Posts Tagged ‘beyond the scope of appeal’

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Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision.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

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 Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Foreword

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

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

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

Judicial Independence

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

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

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


Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal

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

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

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

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

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

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


Case No, 01-15754, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearing Denied

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

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

Rehearing Denied

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


Case No. 01-16218

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

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

See Opinion Case No. 01-16218.


Case No. 02-11476-A

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

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

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


Case No. 02-14646, Mandamus

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

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


Case No. 04-11894, Mandamus

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

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

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

At page 3, the Court asserts:

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

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


Case No. 05-10623-I, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

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

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


.

Pre-filing Restrictions

1. Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason is Permanently enjoined

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

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

See Docket Entry No. 878.

Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal!

May 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

The Purpose of this post is to set forth yet another extreme measure that the Eleventh Circuit deployed in order to conceal and shield U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham from public rebuke and scrutiny. The law clerks or staff attorneys who decide cases at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals are making a joke and a mockery of our legal system. This posting discusses a single element of the Eleventh Circuit’s, U. S. Court Appeal Case No. 01-13664-A, an unpublished opinion. This is appeal has been described as: Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell. This appeal, Case No. 01-13664-A, is loaded with the stench of dishonesty and lawlessness; however, this post will only analyze the single issue of jurisdiction of the lower court, trial court, or district court during the appeal. This posting will show that the Eleventh Circuit used an unpublished opinion to get the desired outcome, affirming Judge Graham, notwithstanding the law and the facts. The Eleventh Circuit took for itself the right to maintain two irreconcilable, inconsistent, and illogical legal positions. First it rightly claimed that an order, pre-filing injunction, rendered on September 20, 2001, Doc. 878, or three months after the notice of appeal was filed on June 25, 2001 was beyond the scope of appeal . See post, “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal“. Secondly, the inconsistency arose when the Eleventh Circuit rendered its opinion in October 2002, it then used the very same pre-filing injunction, rendered on September 20, 2001 that it claimed was beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. The Eleventh Circuit had it both ways. The reason for this inconsistency is that the Eleventh Circuit badly needed this order included in order to make a finding pursuant to Rule 41(b), Federal Rules Civil Procedure.

The icing on the cake and even worse and more dishonest than the taking of two inconsistent legal positions is the fact that the pre-filing injunction, rendered on September 20, 2001, Doc. 878, is actually illegal. At page 3 of the pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001, Doc. 878, it expressly states: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. ” Sua Sponte issued pre-filing injunctions, or pre-filing injunctions issued without notice and opportunity to respond are routinely rejected as a matter of course. Pre-filing injunctions implicate the right of access to the courts, even Teflon Don recognizes this fact. See pg. 7, Doc. 878, (“This screening requirement best balances the interest in constitutionally mandated access to the federal courts with the need to protect the Court’s jurisdiction and integrity.“). Judge Graham is expressly rejecting the authority of the United States Supreme Court who has said on multiple occasions that the right of access to the courts is constitutionally protected and requires due process before that right is abridged or restrained in any manner.

Recap

The Eleventh Circuit, using the device of an unpublished opinion, did the following:

  1. It declared the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 beyond the scope of appeal and struck Mason’s appellate brief because of it in March 2002. See post, “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal“.
  2. On October 16, 2002, when the Eleventh Circuit rendered its unpublished opinion, it then included the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 in its decision.
  3. The Eleventh Circuit used a clearly invalid sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction to justify its goal of affirming Judge Graham.

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

“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.

The Opinion

The Eleventh Circuit rendered its opinion in Case No. 01-13664 on October 16, 2002. The Opinion makes the following “finding”:

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

See Opinion, pgs. 13-14.

This finding is a direct reference to a pre-filing injunction or vexatious litigant injunction rendered by Judge Graham on September 20, 2001. See below.

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason is Permanently enjoined
from filing any additional pleadings in case numbers 99-14027- CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14116-CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14201-CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14202- CIV-GRAHAM, 00-14240-CIV-GRAHAM, 01-14074-CIV-GRAHAM, 01-14078- CIV-GRAHAM, and 01-14230-CIV-GRAHAM or from filing any new lawsuit which relates in any way to Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason’s former employment and/or subsequent interactions with Defendants without first receiving permission from the Court, as set forth below. This injunction shall apply equally to any persons or entities acting at the behest, direction, or instigation, or in concert with Marcellus M. Mason.

See Doc. 878, pg. 8.

Law On Jurisdiction During Appeal

According to the published decisions of the Eleventh Circuit: “It is the general rule of this Circuit that the filing of a timely and sufficient notice of appeal acts to divest the trial court of jurisdiction over the matters at issue in the appeal, except to the extent that the trial court must act in aid of the appeal.” SHEWCHUN v. United States, 797 F.2d 941 (11th Cir. 1986). “It is well-settled law that the filing of a notice of appeal divests the district court of jurisdiction over a case.” WEAVER v. FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT COMPANY, 172 F.3d 771,(11th Cir. 1999)(citing Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58, 103 S.Ct. 400, 402, 74 L.Ed.2d 225 (1982)). “The general rule regarding divestiture of jurisdiction, however, does not apply to collateral matters not affecting the questions presented on appeal.” id.

“The district court’s exercise of jurisdiction should not “materially alter the status of the case on appeal.” Mayweathers v. Newland , 258 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2001).

Given the above definition, if the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, Doc. 878, is involved in the appeal then Judge Graham would not have jurisdiction to enter an order pertaining to “questions presented on appeal”. At pages 13, 14, of the opinion the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction was clearly involved in the appeal as it used to justify a dismissal of the case under Rule 41(b), Fed.R.Civ.P.; Consequently, Judge Graham was without jurisdiction to render the order. You can’t on the one hand argue that an order, the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 is a “collateral issue” and beyond the scope of appeal on March 6, 2002, and then turnaround on October 16, 2002 and include the very same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 to affirm Judge Graham. Incidentally, as documented below the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 is clearly invalid.

Subsequent Decisions are Equally Dishonest

A petition for mandamus was filed on or about April 19, 2004. On May 20, 2004, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

In Mason’s case, he filed a notice of appeal as to the dismissal of his civil case. The September 20, 2001 order did not relate to the issue on appeal, but instead enjoined Mason from filing any further pleadings in the district court without permission. Because the order related to collateral issues, the district court had jurisdiction to issue it.

How can an issue, the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001, be a “collateral issue” and used in the opinion at the same time? If it is a
“collateral issue” then how it an integral part of the appeal and the opinion at the same time as demonstrated above?
See Opinion Case No. 04-11894. Incredibly, this “opinion” makes the following admission:

This Court granted, in part, the appellees’ motion to strike Mason’s brief, holding that the portions of the brief that related to the September 20, 2001 order were beyond the scope of appeal.

This type of dishonesty simply cannot be tolerated in a free society as it is offensive and insulting.

Quick Facts

This appeal was docketed under Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664. The Notice of Appeal was filed on June 27, 2001. See Docket No. 795. This was an appeal from a Rule 41(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. dismissal by Judge Graham in district court Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, failed to make the explicit finding that “lesser sanctions would not suffice“. Incidentally, Judge Graham’s colleague at the S.D. Fla., failed to make the same finding that “lesser sanctions would not suffice” but was reversed by the Eleventh Circuit. See posting this site, “Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal

On June 20, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:
[I]t is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED…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.” See Docket Entry No. 201

On July 25, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED… Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” See Docket Entry No. 246.

Highlands County asked and got Judge Graham to dismiss a lawsuit because of alleged violations of these orders, which Mason contended on appeal, were illegal. (For a completely different story and more dishonesty see how the Eleventh Circuit was willing to discuss Mason’s alleged violations of these orders while steadfastly refusing to review these very orders for validity, see posts, “Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity” and “A Federal Magistrate May Issue An Injunction So Long As He Does Not Call it An Injunction ” Highlands County filed two motions for sanctions in the form of dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Docket Entry Nos. 511 and 646. These motions depicted out of court communications between Highlands County and the Plaintiff, Marcellus Mason. Judge Graham and his Magistrate granted these motions and dismissed the case on June 20, 2001. See Docket Entry Nos. 766 an and 791.
The following alleged out of court lawful communications were used to dismiss the lawsuit.

  • “They claimed that, during the week of 5 February 2001, Mason had demanded to view his personnel file from Highlands County’s Human Resource Director Fred Carino, a named defendant in the case.” See Opinion, pg. 4.
  • They stated that, on 13 and 14 February 2001, Mason also appeared at Carino’s office and demanded to view the billing records for Highlands County’s attorney and Highlands County’s liability insurance documents. See Opinion, pgs. 4-5.
  • They attached a copy of an e-mail apparently sent by Mason in which he explained that he would file a criminal complaint against Carino if he was denied any requested documents and expressed his belief that the county had “waived” its rights under the Orders as a result of Carino’s conversations with Mason and letter. See Opinion, pg. 5.
  • On 6 April 2001, Heartland again moved for sanctions in the form of dismissal because Mason had “repeatedly personally contacted [by e-mail] supervisory employees and/or individual Defendants” in the case since the magistrate judge’s 27 March order. See Opinion, pg. 6.

Legal Requirements For a Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) Dismissal

The Eleventh Circuit “has clearly stated that because dismissal is considered a drastic sanction, a district court may only implement it, as a last resort, when: (1) a party engages in a clear pattern of delay or willful contempt (contumacious conduct); and (2) the district court specifically finds that lesser sanctions would not suffice.” World Thrust Films v. International Family Entertainment, 41 F. 3d 1454 (11th Cir. 1995). “A district court has authority under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(b) to dismiss actions for failure to comply with local rules.” id..

Although we occasionally have found implicit in an order the conclusion that “lesser sanctions would not suffice’, we have never suggested that the district court need not make that finding, which is essential before a party can be penalized for his attorney’s misconduct.” Mingo v. Sugar Cane Growers Co-op of Florida, 864 F.2d 101, 102 (11th Cir.1989) (citations omitted). This court has only inferred such a finding “where lesser sanctions would have “greatly prejudiced’ defendants.

——————–SCOPE OF APPEAL LINE JUNE 25, 2001——————————-

—————–BEYOND THE SCOPE OF APPEAL LINE JUNE 26,2001———————–

=====================================================================

Beyond the Scope of Appeal

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction sua sponte, or own his motion and without notice and opportunity to respond which is a violation of due process. Docket No. 878. The validity of this sua sponte pre-filing injunction is not the point of this posting, however ample case law against its validity is set forth in http://mmason.freeshell.org/SuaSponte.htm#caselaw.

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Orders Issued Inconsistent With Due Process Are Void

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

Supreme Court’s Emphasis on Due Process

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

Case Law Against

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).

U.S. Dist. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas Reversed While Colleague Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed by Killing The Appeal

May 1, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. are reversed. This is the third of three posting on this site where this has happened. Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley met a similar fate. 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“, and “Judge Graham Disagrees With The Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals”. 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.

U.S. Dist. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was reversed on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit for Imposition of Sanctions beyond the litigant’s ability to pay. During the same time period, Judge Dimitrouleas’ colleague, U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, awarded $200,000 in attorneys’ fees against an indigent who was proceeding in forma pauperis but was nevertheless affirmed on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Graham was affirmed by what can only be described as a very pernicious act in that the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Judge Graham by denying the indigent litigant the right to an appeal the mammoth award of $200,000 in forma pauperis. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit had to take the following extreme measures to keep from reversing “Teflon Don” in the underlying merits appeal, Case No. 01-13664:

  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review for validity the very orders that were used by Judge Graham to justify dismissal of the case under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). See Documents Nos. 201 and 246. The Eleventh Circuit was quite willing to discuss violations of these orders, but not their validity. See Post, “Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity
  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review the issue as to whether or not Judge Graham should have disqualified or not. See post,”Are Allegations of Misconduct Reviewable on Appeal?
  • The Eleventh Circuit struck Mason the Appellant/Plaintiff’s brief for arguing an order that it deemed beyond the scope of appeal and then turned around used the very same order to affirm Judge Graham. “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal”

    The On Law Imposing Sanctions Beyond Litigant’s Ability to Pay

    Attorneys fees awards may not bankrupt a party. “A court should refrain from imposing a monetary award so great that it will bankrupt the offending parties or force them from the future practice of law.Baker v. Alderman, 158 F.3d 516 (C.A.11 (Fla.), 1998).

    Sanction orders must not involve amounts that are so large that they seem to fly in the face of common sense, given the financial circumstances of the party being sanctioned. What cannot be done must not be ordered to be done. And, sanctions must never be hollow gestures; their bite must be real. For the bite to be real, it has to be a sum that the person might actually pay. A sanction which a party clearly cannot pay does not vindicate the court’s authority because it neither punishes nor deters. MARTIN v. AUTOMOBILI LAMBORGHINI EXCLUSIVE, INC., 307 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2002).

    Judge Dimitrouleas

    In Martin v. AUTOMOBILI LAMBORGHINI EXCLUSIVE, INC., Judge Dimitrouleas had his decision to award sanctions against litigants vacated because it was beyond the litigants ability to pay. The court advised that “when exercising its discretion to sanction under its inherent power, a court must take into consideration the financial circumstances of the party being sanctioned.

    Judge Graham Affirmed For An Even More Egregious Violation

    This post will only address the narrow legal point that attorney’s fees can not be awarded if they bankrupt the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff has no ability to pay. The underlying merits of the lawsuit is fully discussed at the Attorneys’ Fees Webpage. The only legal point being raised here is that the district court can not make such a grotesque award even if a Plaintiff’s lawsuit was totally frivolous, which this clearly was not the case, given the financial insolvency of Mason. Judge Graham knew that Mason was proceeding as an indigent having been awarded in forma pauperis status, “IFP” to initiate the lawsuit. See Docket Entry No. 3. Moreover, it was Judge Graham and his Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., who said: “it does not appear as though the Plaintiff has any financial ability to pay any attorney’s fees which may be assessed against him in this case.Docket Entry No. 882, pgs. 6-7.
    Even more egregious, this award based upon a “bad faith finding” in a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. It is well settled that a “bad find” finding and pre-fling injunctin both require due process or notice and opportunity to respond prior to its according to both the United States Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal. However, Judge Graham has defied both of these courts as it refused to give Mason any notice, see this site’s post “Florida Judge Thumbs His Nose at U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Due Process And Attorneys’ Fees” and “Florida Judge Thumbs His Nose at U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Poor People’s Right to Access The Courts“.

    Eleventh Circuit Sticks In The Knife

    Making this massive award even more pernicious, Judge Charles R. Wilson, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal ruled that it was “frivolous”, without stating why, to appeal this massive award. See this site, post entitled “Judge Wilson Rules Appeal Of Award $200,000 Fees Frivolous“. On October 17, 2002, while denying a motion for clarification, the Eleventh Circuit, for the second time, asserted that it was frivolous to file an appeal of a $200,000 award in attorney’s fees. See Order dtd Oct. 17, 2002. The bottom line is that Mason never got a chance to fight of this judgment.

Eleventh Circuit Disses The U.S. Supreme Court Chooses To Protect Judge Graham

April 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

The U.S. Supreme Court once said: “But unless we wish anarchy to prevail within the federal judicial system, a precedent of this Court must be followed by the lower federal courts no matter how misguided the judges of those courts may think it to be.” Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370 (1982). This post is a yet another perfect example of how the “unpublished” Opinion is used to defy the authority of the United States Supreme Court. What is clear from this post is that if the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court Of Appeal, does not like the facts or the law involved in a case, it will simply make a terse one sentence “opinion” ignoring both the facts and the law. “The “petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.” See “Opinion“, Case No. 01-15754. In this matter, Case No. 01-15754, the Eleventh Circuit declined to honor a petition for mandamus as a notice of appeal and perform meaningful appellate review as required by the U.S. Supreme Court. The petition attacks a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that was rendered on September 20, 2001 and excoriates Judge Graham for his misconduct and mismanagement. It is no wonder that Judge Graham feels that he is above the law and that he is the “Teflon Don”.

In addition, on a parallel track, a direct appeal, Case No. 01-13664, is already pending when Judge Graham renders the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001. The handling of this matter yields even more dishonest and evasive measures.

  • The Eleventh Circuit struck Mason’s appellate brief for arguing against the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001 because they claimed it was “beyond the scope of appeal”. However, when the Eleventh Circuit rendered its opinion affirming Judge Graham it then used the same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction to affirm Judge Graham. See full story of this despicable act at this site, post entitled, “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal
  • The Eleventh Circuit refused to test the allegations of misconduct leveled at Judge Graham for veracity, even though admittedly fully briefed, it declines to review the issue of whether or not Judge Graham abused his discretion by failing to disqualify. See full story, this site, post entitled, “Are Allegations of Misconduct Reviewable on Appeal?

The Eleventh Circuit had to make a choice. It could save Judge Graham from his record, or it could follow binding precedent as set forth by the United States Supreme Court. It chose to save Judge Graham from the consequences of his own misbehavior and hubris. Is the Eleventh Circuit free to ignore the edicts of the United States Supreme Court?

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

“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

United States Supreme Court

A document intended to serve as an appellate brief may qualify as the notice of appeal required by Rule 3. So long as such a document is filed within the time allowed by Rule 4 for a notice of appeal and satisfies Rule 3(c)’s requirements as to the content of such a notice, it may be treated as the “functional equivalent” of the formal notice demanded by Rule 3.” SMITH v. BARRY ET AL. 502 U.S. 244 (1992) (Syllabus). See also Eleventh Circuit’s Finch v. Vernon, 845 F. 2d 256, 259-260 (11th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Rogers, 788 F.2d 1472, 1475 (11th Cir.1986) (notice of appeal requirement is satisfied by any statement clearly evincing the party’s intent to appeal); Yates v. Mobile County Personnel Board, 658 F.2d 298, 299 (5th Cir. Unit B Oct. 1981) (“A petition for mandamus filed in this court, however, may also satisfy the notice of appeal requirement, especially when the appellant is proceeding pro se … and is thus generally ignorant of procedural rules.”).”).

The Eleventh Circuit received a mandamus petition that was docketed as being received on October 2, 2001. See Receipt. This is a 25 page petition plus exhibits. Microsoft Word Format, html format, and pdf format. According to the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit’s own binding precedents, this mandamus petition should have been treated as a notice of appeal.

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.“); Rinaldo v. Corbett, 256 F.3d 1276, 1279-80 (11th Cir.2001)To perform its function a notice of appeal must specify the parties taking the appeal, designate the judgment or order being appealed, and name the court to which the appeal is being taken. Fed. R.App. P. 3(c)(1). That is all.Main Drug, Inc. v. Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 475 F.3d 1228 (11th Cir. 2007).

The Defendant, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, and U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham also received a copy of the mandamus petiton. Judge Graham did not file a brief in opposition to the petition. The Defendant did not file a responsive brief to the petition. The Eleventh Circuit did not require anyone to respond the petition.

Basis of Mandamus or Appeal

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction, sua sponte, against Marcellus Mason. See Document No. 878. This type of order is also referred to as “Vexatious Litigant injunction“, “pre-screening injunction”, and “leave to file injunction”. This order specifically states: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” See Document No. 878, pg. 3. There is a string of U.S. appellate courts and state courts, including Florida and Georgia that have declared sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions issued without notice and opportunity to respond to be invalid. See Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions Section, Judge Graham Disagrees With The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, And DC Circuit Courts Of Appeal.

A mandamus petition was docketed as being received on October 2, 2001 by the Eleventh Circuit. See Receipt. This petition attacks the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001. This petition also excoriates Judge Graham and takes him to task for the following:

  • Graham has usurped the power of law enforcement.
  • Graham has usurped the power of the “Legislature.”
  • Graham improperly interjected himself into matters under the Florida Public Records Act.
  • Grant has allowed significant and material pretrial motions to languish in the Court without making a decision. Petitioner will show that Graham has allowed motions and appeals to go for months without being addressed. Petitioner will show that Graham has granted summary judgments without addressing filings by this Petitioner, which attacks the summary judgment. Graham has repeated refused to rule on the Petitioner’s Motions For Summary Judgment.
  • Graham has had Petitioner’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction to languish in his Court and die on the vine without a ruling on the merits, despite the fact that the motion has been pending since November 24, 1999.
  • Graham has failed to conduct proper “de novo” reviews when required. Graham has effectively undermined the will of Congress by allowing a Magistrate Judge to decide dispositive matters without the express authorization of all the parties. The Magistrate Judge has been granted “de facto” dispositive authority by Graham.
  • Graham has been dishonest in claiming that matters have been litigated when they have not been litigated.
  • On numerous occasions, Graham has exercised judicial authority without explaining the law and the facts that underlie his decisions. In this respect Graham has made a host of arbitrary and capricious decisions.
  • Graham has been guilty of gross mismanagement and malfeasance in every case to which this Petitioner has been a party to.

See Petition For Mandamus, pgs. 3,8-12,18-23.

Is The Eleventh Circuit An Advocate for Judge Graham?

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

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

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

Rehearing Denied

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

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

Rehearing Denied

Personal Responsibility and Integrity of the Judges

On February 6, 2004, Judge Stanley Marcus, Judge Rosemary Barkett, and Judge Susan Black were sent a letter via U.S. certified mail informing them of the legal atrocities in this matter. See Letter. However, all declined to answer or take the appropriate legal action as required by the United States Supreme Court.


“Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal

April 22, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. are reversed. This is the second of two posting on this site where this has happened. Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley met a similar fate. See posting this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“. 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.

U.S. Dist. Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages was reversed on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit for failing to make Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)’s requisite finding that “lesser sanctions would not suffice” while her colleague U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, failed to make the same finding but was affirmed on appeal. In addition to the omission of the requisite finding under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), the Eleventh Circuit had to take the following extreme measures to keep from reversing “Teflon Don”:

  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review for validity the very orders that were used by Judge Graham to justify dismissal of the case under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). See Documents Nos. 201 and 246. The Eleventh Circuit was quite willing to discuss violations of these orders, but not their validity.
  • The Eleventh Circuit explicitly accepted Judge Graham’s thesis that the government, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners had a right not to be communicated with and further that Highlands County Board of Commissioners were prejudiced by lawful communication with it by Mason.
  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review the issue as to whether or not Judge Graham should have disqualified or not.
  • The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham.
  • The Eleventh Circuit struck Mason the Appellant/Plaintiff’s brief for arguing an order that it deemed beyond the scope of appeal and then turned around used the very same order to affirm Judge Graham. “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal”
    For support of these assertions, see “Additional Issues Faced by Judge“, below.

    A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

    “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

    Publication

    The Eleventh Circuit used a published opinion to reverse Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages, World Thrust Films v. International Family Entertainment, 41 F. 3d 1454 (11th Cir. 1995) , Phyllis A. Kravitch,Judge Hatchett, Senior Cir. Judge Clark, while it used a unpublished or non-published opinion to affirm Judge Graham, Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al., Case No. 01-13664, (11th Circuit 2002) , Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Judge Stanley Marcus, and Judge Susan H. Black.

    The Law on Rule 41(b) Dismissals

    The Eleventh Circuit rigidly requires district courts to make findings explaining why lesser sanctions would not suffice. Rhini Cellular, Inc. v. Greenberg, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14266, *15 (11th Cir. 2006). The Eleventh Circuit has consistently vacated and reversed Rule 41(b) dismissals where the district court failed to explicitly make the finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice. See e.g., Turner v. United States, 2006 Fed. Appx. 952 (11th Cir. 2006); Rex v. Monaco Coach, 155 Fed Appx. 485 (11th Cir. 2005); Betty K Agencies, LTD v. M/V Monada, 432 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2006); Ford v. Fogarty Van Lines, 780 F. 2d 1582, 1583 (11th Cir.1986);Tweed v. Florida, 151 Fed. Appx. 856, 857 (11th Cir. 2005).

    The Eleventh Circuit “has clearly stated that because dismissal is considered a drastic sanction, a district court may only implement it, as a last resort, when: (1) a party engages in a clear pattern of delay or willful contempt (contumacious conduct); and (2) the district court specifically finds that lesser sanctions would not suffice.” World Thrust Films v. International Family Entertainment, 41 F. 3d 1454 (11th Cir. 1995). “A district court has authority under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(b) to dismiss actions for failure to comply with local rules.” id..

    Although we occasionally have found implicit in an order the conclusion that “lesser sanctions would not suffice’, we have never suggested that the district court need not make that finding, which is essential before a party can be penalized for his attorney’s misconduct.” Mingo v. Sugar Cane Growers Co-op of Florida, 864 F.2d 101, 102 (11th Cir.1989) (citations omitted). This court has only inferred such a finding “where lesser sanctions would have “greatly prejudiced’ defendants.

    Facts Supporting Rule 41(b) Dismissal

    Judge Graham

    On June 20, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:
    [I]t is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED…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.” See Docket Entry No. 201

    On July 25, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:

    ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED… Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” See Docket Entry No. 246.

    Highlands County asked and got Judge Graham to dismiss a lawsuit because of alleged violations of these orders, which Mason contended on appeal, were illegal. Highlands County filed two motions for sanctions in the form of dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Docket Entry Nos. 511 and 646. These motions depicted out of court communications between Highlands County and the Plaintiff, Marcellus Mason. Judge Graham and his Magistrate granted these motions and dismissed the case on June 20, 2001. See Docket Entry Nos. 766 an and 791.
    The following alleged out of court lawful communications were used to dismiss the lawsuit.

    • “They claimed that, during the week of 5 February 2001, Mason had demanded to view his personnel file from Highlands County’s Human Resource Director Fred Carino, a named defendant in the case.” See Opinion, pg. 4.
    • They stated that, on 13 and 14 February 2001, Mason also appeared at Carino’s office and demanded to view the billing records for Highlands County’s attorney and Highlands County’s liability insurance documents. See Opinion, pgs. 4-5.
    • They attached a copy of an e-mail apparently sent by Mason in which he explained that he would file a criminal complaint against Carino if he was denied any requested documents and expressed his belief that the county had “waived” its rights under the Orders as a result of Carino’s conversations with Mason and letter. See Opinion, pg. 5.
    • On 6 April 2001, Heartland again moved for sanctions in the form of dismissal because Mason had “repeatedly personally contacted [by e-mail] supervisory employees and/or individual Defendants” in the case since the magistrate judge’s 27 March order. See Opinion, pg. 6.

    In this case, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

    “Although the district court did not make an explicit finding that a sanction less than dismissal with prejudice would have sufficed, it is unclear what lesser sanction would have been more appropriate in this situation.”

    There is no mention as to how Highlands County was “greatly prejudiced”, a necessary finding, by lawful out of court communications with it by the Plaintiff Mason. Such a notion would be absurd on its face. In order to make the “implicit finding”, the Eleventh Circuit, used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal and that Mason did not have a chance to oppose. Moreover these documents should not have been a part of the record as both were produced subsequent to the closing of the case on June 20 2001. The Case was closed on June 20, 2001 and the notice of appeal filed on June 25, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. Docket No. 878, a prefiling injunction, was issued sua sponte, on September 20, 2001. Pgs. 13-14 of the Opinion states:

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

    Additionally, Docket Entry No. 900, dtd March 22, 2002, is directly referenced “R19-900-7” and used for justification at pg. 12. “R19-900-7” stands for record volume 19, Document no. 900.
    The Eleventh Circuit admitted that the following were at issue on the appeal:

    Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters,..the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges, and the merits of his complaint.

    See Opinion, pg. 10.

    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.

    Judge Ungaro-Benages

    The case was dismissed because of the following:

    • Plaintiffs violated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 16.1 by failing to timely file a scheduling report.
    • Plaintiffs failed to effect service of process, and file proof thereof

    In this case, the court declined to evaluate the first prong as to whether or not engaged World Thrust in a clear pattern of delay or willful contempt. The court concluded it need not analyze that prong because the district court, Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages failed to make a finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice. The Court stated:

    We need not decide, however, whether the conduct of World Thrust’s lawyers was contumacious because the district court failed to make the necessary finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice in this instance, as required in the second prong of the inquiry.

    Additional Issues Faced by Judge

    Judge Graham faced additional issues on appeal which, anyone of which would have required reversal. However, the Eleventh Circuit simply chose to ignore the following issues on appeal:

    • Judge Graham should have disqualified or recused.
    • Judge Graham issued injunctions that were invalid. Violations of these same orders formed the basis of the Fed.R.Civ.R. 41(b) dismissal. These orders prohibited direct communication by the Plaintiff , Mason with the Highlands County Government. For discussion of these orders, see posting “A Federal Magistrate May Issue An Injunction So Long As He Does Not Call it An Injunction
    • Judge Graham failed to rule on a motion for a preliminary that was pending from November 24, 1999 until the case was closed on June 20, 2001. The opinion does not discuss this issue.
    • Judge Graham mismanaged the case by allowing scores of filings to go undecided.
    • Judge Graham intentionally misrepresented the law. The opinion does not discuss this issue.
    • The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. The Case was closed on June 20, 2001 and the notice of appeal filed on June 25, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. Docket No. 878, a prefiling injunction, was issued sua sponte, on September 20, 2001. Pgs. 13-14 of the Opinion states:

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

      Additionally, Docket Entry No. 900, dtd March 22, 2002, is directly referenced “R19-900-7” and used for justification at pg. 12. “R19-900-7” stands for record volume 19, document no. 900.
      The Eleventh Circuit admitted that the following were at issue on the appeal:

      Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters,..the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges, and the merits of his complaint.

      See Opinion, pg. 10.

      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.

A Federal Magistrate May Issue An Injunction So Long As He Does Not Call it An Injunction

April 21, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham

Who Are the Defendants?

The Defendants in this matter is the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and its employees. The Highlands County Board of County Commissioners is a local government and political subdivision within the state of Florida located in Sebring, FL. The king, “teflon don”, Judge Donald L. Graham is located in Miami, FL about 158 miles from Sebring, FL.

Federal Magistrate May Not Issue an Injunction, 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(a)

(1) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary—
(A) 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 June 20, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:
[I]t is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED…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.” See Docket Entry No. 201

On July 25, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED… Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” See Docket Entry No. 246.

Communications Judge Graham Deemed Unlawful

Judge Graham dismissed a lawsuit because out of court communications. See Report and Recommendation, “R&R”,(DE #766); Order Adopting R&R, (DE #791). Highlands County filed motions for sanctions in the form of dismissal for the following conversations.

During the week of February 5, 2001, Plaintiff knowingly violated this Court’s Orders of June 19, 200 and July 25, 2000. Plaintiff appeared at the office of Fred Carino, Human Resource Director of Highlands County and a supervisory employee of a named defendant in this action, and demanded to view his personnel file. This request was made directly to Mr. Carino’s office and not through Defendant Highlands County’s counsel.

D.E. 511, ¶6, PG.3).

Plaintiff sent e-mail communications directly to supervisory employees of the Defendants, which discussed the “no trespass warnings” that were issued against Plaintiff,...

D.E. 646, ¶10, PG.3). Judge Graham was adamant that Mason not talk to the Highlands County Government. As a matter of fact, three months after the case was closed, Judge Graham said:

[I]ncluding continual attempts to directly communicate with the Defendants rather their attorneys, the Court enjoined Mason from any further contact with the Defendants or Defendants” employees. Mason, however, ignored the Court’s order and continued to contact the Defendants…On June 20, 2001, in view of Mason’s repeated refusal to comply with the Court’s rules and orders, the Court dismissed case number 99-14027.

See Docket No. 878, pgs. 4-5. God damn it, I told you not to talk to the government!

Mere Technicalities

Assuming a federal magistrate may issue an injunction, a mere technical obstacle exists called the First Amendment.

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.

These orders are classical prior restraints on pure speech. “Prior restraint has traditionally been defined as a “predetermined judicial prohibition restraining specified expression … A prior restraint is generally judicial rather than legislative in origin” Bernard v. Gulf Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459,467 (C.A.5 (Tex.), 1980). “Pure speech is “[t]he communication of ideas through spoken or written words or through conduct limited in form to that necessary to convey the idea… Pure speech is accorded the highest degree of protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Based on Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law ©2001. The U.S. Supreme Court has said: “Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.” Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 71 (1963). “[T]the Supreme Court has never upheld a prior restraint, even faced with the competing interest of national security or the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.” Procter & Gamble Co. v. Bankers Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219, 227 (C.A.6 (Ohio), 1996). “In its nearly two centuries of existence, the Supreme Court has never upheld a prior restraint on pure speech.” Providence Journal Co., Matter of, 820 F.2d 1342, 1348 (C.A.1 (R.I.), 1986)

Judge Graham’s Opinion

Judge Graham has backed his Magistrate to the hilt and said that these orders are not “clearly erroneous nor contrary to law”.

June 19, 2000, the Honorable Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch entered an Order granting Defendants a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants in this action…On July 25, 2000, Magistrate Judge Lynch entered an Order granting Defendants’ Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction, once again prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants in this action or their supervisory employees. After careful review of the file and the pertinent portions of the record, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge Lynch’s ruling is not clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72; see also Cooper-Houston v. Southern Railway Company, 37 F.3d 603 (11th Cir. 1994).

See Docket Entry 407.

Definition of Injunction

“A prohibitive or preventive injunction commands a person to refrain from doing an act and necessarily operates on unperformed acts and prevents a threatened but nonexistent existent injury.” State of Ala. v. U.S., 304 F.2d 583, 597 (C.A.5 (Ala.), 1962). According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an injunction is a “court order commanding or preventing an action.” Black’s Law Dictionary, pg. 800, 8th Edition, Bryan A. Garner, Editor in Chief, @ 2004 West Publishing Company. The Magistrate’s orders, among other things, commands that “Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.” The Magistrate’s orders prohibits or prevents “contacting any of the government Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants…”. Even more compelling support that these orders are really injunctions comes from the Highlands County’s attorneys themselves who specifically entitled their motion as Defendants Motion For Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 199). Moreover, in their prayer for relief the Defendants requested “an injunction prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants…” (Doc. 199, pg. 4). “An injunction is a coercive order by a court directing a party to do or refrain from doing something, and applies to future actions.” Ulstein Maritime, Ltd. v. United States, 833 F. 2d 1052, 1055 (1st Cir. 1987). “When a decree commands or prohibits conduct, it is called an injunction.” Gates v. Shinn, 98 F. 3d 463, 468 (9th Cir. 1995); Zetrouer v. Zetrouer, 89 Fla 253 (Fla. 1925)(“A prohibitory, sometimes called preventive, injunction is one that operates to restrain the commission or continuance of an act and to prevent a threatened injury). “The term ‘injunction’ in Rule 65(d) is not to be read narrowly but includes all equitable decrees compelling obedience under the threat of contempt.” Consumers Gas & Oil v. Farmland Indus., 84 F.3d 367, 370 (10th Cir. 1996). See United States v. Santtini, 963 F. 2d 585, 590 (3rd Cir. 1992)(court of appeals not constrained by district courts characterization of its order). “Ordinarily, since an injunction is defined not by its title but by its effect on the litigants, …, it would be assumed that an order that has the practical effect of an injunction is an injunction for the purposes of Sec. 1292(a)(1).” Abernathy v. Southern California Edison, 885 F.2d 525, 529 n.14(C.A.9 (Nev.), 1989). Some well-known cliches might be appropriate at this junction. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Appellate Oddessy and Gauntlet

These orders have run an incredible odyssey and gauntlet of appellate attacks, however, the Eleventh Circuit has managed to avoid reviewing these orders for validity. See posting this site,”Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity“. The Eleventh Circuit has made some incredible rulings and done some amazing things with these orders or injunctions without reviewing them for validity.

  • Case No. 01-11305. The Eleventh Circuit denied a mandamus petition or interlocutory appeal to review these orders. For you legal types, a mandamus petition maybe construed as a direct appeal. In Re Bethesda Memorial Hospital Inc., 123 F.3d 1407, 1408 (11thCir. 1997)( ”[P]recedent permits us to treat the petition for the writ of mandamus as a direct appeal..”); Yates v. Mobile County Personnel Bd., 658 F.2d 298 (11th 1981)(“A petition for mandamus filed in this court, however, may also satisfy the notice of appeal requirement, especially when the appellant is proceeding pro se…”). An Interlocutory appeal of an injunction is permitted. See Delta Air Lines v. Air Line Pilots Assoc., 238 F.3d 1300, 1308 (11thCir. 2001)(“ We have jurisdiction to hear this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292, which permits appeals from interlocutory orders of district courts ‘granting, continuing, modifying, refusing or dissolving injunctions.’.”). However, the Eleventh Circuit declined to review these orders while stating: “With regard to his requests for relief from the order granting the defendants’ motions for preliminary injunction, which the court construed as preliminary discovery motion, Mason has alternative remedy. He may either comply with the district’s courts discovery order and challenge it on appeal from the final judgment, or refuse to comply with the order and challenge its validity if cited for contempt.” See Order Dated April 26, 2001. Judge Ed Carnes wrote this unpublished opinion. Judge Carnes’s opinion advances the absurd notion that a litigant should wait until the lawsuit is finished in order to get appellate review of orders that violate the First Amendment. However, absurd legal advice notwithstanding, Mason followed this advice and did just what Ed Carnes said. Hence, the direct appeal, Case No. 01-13664-A.

    Case No. 01-13664-A

    The panel that sat for this appeal included: Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Judge Stanley Marcus, and Judge Susan Black. The Eleventh Circuit pulled very some very dishonest acts of trickery and chicanery in this unpublished opinion and appeal. One of these acts was stating that Marcellus Mason violated these injunctions and that Judge Graham was justified in dismissing the lawsuit based upon these alleged violations, but the Eleventh Circuit absolutely refused to review these same orders for validity. The appellate review consisted solely of the following acknowledgment: “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 Case No. 01-13664 Opinion, Pg. 9. In this very verbose and prolix opinion, there is no other discussion about the validity of these orders. When told that they had “overlooked” or “forgot” to test the very validity of the orders they claimed that Mason had violated, Judge Stanley F. Birch and the Eleventh Circuit replied: “The petition(s) for rehearing filed by Appellant, Marcellus M. Mason, Jr., is DENIED“. See Order. Perhaps the most egregious act of dishonesty that the Eleventh Circuit pulled in this appeal was that they struck Mason’s brief for arguing against a sua sponte issued prefiling injunction because it was “beyond the scope of appeal”; and when the Eleventh Circuit rendered its opinion, it used the very same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction or vexatious litigant injunction, that it claimed was “beyond the scope of appeal”to affirm “teflon don”. See “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal“.