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

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,, 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 The answer is the allegations will be simply be ignored by deploying an unpublished opinion that omits material facts.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 The overwhelming majority of opinions coming out of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are unpublished opinions which until recently could not be cited as binding authority. The evidence presented here will prove beyond a resonable doubt that staff attorneys, using unpublished opinions, do in fact decide cases, especially mere pro se cases or appeals.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:

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7 Responses to “Do Staff Attorneys Decide Appeals At The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals?”

  1. Janet McDonald Says:

    The August 2008 Opinion by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 07-13540-BB will effect disabled and minorities in all future cases brought in Federal Courts.

    A prima facie case with undisputed documentation was brought before the Federal Courts by a fifty-eight year old disabled adult male (unrelated to the case filed he was hit by a car in a crosswalk December 13, 1990 causing multiple disabilities, two (2) 100% Federally recognized disabilities), and receiving Supplemental Security Income, for Civil and Constitutional Rights violations:
    42 U.S.C. §1988 (proceeding in vindication of civil rights), 42 U.S.C. §1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights) for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Due process and equal protection), 42 U.S.C. §1983 and 1985(3) (conspiracy to interfere with civil rights), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (refusing or neglecting to prevent), and other Civil and Constitutional Rights violations

    The Courts granted Eleventh Amendment Immunity to all Defendants:
    State of Georgia, Ga. Dept. Human Resources, DeKalb County, DeKalb Dept. Family and Children Services, DeKalb Fire Dept. Captain Hughett, EMS Dennis Carlock, Stone Mountain Police Officer Porter, Probate Clerk/Judge Pro Temp Jeryl Rosh, DeKalb County Probate Court, Superior Court of Ga. Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, and DeKalb Solicitor’s Office.

    The Courts also tried to claim statute of limitations although there should have been a tolling, the causes are continuing, and many of the allegations are well within the limitations period. State Court and Solicitor’s Office failed to answer the complaint, but according to the Eleventh Circuit, the allegations were timed barred, so they didn’t have to file a responsive pleading.

    Probate Clerk Jeryl Rosh June 2002, presided over an illegal hearing at which Rosh declared the disabled individual guilty of criminal acts (there are no records are transcripts of the hearing). Probate Courts are limited jurisdiction Courts and have no jurisdiction over criminal matters, and Pro Temp Judges cannot preside over contested matters; she then impersonated a judge signing the Order as “Judge of the Probate Court” and had the file sealed to keep from public view.

    The disabled male has never been investigated by the District Attorney or his Office (confirmed through DeKalb D.A.’s Office), he has never been charged, arrested, or convicted of any crime; and has spent the past several years attempting to clear his name of the criminal label cast upon him by a Probate Clerk impersonating a Judge. When preparing to Appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, the disabled adult male filed Motion to Proceed on Appeal in Forma Pauperis, both Courts denied the Motion under The Prison Litigation Reform Act knowing the individual has never been charged, arrested or convicted of any crime and is not in prison.
    After being denied all legal aid and protection guaranteed by both The United States and State of Georgia, the disabled individual filed a case in Federal Court as a pro se litigant citing the Health and Welfare Act which removes Eleventh Amendment Immunity.
    All current and ongoing violations by the Probate Court have been ignored, refusals by Probate and Superior Courts to allow Appeals to be filed, Judicial Immunity and Eleventh Amendment Immunity granted to Rosh for illegal acts and acts by the Clerk Rosh.
    The Courts have said that Probate Court, State Court and the Solicitor’s Office are an arm of the State against Georgia’s Constitution and The Georgia Courts Authority which clearly state that they are County entities and all fail the four prong test for that determination.

  2. SY WONG Says:

    This also occur at California Superior court, probate, level. Court attorney appoints PVP attorney on May 8, 2007 for an 82-year old woman living with spouse, upon a mere fax from a probate attorney the day before. The judge’s rubber stamp was used initialed by court attorney. Petitition for conservatorship, case LP012785 was filed 10 days later. Because of this violation of probate code investigation and notification requirements, and PVP attorney acted in his own financial interest to bill the estate for rest of life of conservatee, that caused conservatee estate about a million in court ordered payments and attorney fees to free husband and wife from persecution by 3 probate judges. Case has been to appellate court 4 times, State supreme court twice, US Supreme court once with no end in sight. Now she is under collatoral estoppel by the third judge, same on in criminal misdemeaner court decided not to retry Britney Spear case.
    Conservatee has been confined against her will for 2 years, the last 8 months in secret place. ACLU called this abduction under color of law.

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  7. Mindy Jaye Zied-Campbell Says:

    I absolutley believe that Staff Attorneys do decide cases submitted by pro se litigants, (especially in my case(s) in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals). I had a case manager from the USCA 3rd Circuit actually go through my documents and read my medical files. I know this because one time when I needed procedural help, and I spoke to her on the phone indicating that I had dropped off something at the District Court (which is 19 floors below the Appellate Court) she said something to the effect of: “I thought you couldn’t leave the house”, which pre-empted me to go through all of my documents to see where she could have gotten that from. Then, it is my belief from instances to come that she along with the Assistant United States Attorney who is the attorney on the other side conspired to have all the appeals thrown out. See Zied-Campbell, v. Commonwealth of Pa, USDC ED PA 2:11-cv-07544, oh yeah, that is the case that just got dismissed (I guess because I attached too much evidence to it) See also Zied-Campbell v. Richman, USDC MD PA Case #04-cv-0026

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