Posts Tagged ‘“ABA”’

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Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision.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.

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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).

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)).

FEDERAL JUDGE VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT, TENTH AMENDMENT RECEIVES ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

May 8, 2008

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

Purpose of This Post

In order to preclude the haters and defenders of the status quo from their seemingly religious fervor for judicial independence, the purpose of this post is not to argue that U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don” did not have “absolute immunity” or “judicial immunity” for the prohibited acts described here. On the contrary, it is to show the American public what federal judges can receive immunity for. This post will demonstrate that a judge can act like a bull in a china shop with respect to the constitution and well established law and still escape accountability. Additionally, this post will document the Eleventh Circuit’s affinity for deploying unpublished opinions that deliberately omit material facts in order to achieve the desired outcome. The Eleventh Circuit lacks testicular fortitude and the courage of its beliefs because it adamantly refuses to state the acts that Judge Graham was given absolute immunity for. If Teflon Don has really has immunity, then why won’t his enablers state what he is immune from? Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, does not consider a federal judge’s willful disdain and contempt for the Constitution of the United States and well established law to be misconduct within the meaning of the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act. Lastly, the American Bar Association, “ABA”, has asked the American public to drink its Jim Jones type koolaid and their dogmatic mantra of “judicial independence”. This post will demonstrate the dangers of “judicial independence” versus public scrutiny and accountability.

See if you can tell, by reading the opinion only, what Judge Graham is given immunity from.

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT’S OPINION

Case No. No. 02-13418, Unpublished Opinion by Judge Ed Carnes, Judge Charles R. Wilson, and Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch.

The following represents the only discussion in the entire Opinion as to why Judge Graham and his Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. have absolute immunity.

Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Mason, we find that he fails to state a cognizable First Amendment claim against Judges Graham and Lynch that would entitle him to relief under § 1983, § 1985 or § 1986. Moreover, judges are entitled to absolute judicial immunity for all acts undertaken in their official capacity unless they acted in “clear absence of all jurisdiction.” See Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2000). Neither party disputes that the alleged constitutional violations arose out of actions taken by Judges Graham and Lynch in their official capacities. While Mason alleges that the orders issued by both judges were “illegal and void ab initio” he fails to plead any facts that show that the judges did not act within their legitimate jurisdiction. Therefore, absolute judicial immunity precludes § 1983, § 1985 and § 1986 claims against Lynch and Graham.

See Opinion, pgs. 4,5. This is a mere conclusory statement that all courts routinely reject from litigants. Additionally, this opinion is blatantly dishonest in that deliberately mischaracterizes Mason’s legal arguments for the nefarious purpose of achieving the desired outcome. See Appellant’s Initial Brief pgs. 26-34, for an accurate characteriztion. In the words of the former United States Senator Robert Dole: “Eleventh Circuit quit distorting my record!”. The apparent holding of this opinion is that a federal judge can acquire a case number and set about making up any kind of sh&&### he wants and still be the beneficiary of absolute immunity.

What Judge Graham Was Sued For

Judge Graham was sued in District Court Case No. 02-14049-CV-KMM, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418 for orders he issued in Dist. Ct. Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham, Marcellus Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al. Heartland Library Cooperative and Highlands County Board of County Commissioners are local governments. Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., issued the following orders or injunctions prohibiting direct communication with the government under the guise of “judicial authority”.


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). See Complaint, Pg. 16, ¶150.

The lawsuit, Case No. 02-14049-CV-KMM, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418, asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. §§1983,1985,1986 for issuing the above orders in Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. See Complaint, Pg. 16, ¶150. The legality or illegality of these injunctions are central to the lawsuit. According to the Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, Test Masters Educational Services, Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559, 579 (Fed. 5th Cir., 2005) an order that an order enjoined a litigant “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” constituted an invalid prior restraint and a unconstitutional limitation on free speech. In this case the order went even further as it attempted prohibit direct communication with the government and to place restrictions how Mason accessed Public Records under Florida Law.

A United States Circuit Judge on the Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

It was 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 judges are 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 en banc court.

Links To Briefs and Opinions

  • Opinion
  • Appellant’s Initial Brief
  • Appellant’s Reply Brief.
  • Judge Graham’s Appellees’ Brief. Prepared by AUSA Kathleen M. Salyer
  • Complaint. An html version of the original complaint.
  • Trial Court’s Opinion, Report and Recommendation, R&R, Docket # 52, authored by Magistrate John J. O’Sullivan, adopted by the District Court, Docket # 56. The R&R by Judge O’Sullivan is a scathing personal attack on Marcellus Mason that uses six of the seven total pages for that purpose. These six pages have nothing to do with why the lawsuit was filed. At the risk of straying off point, this R&R is a must read for three reasons. Firstly, it is blatantly dishonest because it mischaracterizes the nature of the complaint and is very evasive. Secondly, it points up why judges can not be trusted to police themselves. It relies heavily on a clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Case Law. Is a Magistrate Judge, an inferior judge, that lacks Article III protections going to recommend that a superior District Judge be held liable in a lawsuit?

SHORT CASE SUMMARY

District Court Case No. 02-14049-CV-Moore
This lawsuit was filed against Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. and is directly related to another lawsuit, Case No., 99-14027, Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners,et.al. This lawsuit expressly demanded “judgement against Lynch and Graham in the form of injunctive and declaratory relief and any other lawful relief. MASON further demands trial by jury.” See Complaint, Pg. 16, ¶150. This lawsuit asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. §§1983,1985,1986 for issuing the following orders in Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch:


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).

Incidentally, though not the point of this post, the Eleventh Circuit has fought tooth and nail to avoid reviewing these orders for validity on multiple occasions. See this site, post “Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity“.

District Court Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch

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.

PREEMINENCE OF FLORIDA SUPREME COURT INTERPRETING FLORIDA LAW

Federal Courts are bound by the highest state court’s interpretation of its laws. The Supreme Court of the United States has said neither it “nor any other federal tribunal has any authority to place a construction on a state statute different from the one rendered by the highest court of the state.” Johnson v. Fankell (96-292), 520 U.S. 911 (1997). “Except in matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by Acts of Congress, the law to be applied in any case is the law of the State. And whether the law of the State shall be declared by its Legislature in a statute or by its highest court in a decision is not a matter of federal concern.” Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938).

ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

“As a class, judges have long enjoyed a comparatively sweeping form of immunity, though one not perfectly well defined.” Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 226 (1988). A long line of Supreme Court “precedents acknowledges that, generally, a judge is immune from a suit for money damages.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 10 (1991). “[I]mmunity is overcome in only two sets of circumstances. First, a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge’s judicial capacity. Second, a judge is not immune for actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.” Id. at Pg. 12. “The proponent of a claim to absolute immunity bears the burden of establishing the justification for such immunity.” Antoine v. Byers & Anderson, Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 432 (1993).

Judge Graham does not have absolute for two reasons. Firstly, Judge Graham acted in clear violation of all jurisdiction. “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. See Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 335, 351 (1871)(“when the want of jurisdiction is known to the judge, no excuse is permissible“); Turner v. Raynes, 611 F.2d 92, 95 (5th Cir. 1980) (Stump is consistent with the view that “a clearly inordinate [**13] exercise of unconferred jurisdiction by a judge-one so crass as to estab-lish that he embarked on it either knowingly or recklessly-subjects him to personal liability”).”
Rankin v. Howard, 633 F.2d 844, 849; 1980 U.S. App. LEXIS 11690, *12-13 (9th Cir. 1980).

The acts which formed the basis of the lawsuit were not judicial in nature.

The Acts Were Legislative Not Judicial

Judges have immunity for judicial acts only. “[J]udges do not receive immunity when acting in administrative, legislative, or executive roles.” Barrett v. Harrington, 130 F.3d 246 (6th Cir. 1997)(citing Forrester v. White 484 U.S. 219, 229-30). Judges do not have immunity for legislative acts. In Tober v. Sanchez, 417 So.2d 1053, 1055 (Fla. App. Dist. 3 1982) succinctly and aptly stated: “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 persons, 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 Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., 446 U.S. 719, (1980), the U.S. Supreme Court held that is rulemaking a legislative act where as here Judge Graham propounded a rule which did or does not exist. Judge Graham has stated:

Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records. (DE #246). This act is allowed by the First Amendment, the Florida Statutes, and the Florida Constitution. “The right to petition government for redress of grievances — in both judicial and administrative forums — is ‘`among the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights.’ Because of its central importance, this right is ‘substantive rather than procedural and therefore cannot be obstructed, regardless of the procedural means applied.’” Graham v. Henderson, 89 F.3d 75 (2nd Cir. 1996) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Illinois State Bar Ass’n, 389 U.S. 217, 222 (1967)). Consequently, Judge Graham has to legislate his act.

Judge Graham has decreed: Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records. (DE #246). The Florida Constitution does not require a person to seek the permission of anyone to request public records much less private attorneys. “Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state,..” Florida Const. Article I, Section 24. The Florida Courts have repeatedly held that policy-making and rule-making with respect to the Florida Public Records Act is the exclusive domain of the Florida Legislature. See Housing Authority v. Gomillion, 639 So.2d 117, 122 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 1994)(“Any change, exemption, or modification must, of necessity, come from the legislature.”); Tribune Co. v. Public Records, 493 So.2d 480, 483 (Fla.App. 2 Dist.1986)(“And only the legislature can create such an exemption, not the court or custodian.”); Barfield v. Ft. Lauderdale Police, 639 So.2d 1012, 1014 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1994)(“If the common law privileges are to be included as exemptions, it is up to the legislature, and not this Court, to amend the statute.”); Tampa Television, Inc. v. Dugger, 559 So.2d 397, 398 n.5 (Fla.App. 1 Dist.1990)(“[T]he Public Records Act, excludes any judicially created privilege of confidentiality and exempts from public disclosure only those public records that are provided by statutory law to be confidential or which are expressly exempted by general or special law.”) . According to the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Public Records Act creates substantive right that only be restricted by the Florida legislature.

“”While Henderson is certainly correct that chapter 119 grants a substantive right to Florida citizens, the legislature also has the prerogative to place reasonable restrictions on that right.

Henderson v. State, 745 So.2d 319 (Fla. 1999). Florida Courts have repeatedly hat 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?

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.

Clear Absence of Jurisdiction

Lack of Jurisdiction

Judge Graham lacked jurisdiction because the Defendants, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners lacked standing. The Defendants, a government agency, asked for an “preliminary injunction” not to be communicated with directly. ““Defendants, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners … hereby moves the Court for an Injunction prohibiting the Plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, from contacting directly,’ via correspondence, electronic mail, telephonically, or otherwise, any supervisor or employee of any of the Defendants in the above-styled litigation.”Docket Entry 199. This is an absurd proposition on its face. The Supreme Court has said that in order “to satisfy Article III’s standing requirements, a plaintiff must show (1) it has suffered an “injury in fact” that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc.,528 U.S. 167 (2000). The Defendants only claimed injury is:

The tone of Plaintiff’s letters, memorandums, facsimile transmissions, electronic mails, etc., are harassing in nature and are designed to interfere with the legal processes to which Plaintiff has subjected himself through electing to utilize the jurisdiction of this Court.

Judge Graham was without subject matter jurisdiction to restrict, impede, obstruct, or administer the Florida Public Records Act. “Subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s authority to decide the issue in controversy such as a contracts issue, or a civil rights issue. “Where there is clearly no jurisdiction over the subject matter, any authority exercised is a usurped authority, and, for the exercise of such authority when the want of jurisdiction is known to the judge, no excuse is permissible.Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 n.6 (1978). State courts have general jurisdiction, meaning that they can hear any controversy except those prohibited by state law..” URL: http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Jurisdiction
Along this same line, the Supreme Court in Stump at 435 U. S. 358 looked to the statutes and case law to see if the act in question (sterilization) been expressly prohibited. This is a common sense that a judge should not ble to claim immunity for act that is expressly prohibited by law. Neither, the constitution nor any statute gives a federal court jurisdiction with respect to Florida Public Records. “Courts created by statute only have such jurisdiction as the statute confers.” Christianson v. Colt Industries Operating Corp.,486 U.S. 800, 820 (1988). “The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not create federal jurisdiction.In re Infant Formula Antitrust Litigation, MDL 878 v. Abbott Laboratories, 72 F. 3d 842, 843 (11th Cir. 1995)(citing Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 368-370 & n. 7, 98 S.Ct. 2396, 2400 &n. 7, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978)). See also Smith v. GTE Corp., 236 F.3d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 2001) (“Lower federal courts can exercise this power only over cases for which there has been a congressional grant of jurisdiction”). In fact the constitution expressly forbids any such notion. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution. Apparently, realizing that there is a jurisdictional problem, along with a violation 28 U.S. § 636(b)(1)(a), the Magistrate attempts to invoke jurisdiction by asserting: “and noting that this Court is considering this issue as a pretrial discovery issue and not an injunction issue per se…” Assuming without arguing that may issue an injunction, a district court can not invoke jurisdiction by asserting the Federal Rules Civil Procedure.

Judge Graham’s order necessarily suggests that because Mason filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in federal court, Judge Graham now has the authority to place restrictions how Mason access Florida Public Records. The Florida Supreme Court has heard this argument and rejected it out of hand.

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.

Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420, 424 (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…” Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420 (Fla. 1979).

Implicit And Explicit Conclusions of Law

In order for Judge Graham and his Magistrate to have absolute immunity or judicial immunity, each of the following conclusions must necessarily be true.

  • The fling of lawsuit in federal court creates a right for the Highlands County Government not to be communicated with directly by a pro se litigant opposing party. Stately, alternatively, a plaintiff loses his right to communicate directly with the government when he or she sues the government.
  • Federal Judges, applying some unknown Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, can obliterate substantive rights guaranteed by a state and the Constitution of the United States.
  • Federal Judges may make mere conclusory statements.
  • Federal Courts need not say what the Judge is being given immunity for.
  • The filing of lawsuit gives a federal judge the right to obstruct the right to petition the government.
  • The filing of a lawsuit in federal court is grant of jurisdiction with respect to the Florida Public Records Act, Fla.Stat.,§ 119.01.
  • A federal judge may receive absolute immunity for what the State of Florida considers a legislative act.
  • Federal Courts are not required to discuss why injunctive and declaratory relief are not warranted even though the remedy is expressly asserted in a complaint.

Judicial Misconduct

Chief Judge J. L. Edmondson has expressly denied that the act of usurping authority in violation of clearly established law is not judicial misconduct pursuant to the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act 28 U.S.C. §351, et.al. See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct Case No. 05-0008.