. Graham, presiding. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit converted a motion to determine jurisdiction that it must satisfy to a summary reversal motion that is discretionary. Having recharacterized the motion, the Eleventh Circuit, without citing any facts, simply said the summary reversal was not warranted. Simply put, the Eleventh Circuit refused to state why it had jurisdiction. This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said: “There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.

Premise

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree, It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance Company Of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994). “The courts, no less than the political branches of the government, must respect the limits of their authority.” Catholic Conf. v. Abortion Rights Mobilization, 487 U.S. 72 (1988)..

ISSUE: Whether the Eleventh Circuit Had Jurisdiction of the Appeal?

The Appellant submitted a Motion To Determine Jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court has stated in case after case that a jurisdictional challenge maybe raised at any time. Moreover, both courts have stated that all courts are under an independent obligation to review its jurisdiction even if no party raises the issue. In this matter, rather than discuss why or why it did not have jurisdiction of the appeal the Eleventh Circuit converted the Motion To Determine Jurisdiction in to a motion for summary reversal. Having converted the motion into a summary reversal, a discretionary form of relief, the Eleventh Circuit, in a mere conclusory fashion simply asserted that the standards for a summary reversal were not met. Rather than construing the Motion To Determine Jurisdiction, a pro se motion, liberally to achieve substantial justice, the Eleventh Circuit construed the motion to achieve its own end.

Eleventh Circuit’s Response to Jurisdictional Challenge

On April 15, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated: “Appellant’s “motion to determine jurisdiction,” and “motion to determine subject matter jurisdiction and standing,” which are construed as motions for summary reversal, and are DENIED.” See Order Denying Jurisdiction.

On May 17, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

“Appellant’s motion for clarification is GRANTED, and this Court’s April 15, 2002, Order clarified as follows: Appellant’s motions, which were construed as motions for summary reversal, were denied because Appellant failed to meet the standards for summary disposition. See Groendyke Transport v. Davis, 406 F.2d 1158, 1162 (5th Cir.) cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1012, 89 S.Ct. 1628, 23 L.Ed.2d 39 (1969).”

See Order Granting Clarification.

Citing the Law and omitting the facts, an all too familiar tactic of the Eleventh Circuit, is that decisions are made with recitation to a court case with no recitation to the facts of the instant case

What Do You Know From Reading The Order?

This post was designed with the decision first for the purpose of accentuating the lack of information in decision not to discuss jurisdiction. Reading only the decision above, answer the following questions:

  • Why does the Eleventh Circuit have jurisdiction?
  • What is the law regarding jurisdiction on appeal?
  • What are the facts that support the decision?
  • Why did the Eleventh Circuit construe the motion to determine jurisdiction as a motion for summary reversal?
  • Who benefited by construing the motion as a motion for summary reversal?

Law On Jurisdiction

[T]he Supreme Court has ruled that “it is not proper for federal courts to proceed immediately to a merits question despite jurisdictional objections.” In re Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association, 173 F.3d 866; 335 U.S. App. D.C. 327 (C.A.D.C. 1999)(citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 1012, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998) (without proper jurisdiction, a court cannot proceed at all, but can only note the jurisdictional defect and dismiss the suit)”). “On every writ of error or appeal, the first and fundamental question is that of jurisdiction, first, of this court, and then of the court from which the record comes. This question the court is bound to ask and answer for itself, even when not otherwise suggested, and without respect to the relation of the parties to it.Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 94. See also UNITED STATES of America v. Mery GIRALDO-PRADO, 150 F.3d 1328 (11th Cir. 1998) (“We have noted that a party may raise jurisdiction at any time during the pendency of the proceedings.”);

In a case involving Judge Graham, United States Of America v. Machado, No. 05-11420, D. C. Docket No. 97-00238-CR-DLG, 465 F.3d 1301pgs. 8,9 (11th Cir. 2006);2006 US App (11th) 398, the Eleventh Circuit held:

We are aware, of course, that “subject-matter jurisdiction . . . can never be forfeited or waived” and “[c]onsequently, defects in subject-matter jurisdiction require correction regardless of whether the error was raised in district court,” United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630, 122 S. Ct. 1781, 1785 (2002); see also Arbaugh v. Y& H Corp., ___ U.S. ___, ___, 126 S. Ct. 1235, 1240 (2006) (“The objection that a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction . . . may be raised by a party, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage in the litigation, even after trial and the entry of judgment.”). That principle is not, however, an exception to the requirements for appellate jurisdiction, and if those requirements are not met we cannot review whether a judgment is defective, not even where the asserted defect is that the district court lacked jurisdiction.

The Eleventh Circuit had a duty to not only review its own jurisdiction, but that of the lower court as well. Even if the neither the parties raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction the Eleventh Circuit is required to do so on its motion or sua sponte. See ALFRED L. BOCHESE v. TOWN OF PONCE INLET, No. 04-11542, 405 F.3d 964 (11th Cir. 2005)(“Although the parties have not raised the issue here, we are obliged to consider, sua sponte, the question of our subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case before us.“), http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200411542.pdf.

Federal courts are “obligated to inquire into subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking. “As a threshold matter, therefore, we must initially determine both whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider Williams’ Rule 60(b) motion and whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the district court’s denial of his motion.” WAYNE BERTRAM WILLIAMS v. BRUCE CHATMAN, No. 06-16115 (11th Cir. 2007),,(citing Cadet v. Bulger, 377 F.3d 1173, 1179 (11th Cir. 2004)). “An appellate court has a duty to consider sua sponte whether appellate jurisdiction is properly invoked.” John Andrew Mattingly v. Farmers State Bank, No.98-3234 (6th Cir. 1998), ELECTRONIC CITATION: 1998 FED App. 0262P (6th Cir.) File Name: 98a0262p.06 (citing Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wetzel, 424 U.S. 737, 740 (1976)).

“When a colorable question exists, an appellate court has an unflagging obligation to inquire sua sponte into its own jurisdiction.” Charlesbank Equity Fund Ii v. Blinds To Go, Inc., 370 F.3d 151 (1st Cir. 2004).

Construed or Screwed

“Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category. They may do so in order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal, to avoid inappropriately stringent application of formal labeling requirements, or to create a better correspondence between the substance of a pro se motion’s claim and its underlying legal basis. ” Castro v. United States (02-6683) 540 U.S. 375 (2003). “Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.” United States Of America v. Pierre Castma , No. 07-13531 (11th Cir. 2005)(quoting Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 1908 (2007)).See also United States Of America v. Gary William Holt, No. 04-15848, 417 F.3d 1172 (11th Cir. 2005)(“noting that a pro se motion should be liberally construed to afford review on any “legally justifiable base”)(citing Sanders v. United States, 113 F.3d 184, 187 (11th Cir.1997) (per curiam) (noting that a pro se motion should be liberally construed to afford review on any “legally justifiable base”)).

The clear intent of liberal construction is for the benefit of the pro se litigant and not to the detriment of the pro se litigant. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit construed a Motion to Determine Jurisdiction to motion for summary reversal. This “construction” or recharacterization was to the detriment of Mason. The Eleventh Circuit took a mandatory motion which required it to assert facts and law to support both its jurisdiction and that of the lower court and converted it to a “summary reversal” motion. Had the Eleventh been unable to sufficiently support its jurisdiction and that of the lower court would have required a dismissal of the appeal. The Eleventh Circuit ran ahead to the finish line and saw who was going to win the race, consequently they changed the rules to guarantee the winner or outcome of the race. The Eleventh then construed the motion to determine jurisdiction into a motion for summary reversal which is a discretionary. Once the motion became discretionary, the Eleventh Circuit was free to avoid the outcome the facts would have demanded. It is difficult not to conclude that the rules were construed to achieve the desired outcome-vindication of Judge Graham.

Internal Operating Procedure

The Eleventh Circuit’s internal rules allows them to raise a jurisdictional issue at their discretion. 11th Cir. R. 31-1(e) (1999)states:

(e) Jurisdictional Question. If, upon review of the district court docket entries, order and/or judgment appealed from, and the notice of appeal, it appears that this court may lack jurisdiction over the appeal, the court may request counsel and pro se parties to advise the court in writing of their position with respect to the jurisdictional question(s) raised. The issuance of a jurisdictional question does not stay the time for filing briefs otherwise provided by this rule.

Motion To Determine Jurisdiction

Appellant’s Motion To Determine Jurisdiction was submitted on or about March 13, 2002. See Docket and Motion. This motion argued that the Eleventh Circuit did not have jurisdiction of the appeal because the alleged violations of preliminary injunctions, or orders that were granted on June 19, 2000, (DE #201), and July 25, 2000, (DE #246) were not lawful for the following reasons:

  • Magistrate is without legal authority to issue an injunction or a restraining order. See Motion, pps. 3,5-6.
  • These orders are invalid because the Defendants failed to file a complaint for an injunction or a restraining order.
  • These orders failed to meet the requirements for a “temporary Injunction” or “TRO”. See Motion, pg. 6,7.

Case Cited By Eleventh Circuit Supports Appellant

The Eleventh Circuit cited Groendyke Transport v. Davis, 406 F.2d 1158, 1162 (5th Cir.) cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1012, 89 S.Ct. 1628, 23 L.Ed.2d 39 (1969) for the proposition that a “summary reversal” was not warranted. However, Groendyke Transport actually supports Mason’s or the Appellant position. Firstly, Groendyke Transport, like the instant case involved the question of the validity of an injunction. Groendyke Transport, set forth two conditions that would warrant a summary disposal:

  • “The first comprises those cases where time is truly of the essence. This includes situations where important public policy issues are involved or those where rights delayed are rights denied.”
  • Second, are those in which the position of one of the parties is clearly right as a matter of law so that there can be no substantial question as to the outcome of the case…

The where rights delayed are rights denied position favors Mason. The injunctions issued in the instant case concerned First Amendment rights. These injunctions prohibited direct communications with the government. Secondly, one of the injunctions, (D.E. #246)(“”Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.), implicated Florida Public Record requests. It is well settled and unremarkable that the “the loss of constitutional rights for even a minimal amount of time constitutes irreparable harm.” See Taubman Company v. Webfeats, 319 F.3d 770 (6th Cir. 2002). More importantly, according to the Supreme Court: “The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976); same 11th Cir., Cate v. Oldham, 707 F.2d 1176 (11th Cir. 1983)(“It is well settled that the loss of First Amendment freedoms for even minimal periods of time constitutes irreparable injury justifying the grant of a preliminary injunction.“); Gresham v. Windrush Partners, Ltd., 730 F.2d 1417 (11th Cir. 1984)(“first amendment rights violated sufficient to show irreparable injury because loss of first amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury“) .

The one of the parties is clearly right as a matter of law condition favors Mason the appellant. The best argument in support of the appellant is lack of legal citation or facts by the Eleventh Circuit. More importantly, the law favored Mason because a Magistrate can not issue an injunction. Assuming arguendo, a Magistrate could issue an injunction, Mason would have prevailed because order fails to meet the 4 prong requirements for a preliminary injunction.

BACKGROUND

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and individual government employees in February 1999. This case was ultimately assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed, not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. “R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E 791). See Banned Communications. In June and July 2000, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, Allen, Norton & Blue asked the Magistrate to grant them preliminary injunctions that required Mason to contact them before he could talk to the government defendants. These orders required Mason, a nonlawyer, living in Sebring, FL to contact private attorneys some 90 miles away in Tampa, FL . These orders were granted on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000 in part stated:

Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.” (DE #201). This order is dated June 19, 2000,

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” (DE #246). “Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.” (). This order is dated July 25, 2000.

Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of the injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law. See Docket Entry No. 407. However, Congress and the law disagree as the law expressly states that: “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

On March 2, 2001, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners attorneys, Allen, Norton & Blue, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE FORM OF DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF’S ACTION AND SUPPORTING MEMORANDUM OF LAW“. See Docket Entry No. 511. This motion sought dismissal of the lawsuit due to alleged out of court communications with the Highlands County Government in violation the injunctions mentioned above,DE #201) and (DE #246). On April 9, 2001, the Defendants’ filed a second motion for sanctions in the form of dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit for more alleged out of court communications between Mason and the Highlands County Government. See Docket Entry No. 646. On May 31, 2001, the Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr., prepared a Report and Recommendation, “R&R”, recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed because of these out of court communications between Mason and his local government, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners. Judge Graham accepted this R&R in whole with no changes or comments.

The Case was closed on June 20, 2001. Docket Entry No. 791. A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001. (Docket Entry 795). District Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham was assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664. Consequently, the court never reached the merits of the lawsuit as there were motions for summary judgments pending when the case was closed. See Docket Sheet, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 769);(Doc. 770), and the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as well, (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797).

Refusal To Cite Legal Authority

Judge Graham and his Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. have repeatedly refused to cite legal authority for these orders, (DE #201) and (DE #246), which required Mason to seek the approval of private attorneys, Allen, Norton & Blue, prior to petitioning the government. See Court Orders: (DE #201), (DE #246);(Doc. #279);(Doc. 281);(Doc. #407);(Doc. #524);(Doc. #528);(Doc. #634);(Doc. 673);(Doc. 744);(Doc. 745);(Doc. 766);(Doc. 791);(Doc. 874, pg. 2);(Doc. 882, pgs. 1-2); (DE-890); (DE-928);(DE-931)).

U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham Disagrees with The Florida Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, And Every Other Jurisdiction

June 19, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”

Purpose of This Post

The purpose of this post is to prove that U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham is not a “strict constructionist” judge, but a “judicial activist” and a rogue judge. Judge Graham is of the apparent belief that he can assert some heretofore undisclosed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure “discovery rule” and take away rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution and Florida Law. Judge Graham believes, by apparent fiat, that he has the power to command that a non-lawyer litigant seek the permission of a private for profit attorney in order to request public records under Florida Law. Judge Graham is alone in this view. Secondarily, this post seeks to land a glancing blow to the American Bar Association’s notion of “judicial independence”.

Strict Constructionist Irony

U. S. District Judge Donald L. Graham is a 1992 President George Herbert Walker Bush appointee. Judge Graham is presumably a ‘strict constructionist’ . It is unremarkable and widely known that President George Herbert Walker Bush believed in the doctrine of strict contructionism and attempted to make judicial appointments accordingly. “A strict constructionist is one who sticks to the meaning of the words in the Constitution as they were used at the time of its drafting without reading too much into them.Law.com, Originalist? Constructionist? A Confirmation-Hearing Glossary. “Strict constructionism” is also used in American political discourse as an umbrella term for conservative legal philosophies such as originalism and textualism, which emphasize judicial restraint and fidelity to the original meaning (or originally intended meaning) of constitutions and laws. It is frequently used even more loosely to describe any conservative judge or legal analyst.The term is often contrasted with the pejorative phrase “judicial activism“, used to describe judges who seek to enact legislation through court rulings, although the two terms are not actually opposites.Wikipedia. As this webpage will prove, Judge Graham is not a ‘strict constructionist’ , but an activist judge making up laws and disdaining binding precedent as he sees fit with apparent impunity.

Judicial Activism

Judicial activism is when courts do not confine themselves to reasonable interpretations of laws, but instead create law. Alternatively, judicial activism is when courts do not limit their ruling to the dispute before them, but instead establish a new rule to apply broadly to issues not presented in the specific action. “Judicial activism” is when judges substitute their own political opinions for the applicable law, or when judges act like a legislature (legislating from the bench) rather than like a traditional court. In so doing, the court takes for itself the powers of Congress rather than limiting itself to the powers traditionally given to the judiciary.” http://www.conservapedia.com/Judicial_Activism.

“Judicial activism is the term used to describe the actions of judges who go beyond their constitutionally prescribed duties of applying law to the facts of individual cases, and “legislate” from the bench. These judges create new constitutional rights, amend existing ones, or create or amend existing legislation to fit their own notions of societal needs.” What is Judicial Activism?, Answered by Bruce Hausknecht, Judicial Analyst, http://www.family.org/socialissues/A000000653.cfm.

Rogue is “an individual varying markedly from the standard.” http://www.yourdictionary.com/rogue. Given the definition of rogue, then Judge’s Graham’s actions can easily be characterized as those of rogue judge.

History of Thumbing His Nose At Supreme Court Precedent

Judge Graham has a history of simply ignoring the edicts of the United States Supreme Court anytime he disagrees with them. Judge Graham has freely admitted that he is bound by the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal. See Skylark v. Honeywell Int’l, Inc., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10554 (S.D. FLA 2002)(“In the case of the Southern District of Florida, the only courts it must be obedient to are [the Eleventh Circuit] and the Supreme Court of the United States.“). However, Judge Graham’s actions have demonstrated that he clearly believes he is not bound any rule or law. Articles and posts listing Supreme Court binding precedent that Judge Graham has eschewed are:

An Egregious Incident of Judicial Activism And Usurpation

On July 6, 2000, the Government Defendants, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, through their attorneys, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ RENEWED MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (D.E. #231)“, and requested the following relief:

Defendants respectfully renew their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the Plaintiff from contacting the supervisory employees of the Defendants or the individual Defendants directly, and directing Plaintiff to make all public records requests through the undersigned counsel.

This motion cited no legal authority for the requested relief. On July 25, 2000, Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., granted the motion and commanded:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED… Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.

See Docket Entry No. 246. Without belaboring the point, a Magistrate may not issue an injunction of any type. “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of this order by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law. See Docket Entry No. 407. For more information on this case, see Background.

Judge Graham Refuses to Cite Legal Authority

Judge Graham is under the apparent belief that he need not cite legal authority for actions he takes as he has been repeatedly challenged to cite legal authority for the order in question, but he has adamnatly refused to do so. See Judge Graham’s and Magistrate Lynch’s orders: (DE #201), (DE #246);(Doc. #279);(Doc. 281);(Doc. #407);(Doc. #524);(Doc. #528);(Doc. #634);(Doc. 673);(Doc. 744);(Doc. 745);(Doc. 766);(Doc. 791);(Doc. 874, pg. 2);(Doc. 882, pgs. 1-2); (DE-890); (DE-928);(DE-931). On January 25, 2002, Judge Graham was asked the following:

By what legal authority does the Magistrate act in issuing the orders in question, (DE #201, 246), directing that a nonlawyer must seek the permission of a private for profit lawfirm in order to communicate with his government directly and request public records ?

See Exhibit 1, (DE 890).

Judge Graham’s Answer and Controlling Legal Authority was:

The Court shall accept this Motion as a filing. However, this motion will not be denied. Plaintiff has, on numerous occasions, filed motions for clarification in this case, all of which have been denied. The Court finds the present motion, like the motions before it, is without merit.

See Page 1, (DE 890).
Additionally, in his Report and Recommendation that recommends that the lawsuit be dismissed because of alleged violations of the orders of June 19, 2000, (D.E. #201) and July 25, 2000, (D.E. #246), the Magistrate admits that the validity of these orders were being challenged, but he declines to assert legal authority for these orders by stating only:

The Plaintiff alludes to this Court’s rulings, issued June 19 and July 25, 2000, directing that he should not contact any of the Defendants or individual Defendants, including their supervisory employees, regarding any matter related to this case except through their counsel of record. If the Plaintiff was represented, his attorney would know that this is proper procedure. The Plaintiff questions this Court’s authority to enter an “injunction” as he calls it preventing him from contacting the parties directly. This Court has entered numerous orders on this issue in ruling on Plaintiff’s many requests for clarification ito vacate, etc., of this issue and has attempted to clearly point out to the Plaintiff that it is a discovery issue and not one appropriate for injunctive relief. The Plaintiff has appealed those orders to the District Court and they have been affirmed by Judge Graham.

See Report and Recommendation, (D.E. #766, pg. 3, ¶5). Judge Graham is alone in his view as all other jurisdictions have rejected Judge Graham’s view of the law. See Litigant’s Right to Communicate With Government During Litigation, section below.

The Florida Supreme Court On Florida’s Public Records Law

The Florida Supreme Court has held that the mere fact that a public agency is being sued does not relieve that public agency of its obligations under the Florida Public Records Act. “Courts cannot judicially create any exceptions, or exclusions to Florida’s Public Records Act.” Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County v. D.B.,784 So. 2d 585, 591 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001). In Tober v. Sanchez, 417 So 2d 1053, 1055 (App. Dist. 3 1982), the court held:

We would be less than candid if we did not acknowledge that, as the present case demonstrates public agencies are placed at a disadvantage, compared to private person’s, when faced with potential litigation claims. It is also pertinent to observe that the wisdom of such a policy resides exclusively within the province of the legislature.

In several cases, the Supreme Court of Florida has held that the filing of a lawsuit under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not alter a public agency’s responsibility for disclosure under the Florida Public Records Act. In Henderson vs. State Of Florida, 745 So. 2d 319, 325-6; (Fla. 1999)

[W]e do not equate the acquisition of public documents under chapter 119 with the rights of discovery afforded a litigant by judicially-created rules of procedure.

See also Wait v. Florida Power and Light Company, 372 So. 2d 420, 425 (Fla. 1979)(“We find no authority to support the argument that Florida Power & Light, by engaging in litigation before a federal forum, has somehow given up its independent statutory rights to review public records under chapter 119. The fact that Florida Power & Light simultaneously engaged in litigation before a federal agency does not in any way prevent its use of chapter 119 to gain access to public documents.”).

The United States Supreme Court On State Court Law

The United States Supreme Court has expressly stated that is was bound by a state’s construction of its own law. “There is no doubt that we are bound by a state court’s construction of a state statute.” WISCONSIN v. MITCHELL, 508 U.S. 476, 483 (1993). The Eleventh Circuit has held that “[a] federal court applying state law is bound to adhere to decisions of the state’s intermediate appellate courts absent some persuasive indication that the state’s highest court would decide the issue otherwise.” Hunter v. Michigan Mutual Insurance Corporation,476 F.3d 1191 (11th Cir. 2007). The Florida Supreme Court has stated that: “”[t]he decisions of the district courts of appeal represent the law of Florida unless and until they are overruled by this Court.”[I]n the absence of interdistrict conflict, district court decisions bind all Florida trial courts.” Pardo v. State, 596 So. 2d 665, 666 (Fla. 1992). Assuming for the moment the absurd notion that a non-lawyer litigant does not have the right to communicate directly with the government under U.S. Constitution, a state could grant such a right and the federal courts would be bound by that state created right. The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly stated:

Within our federal system the substantive rights provided by the Federal Constitution define only a minimum. State law may recognize liberty interests more extensive than those independently protected by the Federal Constitution. If so, the broader state protections would define the actual substantive rights possessed by a person living within that State.

Mills v. Rogers, 457 U.S. 291, 300 (1982). The Florida Supreme Court has defined the right of access to public records as a substantive right. See MEMORIAL HOSPITAL-WEST VOLUSIA, INC. v. NEWS-JOURNAL CORPORATION,No. SC00-82, 784 So. 2d 438 (Fla. 2001)(“We have recently stated that the right of access to public records is a substantive right. See Henderson v. State, 745 So. 2d 319, 326 (Fla. 1999).”)

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT DEFINED

Judicial Misconduct has been defined by Jeffrey M. Shaman, DePaul University Law, Steven Lubet, Professor, Northwestern University Law, James J. Alfini, President and Dean, South Texas College of Law, U.S. Judge Alex Kozinski, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in part as:

Judicial action taken without any arguable legal basis —and without giving notice and an opportunity to be heard to the party adversely affected—is far worse than simple error or abuse of discretion; it’s an abuse of judicial power that is “prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts.” See 28 U.S.C. § 351(a); Shaman, Lubet & Alfini, supra, § 2.02, at 37 (“Serious legal error is more likely to amount to misconduct than a minor mistake.

See Opinion online at: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/coa/newopinions.nsf/F822E1DE5540855A8825708B0081F154/

$file/0389037o.pdf?openelement.

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Judicial Conference, Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability has stated:

[A] judge’s pattern and practice of arbitrarily and deliberately disregarding prevailing legal standards and thereby causing expense and delay to litigants may be misconduct. However, the characterization of such behavior as misconduct is fraught with dangers to judicial independence. Therefore, a cognizable misconduct complaint based on allegations of a judge not following prevailing law or the directions of a court of appeals in particular cases must identify clear and convincing evidence of willfulness, that is, clear and convincing evidence of a judge’s arbitrary and intentional departure from prevailing law based on his or her disagreement with, or willful indifference to, that law.

http://www.uscourts.gov/library/judicialmisconduct/jcdopinions108.pdf

Legal Error As Misconduct

“Legal error and judicial misconduct are not mutually exclusive.” In Re Feinberg, 5 NY3d 206,New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. “[T]he Florida Supreme Court has expressly held that a judge’s legal rulings can be the subject of judicial disciplinary proceedings.” State of Florida, JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION,INQUIRY CONCERNING A JUDGE, NO. 06-52, CHERYL ALEMAN CASE NO. SC07-198. “A single instance of serious, egregious legal error, particularly one involving the denial to individuals of their basic or fundamental rights, may amount to judicial misconduct.” In re Quirk, 705 So.2d 172 (La., 1997). “[J]udicial misconduct (including improper ex parte communications) varies in degree from plainly criminal or corrupt misconduct, through injudicious (but not corrupt) misconduct, to misconduct committed for proper motives though pursued by prohibited means.” Larsen, Matter of, 616 A.2d 529, 532 Pa. 326 (Pa., 1992). An emerging pattern of legal errors even though not an egregious legal error nor bad faith should be labeled misconduct because the continuing pattern of legal error constitutes neglect and ignorance of governing statutes. Miss. Com’n On Jud. Performance v. Britton, 936 So.2d 898 (Miss., 2006). See also In Re James Barr, 13 S.W.3d 525 (Tex.Rev.Trib., 1998)(“legal error by a judge may constitute grounds for a finding of judicial misconduct if the commission of legal error is founded on bad faith.”);Goldman v. Nevada Com’n on Judicial Discipline, 830 P.2d 107, 108 Nev. 251 (Nev., 1992)(“An experienced trial judge’s ignorance of proper contempt procedures, without more, has been held to constitute the bad faith necessary to a finding of willful misconduct.” )

Chief Judge J.L Edmondson’s Endorsement of Judge Graham’s Conduct

Chief Judge J.L Edmondson is of the misguided notion that legal error may not constitute “judicial misconduct”. Judge Edmondson appears to be alone in this view. Even more remarkable is Judge Edmondson’s apparent believe that a pattern and practice of ignoring prevailing legal standards is not judicial misconduct. This view is perfectly illustrated in Eleventh Circuit’s Miscellaneous Docket No. 05-0008, Complaint of Judicial Misconduct. When told of this clear usurpation of authority and other abuses or misconduct, Judge Edmondson stated:

In this complaint, the single (unsupported) allegation that has not already been determined in previous complaints filed by Mr. Mason against Judge Graham is that Judge Graham intentionally falsified his March 31, 2001, Civil Justice Reform Act Report in an attempt to conceal the fact that he had not ruled on one of Mr. Mason’s motions for over 15 months. Not withstanding the fact that the motion in question was pending for more than six months, and the fact that the March 31, 2001 report is incorrect, Mr. Mason has not presented any information, evidence or documentation to support his claim to suggest that the omission of this motion on this CJRA report was an intentional attempt by Judge Graham to conceal his failure to rule on the motion.

Does Judge Edmondson’s view represent “judicial independence” or non-accountability? “We report, you decideFox News. There is a whole pattern of conduct of that Judge Edmondson singularly disagrees is misconduct. See Egregious Documented Acts of Judicial Misconduct by Judge Donald L. Graham.

Litigant’s Right to Communicate With Government During Litigation.

Every jurisdiction in the United States has affirmed a citizen’s right to petition the government even in the midst of bitter litigation. “[T]here is nothing that prohibits one party to a litigation from making direct contact with another party to the same litigation. E.E.O.C. v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 948 F. Supp. 54 (E.D.Mo. 1996);. See IN RE HURLEY, No. 97-6058 SI (8th Cir. 1997) In Hurley, Discover Card, a creditor litigant in a bankruptcy case, communicated directly with the debtor litigant directly and as result the trial court bankruptcy judge concluded that Discover Card had acted unethically by violating DR 7-104(A)(1) of the ABA Code of Professional Responsibility. O n appeal, the court rejected this reasoning and held that rules of professional conduct does not apply to nonlawyers and parties are free to communicate with other. Rule 4-4.2, R. Regulating Fla. Bar states:

Also, parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other and a lawyer having independent justification for communicating with the other party to a controversy with a government agency with a government officials abut the matter. Communications authorized by law include, for example, the right of a party to a controversy with a government agency to speak with government officials about the matter.

Government remains the servant of the people, even when citizens are litigating against it. American Canoe Ass’n Inc. v. City of St. Albans, 18 F.Supp. 2d 620 (S.D.W.Va. 1998); Camden v. State Of Md., 910 F. Supp. 1115, 1118 n.8 (D. Md. 1996); Frey v. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 106 F.R.D. 32, 37 (E.D.N.Y. 1985). Holdren v. General Motors Corp., 13 F. Supp. 2d 1192 (D.Kan. 1998)(“there is nothing in the disciplinary rules which restrict a client’s right to act independently in initiating communications with the other side, or which requires that lawyers prevent or attempt to discourage such conduct.“); In Re Discipline Of Schaefer, 117 Nev. 496, 25 P.3d 191 ;117 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 44, 36173 (Nev. 2001) (“parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other.”); In Re Hurley, Case No. No. 97-6058 SI, (8th Cir. 1997); Jones v. Scientific Colors, Inc., 201 F.Supp.2d 820 (N.D. Ill., 2001) (citing “EEOC v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 948 F. Supp. 54, 55 (E.D. Mo. 1996(“there is nothing that prohibits one party to a litigation from making direct contact with another party to the same litigation.“)); Loatman v. Summit Bank, 174 F.R.D. 592 (D.N.J. 1997); Miano v. AC & R Advertising, Inc, 148 F.R.D. 68, 75 (S.D.N.Y.1993); Pinsky v. Statewide Grievance Committee, 578 A.2d 1075,1079 (Conn. 1990)(“Contact between litigants, however, is specifically authorized by the comments under Rule 4.2: … Also, parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other and a lawyer having independent justification for communicating with the other party is permitted to do so.“); Restatement of the Law (Third) The Law Governing Lawyers, §99. Cmt. K., pg. 76.(“No general rule prevents a lawyer’s client, either personally or through a nonlawyer agent, from communicating directly with a represented nonclient. Thus, while neither a lawyer nor a lawyer’s investigator or other agent may contact the represented nonclient, the same bar does not extend to the client of the lawyer or the client’s investigator or other agent.“); Reynoso v. Greynolds Park Manor, Inc, 659 So.2d 1156, 1160 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1995)(“[p]arties to a matter may communicate directly with each other and a lawyer having independent justification for communicating with the other party is permitted to do so. Communications authorized by law include, for example, the right of a party to a controversy with a government agency to speak with government officials about the matter.“). State v. Miller, 600 N.W.2d 457; 1999 Minn. LEXIS 592 (Minnesota Supreme Court 1999); Stone v. City Of Kiowa, 263 Kan. 502; 950 P.2d 1305; 1997 Kan. LEXIS 177, *34 (Kansas Supreme Ct. 1997); Terra Intern. v. Miss. Chemical Corp., 913 F. Supp. 1306 (N.D.Iowa 1996); Tucker v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co., 849 F.Supp.1096, 1097-1098 (E.D.Pa.1994); U.S. v. Heinz, 983 F.2d 609, 613 (5th Cir. 1993); U.S. v. Ward, 895 F.Supp. 1000, (N.D. Ill. 1995); Vega v. Bloomsburgh, 427 F. Supp. 593, 595 (D. Mass. 1977).

In Bernard v. Gulf Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459 (5th Cir. 1980) (en banc),[1] affirmed Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89 (1981), this Court declared an injunction that is similar to injunctions issues in this case, (Doc. 201);(Doc. 246), to be unconstitutional.

[1] Decisions by the former Fifth Circuit issued before October 1, 1981 are binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit. See Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1207 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc).

Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”

Foreword

There’s an old Negro spiritual called “May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me”. In this same spirit, this author allows the work of the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal and Judge Graham’s cohorts to speak for them. Unlike, Judge Graham, the Eleventh Circuit and his enablers apparent zeal and affinity for dishonesty, mis-characterization, omission, their work will not be characterized or mis-characterized it will be produced in full and publicly available for the reading public to make their own assessments. The record fully supports the idea that the Eleventh Circuit and its Judges and staff attorneys will take extreme, even lawless measures to protect Judge Graham. This post is part of an overall pattern and practice of using extreme measures and lawlessness to conceal the misconduct of Judge Graham. See Documented Allegations of Misconduct.

How Many Times Can a Court Refuse to Review an Order For Validity?

This post will demonstrate that the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals has set a Guinness world record for refusing to review a clearly void sua sponte pre-filing injunction that was rendered by “Teflon Don”, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham on September 20, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit has declined to reach the merits of this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction on multiple occasions. The denials invoke a kind of creative dishonesty. As a matter of fact, the denials are not consistent and even contradict each other on each successive attempt at appellate review. Even an ardent supporter of the system would have a hard time arguing that there is not a certain amount of dishonesty involved in the matter. The point here is that there has never been any appellate review of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001. Yet this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction has been used as a weapon against Marcellus Mason. The Eleventh Circuit has elevated artifice to a level that would make a shister lawyer proud. The coup de grace is the Eleventh Circuit sat idly by while this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction was used to form the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction. See this outrageous story, “Eleventh Circuit Sits Idly By While A Clearly Void Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction Wreaks Havoc On A Man’s Life“.

Judicial Independence

This post also makes vividly clear why federal judges cannot and should not be trusted to discipline themselves. The information provided in this post is not only true, but you would not be able to get this information anywhere else. The Eleventh Circuit relies on ignorance and the public’s willingness to believe that its federal judges are honest, diligent, and trustworthy. America should not drink the American Bar Association’s, “ABA”, koolaid of judicial independence.

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his own motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M. Mason. See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) . Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. This type of injunction is commonly referred to under several different names: “leave to file injunction”, “vexatious litigant injunction”, “pre-filing injunction”, “filing injunction”, “1651 injunction”. This order was rendered when the matter had been on appeal since June 25, 2001. This fact creates a potential jurisdictional problem. See Post, “Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal!” to see how the Eleventh Circuit dishonestly handled this problem. For specific case law on sua sponte issued injunctions, see Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions, below. This same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that Mason was not notice given notice and opportunity to respond to makes a so-called “finding of bad faith” that was subsequently used to award a heavily insured governmental entity attorney’s fees of $200,000. At pages 5,6, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction asserts:

It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith. Indeed, he has admitted as much in his own pleadings and correspondence…Such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court.

A finding of bad faith requires due process as well. ” “A court must, of course, exercise caution in invoking its inherent power, and it must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees,..” Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 50 (1991). See also Byrne v. Nezhat, 261 F.3d 1075 (11th Cir., 2001)(A court should be cautious in exerting its inherent power and “must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees.” ). See Judge Donald L. Graham Awards $200,000 Attorney’s Fees Against An Indigent. Apparently, Judge Graham does not have to do a damn thing even if the United States Supreme requires it.


Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal

The unpublished opinion rendered in this matter is a joke and model of dishonesty and deserved its own page and is a must read, see “Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell

This appeal was docketed under Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664. The Notice of Appeal was filed on June 27, 2001. See Docket No. 795.

On Mar. 6, 2002, the court strikes the Appellants’ Brief arguing against the September 20, 2001 order. The court states the order is “beyond the scope of appeal”. Court orders Mason to go through the expense of filing new briefs that have no reference to the September 20, 2001.

On Apr. 23, 2002, Court Strikes Appellees brief for citing the order of September 20, 2001.However court refuses to make Appellees file new briefs as they did the Appellant.

On Oct. 16, 2002, the Court, Stanley F. Birch, Jr.,Susan H. Black, and Stanley Marcus, affirms Judge Graham.At pg. 14, Court specifically uses the September 20, 2001 that it stated to Mason was “beyond the scope of appeal”.

Moreover, despite the closure of the case by the district court, Mason’s continual filing of motions with the court addressing matters previously settled prompted the district court to prohibit Mason from further filings without explicit permission and initiate criminal contempt proceedings.Therefore, the record supports the districts court’s implicit finding that a sanction less than dismissal of the action with prejudice would have no effect.


Case No, 01-15754, Mandamus

The Judges responsible for making this decision are Judges Susan H. Black, Rosemary Barkett, and Stanley Marcus. The Eleventh Circuit received a mandamus petition that was docketed as being received on October 2, 2001. See Receipt. This is a 25 page petition plus exhibits. Microsoft Word Format, html format, and pdf format. This petition attacks the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit Court had jurisdiction to entertain an appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292 from the moment the injunction of September 20, 2001 was issued even if the case was not closed like the matter at bar. According to the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit’s own binding precedents, this mandamus petition should have been treated as a notice of appeal. The Defendant, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, and U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham also received a copy of the mandamus petition. Judge Graham did not file a brief in opposition to the petition. The Defendant did not file a responsive brief to the petition. The Eleventh Circuit did not require anyone to respond the petition.

For more on this mandamus, see this site post “Eleventh Circuit Disses The U.S. Supreme Court Chooses To Protect Judge Graham

In reply to the 25 page petition on December 5, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit rendered the following “Opinion”:

“The “petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.” See “Opinion“, Case No. 01-15754.

Mason filed a motion for clarification seeking to know the basis upon which the decision was made or what the opinion stood for, however the Eleventh Circuit declined to discuss the matter.


Rehearing Denied

On January 25, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit denied a motion for clarification:

Petitioner’s “motion for reconsideration and clarification” of this Court’s December 5, 2001, Order, is DENIED as Petitioner has offered no reason sufficient to warrant either reconsideration or clarification of this Court’s Order.

Rehearing Denied

On or about February 06, 2004, Judges Susan H. Black, Rosemary Barkett, and Stanley Marcus were sent certified letters begging them to decide this matter. However, each of them declined to respond or do anything.


Case No. 01-16218

Judge Frank Hull rendered this opinion. On January 8, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

Although Mason has not filed a from the district court’s order denying IFP or the omnibus order requiring Mason to get court approval before filing any additional pleadings or lawsuits, Mason may raise all of these issues on appeal. See generally, Procup v. Strickland, 760 F.2d 1107 (11 th Cir. 1985) (reviewing the district court’s order enjoining a defendants from filing additional pleadings unless they were first submitted by an attorney admitted to practice in that court); United States v. Bailey, 175 F.3d 966 (11th Cir. 1999) (reviewing a district court’s decision not to recuse itself for abuse of discretion); Camp v. Oliver, 798 F.2d 434 (11th Cir. 1996) (reviewing district court’s order denying IFP for abuse of discretion).

See Opinion Case No. 01-16218.


Case No. 02-11476-A

On May 1, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit, Judge Joel F. Dubina, stated:

Mason also requests that this Court vacate the district court’s order enjoining Mason from to Mason’s former employment without first receiving permission from the district court. Although Mason has not filed a notice of appeal from the district court’s order requiring him to receive the permission of the district court from filing any additional pleadings or from filing any new lawsuits related to his former employment or subsequent interactions with the defendants, Mason may raise this issue on appeal. See generally, Procup v. Strickland, 760 F.2d 1107 (11th Cir. 1985) (reviewing the district court’s order enjoining a defendant from filing additional pleadings unless they were first submitted by an attorney submitted by an attorney admitted to practice in that court). Mason has an adequate alternative remedy on appeal regarding this issue.

See Opinion Case No. 02-11476-A. This is quite a remarkable and incredible statement by Judge Dubina in that by May 1, 2002, as fully set forth above, the Eleventh Circuit has already declined to review this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction twice. See above, Case No. 01-15754 denied mandamus on December 5, 2001, and Case No. 01-13664-A, the brief was stricken on March 6, 2002 because it was said to be “beyond the scope of appeal”, then the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction used against Mason on October 16, 2002.


Case No. 02-14646, Mandamus

Judges R. Lanier Anderson, Joel F. Dubina, and Charles R. Wilson names are on this decision. On Oct. 7, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

This Appeal is DISMISSED, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, filed on June 24, 2002, is untimely from the district court’s order enjoining him from filing additional pleading, entered on September 21, 2001.


Case No. 04-11894, Mandamus

Judges Ed Carnes and Frank M. Hull names appear on this opinion. On May 20, 2004, the Eleventh Circuit, among other things, admits to the following:

(2) vacatur of all of the decisions Judge Graham made in his case, including a September 20, 2001 order; (3) this Court to direct Judge Moore to dismiss his contempt case, number 02-14020-CR-KMM; and (4) this Court to issue an “emergency stay” with respect to the contempt case.

pg. 1, Opinion Case No. 04-11894.

At page 3, the Court asserts:

Moreover, Mason had an adequate alternative remedy to mandamus relief in that he could have timely appealed the September 20, 2001 order, but did not do so.

See pg. 3, Opinion Case No. 04-11894


Case No. 05-10623-I, Mandamus

Judge Rosemary Barkett made this decision. On March 16, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit, among other things, admits to the following:

[V]acate all decisions and rulings by Judge Graham in this case since February 1999, including the September 20, 2001 order enjoining him for filing any pleadings or additional related lawsuit without court; permission.

See Opinion pg. 1, Case No. 05-10623-I.

At pg. 2, the Eleventh Circuit asserted the following:“Furthermore, Mason appealed the dismissal of his case as well as the district court’s injunction order of September of 20, 2001...” See Pg. 2.

This statement is directly contradicted by the Eleventh Circuit’s prior assertion of May 20, 2004, Case No. 04-11894, pg. 4:”Moreover, Mason had an adequate remedy to mandamus relief in that he could have timely appealed the September 20, 2001, but did not do so.

The Eleventh Circuit has declined to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction on other occasions as well. See Appellate History.

The U.S. Supreme Court,”SCOTUS”, On the Importance of Due Process

“Courts as well as citizens are not free ‘to ignore all the procedures of the law….’. The ‘constitutional freedom’ of which the Court speaks can be won only if judges honor the Constitution.” Walker v. City Of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307, 338 (1967)(Mr. Justice Douglas, dissenting). “Due process is perhaps the most majestic concept in our whole, constitutional system.” Joint Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 174 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter, concurring). It is ingrained in our national traditions, and is designed to maintain them. In a variety of situations, the Court has enforced this requirement by checking attempts of executives, legislatures, and lower courts to disregard the deep-rooted demands of fair play enshrined in the Constitution.” id. 161. “Fairness of procedure is “due process in the primary sense.” Brinkerhoff-Faris Co. v. Hill, 281 U. S. 673, 281 U. S. 681.

In a long line of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held that impingements of constitutional rights are, without variation, subject to the strictures of “due process” or notice and opportunity to be heard prior to their enactments. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950); Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67 (1972); Owen v. City Of Independence, 445 U.S. 622 (1980); Carey v.Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 259 (1978); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976).

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

The right of access to the Courts is clear according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977);M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102 (1996). The Supreme court has stated the right of access to the courts also protected by the First Amendment. BE&K Construction CO. v. National Labor Relations Board et al. 536 U.S. 516 (2001)(“the right to petition extends to all departments of the Government,” and that “[t]he right of access to the courts is … but one aspect of the right of petition.“). California Motor Transp. Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, 404 U. S. 508, 510 (1972)(“The right of access to the courts is indeed but one aspect of the right of petition.“). See Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004)(recognizing “the fundamental right of access to the courts”); Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974)(“The constitutional guarantee of due process of law has as a corollary the requirement that prisoners be afforded access to the courts in order to challenge unlawful convictions and to seek redress for violations of their constitutional rights.“).

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

US CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HAVE ROUTINELY REJECTED “SUA SPONTE” PRE-FILING INJUNCTIONS.

A long line of United States appellate courts, including the Eleventh Circuit, have rejected sua sponte issuances of pre-filing injunctions because they are violations of due process. In Smith v. United States, 2010U.S. App. LEXIS 14050,*;386 Fed. Appx. 853 (11th Cir. 2010) , the
Eleventh Circuit held:

“Numerous persuasive authorities support the idea that due process requires notice and a hearing before a court sua sponte enjoins a party from filing further papers in support of a frivolous claim…Smith’s filing can therefore be construed as a motion for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4). A judgment is void under that rule “‘if the court that rendered it . . . acted in a manner inconsistent  [*8]  with due process of law.'”..We therefore vacate and remand so that the district court may consider imposing a lesser restriction that will protect against abusive filings without improperly restricting Smith’s right of access to the courts.   If the district court decides that an injunction is necessary, Smith should be provided with an opportunity to oppose the injunction before it is instituted. “

It is remarkable that the Eleventh Circuit, sua sponte, or on its own motion, initiated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) to reverse Judge Maurice Mitchell Paul.  Also, in Weaver v. Leon County Sch. Bd., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8128 (11th Cir. 2006), the Eleventh Circuit held that a litigant was entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before a restriction was imposed on his ability to challenge an injunction. U.S. v. Powerstein, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14928,*;185 Fed. Appx. 811 (11th Cir. 2006)(litigant entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before the court imposed the injunctive order ). See Sires v. Fair, 107 F.3d 1;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 2173 (1st Cir. 1997); Cok v. Family Court of Rhode Island , 985 F.2d 32 (C.A.1 (R.I.), 1993) (vacating a pre-fling injunction issued without notice); MLE Realty Assocs. v. Handler, 192 F.3d 259, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 23362 (2nd Cir. 1999) ; Lau v. Meddaugh, 229 F.3d 121 (2nd Cir. 2000) ; Holton v. Oral Surg. Sing Sing Corr., 24 Fed. Appx. 37; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 25151 (2nd Cir. 2001); Moates v. Barkley, 147 F.3d 207, 208 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 1998) (district court may not impose a filing injunction on a litigant without providing the litigant with notice and an opportunity to be heard.); Gonzales v. Feiner, 131 Fed. Appx. 373, * 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 8370, ** (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Wiliams v. Cambridge Integrated Servs. Group , 148 Fed Appx. 87, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 18624 (3rd Cir. 2005) ; Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027 (C.A.3 (Virgin Islands), 1992)(vacating a sua sponte issued injunction); It is imperative that the court afford the litigant notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to issuing such an injunction. In Re Head, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8265,*;174 Fed. Appx. 167 (4th Cir. 2006)(vacated a 10 yr. old sua sponte injunction);Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am., Inc., 390 F.3d 812, 819 (4th Cir. 2004)(vacating a pre-filing injunction issued without notice); Tucker v. Drew, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 11784 (4 th Cir. 1994) ;DOUGLAS BAUM v. BLUE MOON VENTURES, LLC , 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 91,*;513 F.3d 181;49 Bankr. Ct. Dec. 68 (5th Cir. 2008)(“Notice and a hearing are required if the district court sua sponte imposes a pre-filing injunction or sua sponte modifies an existing injunction to deter vexatious filings.”) ;De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144 (9th Cir.) ; Roscoe v. Hansen, 107 F.3d 880;1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 4996 (10th Cir. 1997); Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20966,*;500 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007)(litigant must be given notice and a chance to be heard before the [injunctive] order is entered.); Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351,354 (C.A.10 (Wyo.), 1989)(vacated and holding that the litigant is entitled to notice and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order before it is instituted.); Procup v. Strickland, 567 F.Supp. 146 (M.D. Fla., 1983)(court issued a show cause order) Procup v. Strickland, 760 F.2d 1107, 1110 (C.A.11 (Fla.), 1985) (held that district court did give adequate notice and opportunity to be heard before issuance of the injunction); Cofield v. Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm., 936 F.2d 512, 514 (11th Cir.1991)(noting that court issued show cause order prior to rendering pre-fling injunction); In re Powell, 851 F.2d 427, 431 (D.C.Cir.1988)(reversing and holding If a pro se litigant is to be deprived of such a vital constitutional right as access to the courts, he should, at least, be provided with an opportunity to oppose the entry of an order restricting him before it is entered.); Martin v. Circuit Court, 627 So.2d 1298 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 1993)(reversing a pre-filing order and holding that limiting the constitutional right of access to the courts, essential due process safeguards must first be provided); Lawsuits of Carter, In re, 510 S.E.2d 91, 95; 235 Ga.App. 551 (Ga. App., 1998)(reversing a pre-filing injunction because notice or an opportunity not given);Riccard v. Prudential Ins. Co., 307 F.3d 1277, 1296 (11th Cir. 2002) (holding that injunctions “may not be expanded beyond the meaning of its terms absent notice and an opportunity to be heard.”).

Courts have felt that the notice and opportunity to respond was so important that they have reversed district courts even where they thought the pre-filing injunction was otherwise valid. See Oliver, In re, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (C.A.3 (Pa.), 1982); Scott v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage , 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 15709,*;143 Fed. Appx. 525(4th Cir. 2005);Gagliardi v. McWilliams, 834 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987). The United States Supreme Court has stated: A court must, of course, exercise caution in invoking its inherent power, and it must comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees. (emphasis added) Chambers v.Nasco, Inc.,501U.S. 32, 50 (1991).


.

Pre-filing Restrictions

1. Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason is Permanently enjoined

from filing any additional pleadings in case numbers 99-14027- CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14116-CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14201-CIV-GRAHAM, 00-I4202- CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14240-CIV-GRAHAM, 01-14074-CIV-GRAHAM, 01-14078- CIV-GRAHAM, and 01-14230-CIV-GRAHAM or from filing any new lawsuit which relates in any way to Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason’s former employment and/or subsequent interactions with Defendants without first receiving permission from the Court, as set forth below. This injunction shall apply equally to any persons or entities acting at the behest, direction, or instigation, or in concert with Marcellus M. Mason.

2. Any request for permission to file a new lawsuit relating to the issues in the above captioned cases and/or Mason’s former employment and/or subsequent interactions with Defendants SHALL be in the form of an application filed with the Clerk of Court and addressed to United States District Judge Donald L. Graham. This application shall consist of a one paragraph explanation of the issues in the proposed lawsuit, shall contain the names of all proposed parties and shall not exceed one page. The application shall not include any proposed pleadings.

See Docket Entry No. 878.

Do Staff Attorneys Decide Appeals At The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals?

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, The “Teflon Don

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct.

Questions For Consideration

If a mere pro se litigant filed an appeal which excoriated a supposed excellent jurist like U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and accused him of judicial misconduct that could be proven, what do you think the staff attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit would do? The answer is the allegations will be simply be ignored by deploying an unpublished opinion that omits material facts. The author would prefer the reader to read the rest of this post to see how this is possible, but for those who can’t wait, please see:

Are Staff Attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals Deciding Cases and Appeals?

It is widely rumored, especially among mere pro se litigants, that staff attorneys, not United States Senate confirmed United States Circuit Court Of Appeals Judges, decide appeals in many cases. While this post will take a look at a couple of cases that the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal handled, there is no reason to believe that similar practices are not being deployed elsewhere. The overwhelming majority of opinions coming out of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are unpublished opinions which until recently could not be cited as binding authority. The evidence presented here will prove beyond a resonable doubt that staff attorneys, using unpublished opinions, do in fact decide cases, especially mere pro se cases or appeals.

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:

“The number of federal appeals court judgeships has not changed since 1990. In that same period, those courts’ caseloads increased by 41 percent. Of great aid to judges in the 12 regional appellate courts over those years have been the 12 court staff attorney offices…Judge Joel Dubina of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said, “We could not handle our caseload without the assistance of staff attorneys. The staff attorney office is an integral part of our court…”Core responsibilities vary among staff attorney offices, but in each appeals court they include review of all appeals filed by prison inmates without a lawyer’s help. Screening such “pro se” prisoner cases was the initial focus of staff attorney offices when they were formally authorized and established by Congress in 1982… Over time, the scope of the office’s substantive legal work expanded, involving staff attorneys in a larger percentage of the 60,000 federal appeals filed each year…Duties handled by staff attorney offices today range from screening all appeals, to drafting proposed opinions on preliminary matters, to preparing proposed orders, to reviewing pro se appeals for issues warranting oral arguments. Chief Judge William Wilkins said the productivity and reliability of the Fourth Circuit court’s staff attorney office allows judges and their law clerks to “minimize the time spent on the large number of pro se and counseled cases that do not present factual or legal issues that require oral argument for appropriate resolution.” “This enables us to allocate additional time to those more complex cases that are set for oral argument,” he said…In the Eleventh Circuit, staff attorneys, among other things, screen every appeal for possible jurisdictional defects. “We save the judges a lot of time by carefully going through volumes of handwritten and often imprecise legal arguments, and putting these in a form, along with citations to the record, briefs and applicable case law, that saves the judges time,” said Naomi Godfrey, the court’s senior staff attorney.”

See Staff Attorney Offices Help Manage Rising Caseloads.

A United States Circuit Judge on the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

It was U.S. Circuit Judge Richard S. Arnold, 8th Cir. U.S. Court of Appeal who said:

“If, for example, a precedent is cited, and the other side then offers a distinction, and the judges on the panel cannot think of a good answer to the distinction, but nevertheless, for some extraneous reason, wish to reject it, they can easily do so through the device of an abbreviated, unpublished opinion, and no one will ever be the wiser. (I don’t say that judges are actually doing this–only that the temptation exists.) Or if, after hearing argument, a judge in conference thinks that a certain decision should be reached, but also believes that the decision is hard to justify under the law, he or she can achieve the result, assuming agreement by the other members of the panel, by deciding the case in an unpublished opinion and sweeping the difficulties under the rug. Again, I’m not saying that this has ever occurred in any particular case, but a system that encourages this sort of behavior, or is at least open to it, has to be subject to question in any world in which judgesare human beings.”

1 J. App. Prac. & Process 219 (1999). UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS: A COMMENT, Richard S. Arnold, Copyright © 1999 University of Arkansas – Little Rock School of Law ; Richard S. Arnold.Judge Arnold, now deceased, cannot be resting comfortably. In Anastasoff. v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. 2000), Judge Arnold and his panel declared unpublished opinions to be unconstitutional. This opinion was subsequently vacated on other grounds, 235 F.3d 1054 (8th Cir. 2000) by an en banc court.

Cases Decided by Staff Attorneys

This post will refer the reader to three appeals that were decided by staff attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeals: Case No. 01-13664, 01-15754, and 02-13418. Each of these appeals excoriates U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, however, you won’t see a word of the accusations leveled at Judge Graham in the opinions. U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham was accused of the following documented acts in the above appeals:

  • Lying and Intentionally misrepresenting the law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction during the entire pendency of the lawsuit from November 1999 to June 20, 2001 or about 19 months.
  • Judge Graham falsely completed a Civil Justice Reform Act Report, “CJRA” to conceal the fact that he had a motion for a preliminary injunction pending for more than 17 months.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., to issue preliminary injunctions two times.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to dictate to a non-lawyer that he must seek the permission of private attorneys in order to speak with a local government.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to set restrictions on how Florida Public Records are to be accessed.
  • Allowing scores of motions to go undecided for months.
  • Intentionally misstating material facts in order to render a pre-filing injunction.
  • Disrespecting several well-established Supreme Court decisions proscribing certain acts of Judges.
  • Judge Graham has repeatedly and improperly denied access to the courts by arbitrarily denying in forma pauperis, “IFP”, petitions 18 separate times.
  • Judge Graham has been involved in possible criminal behavior by issuing a void sua sponte pre-filing injunction which ultimately formed the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.
  • Judge Graham used the criminal contempt process to force the withdrawal of a lawsuit.
  • Judge Graham awarded a massive $200,000 in attorney’s fees to Highlands County against an indigent plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, not on the quality of the underlying lawsuit, but based upon Judge Graham’s speculation about Mason’s motive.
  • Judge Graham attempted to circumvent the appellate process by using intimidation.

For support of these allegations and others, see Core Allegations.

The three appeals mentioned above are fully set forth and explored in detail in the following posts:

Chief Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson Uses Perfect Scam of Negative Definition To Defeat Complaints of Misconduct Under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act

June 8, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, The “Teflon Don

Purpose of this Post

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. The overall scheme of all methods (direct appeal, mandamus, lawsuit, misconduct complaints) of disciplining federal judges have been undermined and defeated by Judge Graham’s cohorts at the Eleventh Circuit, see http://mmason.freeshell.org/methods.htm. States with have removed judges from office for the conduct that is listed in this post and elsewhere. This post will examine the perfect scam that Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson has used to defeat claims of judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. § 351, et.seq. The perfect scam is a “negative definition” of judicial misconduct. A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.” http://academic.csuohio.edu/polen/LC9_Help/2/25negative.htm. Judge Edmondson does not define misconduct he simply disagrees with every act that alleges misconduct in the complaint is judicial misconduct. Consequently, a negative definition is used to define judicial misconduct out of existence. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson’s definition, or lack thereof, would suggest that federal judges are held to a lower standard than state court judges. Congress does not help as it chosen not to identify specific acts that it considers to be judicial misconduct for it has abrogated this responsibility and left it up to judges like Judge Edmondson to decide. Section 352 states:

(b) Action by Chief Judge Following Review.— After expeditiously reviewing a complaint under subsection (a), the chief judge, by written order stating his or her reasons, may—
(1) dismiss the complaint—
(A) if the chief judge finds the complaint to be—
(i) not in conformity with section 351 (a);
(ii) directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling; or
(iii) frivolous, lacking sufficient evidence to raise an inference that misconduct has occurred, or containing allegations which are incapable of being established through investigation; or

It is a well known fact that Chief Judges summarily dismiss complaints of misconduct at a rate greater than 90 per cent. This is part of the reason why Justice Stephen Breyer was selected by the then Chief Justice Rehnquist to do a study of the problem. At the urging of Congressman James Sensenbrenner, former Chairman, U.S. House Judiciary Committee, in 2004, a committee was formed (The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act Study Committee) by Chief Judge Rehnquist to study the problem of federal judicial discipline. Judge Edmondson is of the apparent belief that legal error and judicial misconduct are mutually exclusive. As a consequence of this narrow view, Judge Graham can put on his robe and do anything he damn well pleases because “legal error” is not judicial misconduct.

Other Tactics Used by Judge Edmondson

The use of the negative definition tactic is fatal enough by itself to demolish almost all complaints of judicial misconduct. However, Judge Edmondson has used at least three other tactics that augment the negative definition tactic. Judge Edmondson has used:

  • Mischaracterization. Judge Edmondson characterizes your allegations of misconduct and abuse in such a manner that they fit easily within the categories for summary dismissal. For an example, see Complaint No. 05-0011.
  • Omission. Judge Edmondson omits specific allegations of misconduct and abuse from his summary dismissals. For example, in complaint No. 01-0054, Judge Edmondson states: “The allegations of the Complaint are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling” and/or ‘Action on the complaint is no longer necessary because of intervening events, and therefore moot”. Consequently, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 372(c)(3)(A) and (3)(B) and Addendum Three Rule 4 (a)(2), this Complaint is DISMISSED.”
  • Fails to test allegations of misconduct for veracity. Judge Edmondson does not test allegations of misconduct and abuse for veracity.
  • Failure to Investigate. Judge Edmondson does not investigate allegations of misconduct and abuse. Judge Edmondson does not ask the complainant for more information to support a charge, he simply states that the charge lacks factual support.

Specific examples of the above are set forth below in the “Not Judicial Misconduct” heading. When told of these allegations, Judge Graham’s Chief Judge, S.D. Fla., Federico Moreno offered the following tepid “endorsement”:

I am in receipt of your letter written to me as a Chief Judge of the Southern District of Florida about actions by Judge Donald Graham. In that letter, you also complained about the Chief Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson. As you can understand one district judge cannot review the actions of another district judge. This rule applies to the Chief Judge of the District as well. It is before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that any complaint as to a ruling made by a District Judge can be made, I assure you that any decision rendered by Judge Graham was made in good faith upon what he perceived to be the law. Judge Graham has an impeccable reputation. However, if you feel that a judge has erred, the appellate judges in Atlanta are the ones who can decide what to do about it. Thank you for writing.

See Letter dated April 4, 2008.

Judicial Misconduct Complaints

The following complaints have been lodged against Teflon Don.

Not Judicial Misconduct

Judge Edmondson has expressly stated that each of the following documented acts of misconduct are not misconduct under the Act.

  • Lying and Intentionally misrepresenting the law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction during the entire pendency of the lawsuit from November 1999 to June 20, 2001 or about 19 months.
  • Judge Graham falsely completed a Civil Justice Reform Act Report, “CJRA” to conceal the fact that he had a motion for a preliminary injunction pending for more than 17 months.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., to issue preliminary injunctions two times.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to dictate to a non-lawyer that he must seek the permission of private attorneys in order to speak with a local government.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to set restrictions on how Florida Public Records are to be accessed.
  • Allowing scores of motions to go undecided for months.
  • Intentionally misstating material facts in order to render a pre-filing injunction.
  • Disrespecting several well-established Supreme Court decisions proscribing certain acts of Judges.
  • Judge Graham has repeatedly and improperly denied access to the courts by arbitrarily denying in forma pauperis, “IFP”, petitions 18 separate times.
  • Judge Graham has been involved in possible criminal behavior by issuing a void sua sponte pre-filing injunction which ultimately formed the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.
  • Judge Graham used the criminal contempt process to force the withdrawal of a lawsuit.
  • Judge Graham awarded a massive $200,000 in attorney’s fees to Highlands County against an indigent plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, not on the quality of the underlying lawsuit, but based upon Judge Graham’s speculation about Mason’s motive.
  • Judge Graham attempted to circumvent the appellate process by using intimidation.

These allegations and others fully documented at: (1)http://mmason.freeshell.org/CoreAllegations.htm; or (2)Documented Acts of Misconduct by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham. As of this date, the Judges at the Eleventh Circuit have allowed Teflon Don to escape rebuke and condemnation as Judge Graham has not been punished in any way for these acts. For example, many of these allegations were mentioned in a direct appeal and simply ignored by the appellate panel, see “Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell“. Petitions for mandamus met with a similar fate, see for example, Case No. 01-15754, “Eleventh Circuit Disses The U.S. Supreme Court Chooses To Protect Judge Graham“. Judge Graham’s behavior easily fits within positively defined definitions of judicial misconduct.

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT DEFINED

Judicial Misconduct has been defined by Jeffrey M. Shaman, DePaul University Law, Steven Lubet, Professor, Northwestern University Law, James J. Alfini President and Dean, South Texas College of Law, U.S. Judge Alex Kozinski, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in part as:

Judicial action taken without any arguable legal basis —and without giving notice and an opportunity to be heard to the party adversely affected—is far worse than simple error or abuse of discretion; it’s an abuse of judicial power that is “prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts.” See 28 U.S.C. § 351(a); Shaman, Lubet & Alfini, supra, § 2.02, at 37 (“Serious legal error is more likely to amount to misconduct than a minor mistake.

See Opinion online at: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/coa/newopinions.nsf/
F822E1DE5540855A8825708B0081F154/$file/0389037o.pdf?openelement
.

“[A] judge is guilty of “oppression in office” when that judge intentionally commits acts which he or she knows, or should know, are obviously and seriously wrong under the circumstances and amount to an excessive use of judicial authority.” State v. Colclazier, 2002 OK JUD 1, 106 P.3d 138.

“Where honesty or integrity are at issue, a single action can result in a finding of judicial misconduct.” In re District Judge Ronald F. Kilburn, Case No. 90-478, (Vermont Supreme Court 1991)(citing In re Hill, 152 Vt. 548, 572-75, 568 A.2d 361, 373-75 (1989)). See http://dol.state.vt.us/SUPCT/157/op90-478.txt.

“Canon 3A(5) is violated where there is a pattern of unreasonable delay or where a particular instance is so lacking in legitimate justification that it is willful. See Matter of Long, 244 Kan. 719, 724, 772 P.2d 814, 818 (1989) (Canon 3A(5) violated where delay is “significant, extensive, and unjustified”); Sommerville, 364 S.E.2d at 23 n.3 (sanctions appropriate under Canon 3A(5) where there is a pattern of delay resulting from either willful neglect of, or manifest inability to effectively perform, judicial duties); Matter of Alvino, 100 N.J. 92, 97 n.2, 494 A.2d 1014, 1016 n.2 (1985) (delay can violate Canon 3A(5) if “willful” or “typical of the judge’s work”);” See URL:http://www.libraries.vermont.gov/SUPCT/157/op90-478.txt.

“Legal error and judicial misconduct are not mutually exclusive.” In Re Feinberg, 5 NY3d 206,New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The University of New Mexico, Institute of Public Law, Judicial Education Center, has put together a Judicial Ethics Handbook which defines judicial misconduct.

If Judge Edmondson had an affirmative definition like the ones described above, then Judge Graham would have to disciplined. If the states are able to cite and list specific examples of judicial misconduct, then there is no reason why the federal judiciary can not do the same. To simply say, no that is not misconduct as Judge Edmondson does reflexively, is not enough.

Pending Judicial Misconduct Complaints

It has been said that the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, has become quite serious in investigating federal judges for misconduct. According to law.com, in March of this year, the Judicial Conference adopted the first-ever binding nationwide procedures for handling complaints of judicial misconduct. As a result of this, Mason submitted to complaints to both the Judicial Conference and Judge Edmondson again.