Florida Judge Thumbs His Nose at U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Due Process And Attorneys’ Fees

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

Preface

A district judge may not respectfully (or disrespectfully) disagree with his learned colleagues on his own court of appeals who have ruled on a controlling legal issue, or with Supreme Court Justices writing for a majority of the Court. Binding authority within this regime cannot be considered and cast aside; it is not merely evidence of what the law is. Rather, case law on point is the law. If a court must decide an issue governed by a prior opinion that constitutes binding authority, the later court is bound to reach the same result, even if it considers the rule unwise or incorrect. Binding authority must be followed unless and until overruled by a body competent to do so…A decision of the Supreme Court will control that corner of the law unless and until the Supreme Court itself overrules or modifies it. Judges of the inferior courts may voice their criticisms, but follow it they must.Hart v. Massanari, 266 F.3d 1155, 1170 (9th Cir. 2001).

Supreme Court’s Emphasis on Due Process

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).

Question

If Judge Graham has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he allow Mason Due Process as required by the U.S. Supreme Court?

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).

SHORT CASE SUMMARY

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. The case was originally assigned to then Chief Judge Edward Davis who retired. On February 20, 1999, Judge Davis allowed Mason to proceed in forma pauperis, “IFP”, or to proceed without paying the required filing fee for a lawsuit. Docket Entry No. 3. 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 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), 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. See Report and Recommendation, “R&R” (D.E.766), Order adopting R&R (D.E791). See Banned Communications. Judge Graham declined to reach the merits of the case as there were summary judgment motions pending on the day 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). More Background. When the case was dismissed on June 20, 2001 Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. expressly stated that the lawsuit was not frivolous. “However, there remain, as this Court recommended, various viable claims for trial.” See Report and Recommendation, (D.E #766, pg. 5), and Order Adopting R&R, (D.E. 791).

The United States Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has unequivocally 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., 501 U.S. 32, 50 (1991). “The court must afford the sanctioned party due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees. Id. Due process requires that the attorney (or party) be given fair notice that his conduct may warrant sanctions and the reasons why… “ In Re Mroz, 65 F.3d 1567 (11th Cir. 1995); Thomas v. Tenneco Packaging Co., 293 F.3d 1306 (11th Cir. 2002); 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”); First Bank Of Marietta v. Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 21117,*25;2002 FED App. 0356P (6th Cir. 2002); In Re Atlantic Pipe Corp., 304 F.3d 136, 143 (1st Cir. 2002)(“[A] district court’s inherent powers are not infinite… the use of inherent powers must comport with procedural fairness.”) Lockary v. Kayfetz, 974 F.2d 1166,1170 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 1992); In re: Rimsat, 212 F.3d 1039 (7th Cir., 2000);In re Kujawa, 256 B.R. 598, 611-12 (Bankr.8 th Cir., 2000).

The Supreme Court on Attorney’s Fees

[A] plaintiff should not be assessed his opponent’s attorney’s fees unless a court finds that his claim was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless, or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.Christiansburg Garment Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 434 U.S. 412, 422 (1978). As stated above, Judge declined to reach the merits of the lawsuit, but instead dismissed the case because Mason continually attempted to “to directly communicate with the Defendants rather their attorneys, the Court enjoined Mason from any further contact with the Defendants or Defendants” employees. Mason, however, ignored the Court’s order and continued to contact the Defendants…On June 20, 2001, in view of Mason’s repeated refusal to comply with the Court’s rules and orders, the Court dismissed case number 99-14027..” See pgs. 4,5Docket No. 878, Sua Sponte Injunction. Additionally, there were summary judgments pending on the day the case was dismissed.

Judge Graham Defies The U.S. Supreme Court

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction or vexatious litigant injunction sua sponte or without notice and opportunity to be heard. See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” Judge Graham then asserts his authority “Federal courts have “both inherent power and constitutional obligation to protect their jurisdiction from conduct which impairs their ability to carry out Article III functions.”” Even Judge Graham recognizes that there is constitutional right of access to the courts. See Pg. 7 (“This screening requirement best balances the interest in constitutionally mandated access to the federal courts..”). In this same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction Judge Graham makes a so-called “finding of bad faith“.

Bad “Faith Finding”

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). See Bad Faith Case Law.

Additionally, as further proof that Teflon Don is willfully flaunting the law is the fact that Judge Graham was presented with a motion specifically requesting a due process hearing with respect to the sua sponte issued prefiling injunction of September 20, 2001 on 23, 2002. See Document 914, pgs. 19-24. At page 1, this motion asserts: “The injunction violated Mason’s well-established due process rights. It is inexcusable that a federal judge would knowingly issue this type of injunction in violation of Mason’s due process rights.” On January 31, 2003, Judge Graham denied the motion and refused to comply with Mason’s due process requests even though Judge Graham was in possession of a motion citing the same cases that are cited on this post.

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Plaintiff’s Motion to Disqualify, Plaintiff’s Demand to Rescind Inunction and Plaintiff’s Motion for Publication (D.E. #914) is DENIED.

Document No. 928. It can not be argued that Judge is not intentionally disrespecting the law.

Award of Attorney’s Fees Based On “Bad Faith Finding” And Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

Judge Graham’s order, sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, 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 Report And Recommendation, Docket Entry No. 882, and Order Adopting Report and Recommendation, Docket Entry No. 891 . As stated previously by the District Court and by this Court herein, Judge Graham has already made a finding of bad faith. This takes the case beyond the analysis of frivolity. See pg. 4.

Christiansburg Garment Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 434 U.S. 412 (1978). Here, it is clear that based upon Judge Graham’s previous findings of bad faith, that the Christiansburg standard is applicable. See pg. 3.  When the case was dismissed on June 20, 2001 Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. expressly stated that the lawsuit was not frivolous. “However, there remain, as this Court recommended, various viable claims for trial.” See Report and Recommendation, (D.E #766, pg. 5), and Order Adopting R&R, (D.E. 791).

PROOF JUDGE GRAHAM KNEW THE LAW AND SIMPLY IGNORED IT

After Judge Graham, rendered the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001, Mason filed a motion demanding his due process rights on September 7, 2002. At pages 10, 11, this motion informs Judge Graham of due process rights with respect to pre-filing injunctions.

Prior to issuing this illegal injunction, this court failed to give Mason the required constitutional notice. See Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351, 354(10th Cir. 1989)(litigant “is entitled to notice and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order before it is instituted”); In re Oliver, 682 F.2d 443, 445 (3d Cir. 1982); Matter Of Hartford Textile Corp., 681 F.2d 895,896 (2nd Cir. 1982); Werner v. State Of Utah, 32 F.3d 1446, 1448 (10th Cir. 1994); Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027, 1038 (3rd Cir. 1993); Cok v. Family Court Of Rhode Island, 985 F.2d 32, 35 (1st Cir. 1993).

However, on January 23, 2003, Judge Graham simply states:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Plaintiff’s Motion to Disqualify, Plaintiff’s Demand to Rescind Inunction and Plaintiff’s Motion for Publication (D.E. #914) is DENIED.

See Docket Entry No. 928.

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