Posts Tagged ‘INC.’

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

June 19, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Purpose of This Post

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

Strict Constructionist Irony

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

Judicial Activism

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

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

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

History of Thumbing His Nose At Supreme Court Precedent

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

An Egregious Incident of Judicial Activism And Usurpation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Graham Refuses to Cite Legal Authority

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

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

See Exhibit 1, (DE 890).

Judge Graham’s Answer and Controlling Legal Authority was:

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

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

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

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

The Florida Supreme Court On Florida’s Public Records Law

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

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

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

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

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

The United States Supreme Court On State Court Law

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

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

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

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT DEFINED

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

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

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

$file/0389037o.pdf?openelement.

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

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

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

Legal Error As Misconduct

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

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

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

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

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

Litigant’s Right to Communicate With Government During Litigation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Foreword

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

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

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

Judicial Independence

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

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

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


Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal

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

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

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

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

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

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


Case No, 01-15754, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearing Denied

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

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

Rehearing Denied

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


Case No. 01-16218

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

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

See Opinion Case No. 01-16218.


Case No. 02-11476-A

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

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

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


Case No. 02-14646, Mandamus

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

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


Case No. 04-11894, Mandamus

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

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

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

At page 3, the Court asserts:

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

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


Case No. 05-10623-I, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

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

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


.

Pre-filing Restrictions

1. Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason is Permanently enjoined

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

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

See Docket Entry No. 878.

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).

FEDERAL JUDGE VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT, TENTH AMENDMENT RECEIVES ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

May 8, 2008

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

Purpose of This Post

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

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

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT’S OPINION

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

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

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

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

What Judge Graham Was Sued For

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


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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

(DE #246). See Complaint, Pg. 16, ¶150.

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

A United States Circuit Judge on the Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

“If, for example, a precedent is cited, and the other side then offers a distinction, and the judges on the panel cannot think of a good answer to the distinction, but nevertheless, for some extraneous reason, wish to reject it, they can easily do so through the device of an abbreviated, unpublished opinion, and no one will ever be the wiser. (I don’t say that judges are actually doing this–only that the temptation exists.) Or if, after hearing argument, a judge in conference thinks that a certain decision should be reached, but also believes that the decision is hard to justify under the law, he or she can achieve the result, assuming agreement by the other members of the panel, by deciding the case in an unpublished opinion and sweeping the difficulties under the rug. Again, I’m not saying that this has ever occurred in any particular case, but a system that encourages this sort of behavior, or is at least open to it, has to be subject to question in any world in which judges are human beings.” 1 J. App. Prac. & Process 219 (1999). UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS: A COMMENT, Richard S. Arnold, Copyright © 1999 University of Arkansas – Little Rock School of Law ; Richard S. Arnold.

Judge Arnold, now deceased, cannot be resting comfortably. In Anastasoff. v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. 2000), Judge Arnold and his panel declared unpublished opinions to be unconstitutional. This opinion was subsequently vacated on other grounds, 235 F.3d 1054 (8th Cir. 2000) by en banc court.

Links To Briefs and Opinions

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

SHORT CASE SUMMARY

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


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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

(DE #246).

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

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

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and individual government employees in February 1999. The case was originally assigned to then Chief Judge Edward Davis who retired. On February 20, 1999, Judge Davis allowed Mason to proceed in forma pauperis, “IFP”, or to proceed without paying the required filing fee for a lawsuit. Docket Entry No. 3. This case was ultimately assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. See Report and Recommendation, “R&R” (D.E.766), Order adopting R&R (D.E791). See Banned Communications. Judge Graham declined to reach the merits of the case as there were summary judgment motions pending on the day the case was closed. See Docket Sheet, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 769);(Doc. 770), and the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as well, (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797). More Background.

PREEMINENCE OF FLORIDA SUPREME COURT INTERPRETING FLORIDA LAW

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

ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

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

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

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

The Acts Were Legislative Not Judicial

Judges have immunity for judicial acts only. “[J]udges do not receive immunity when acting in administrative, legislative, or executive roles.” Barrett v. Harrington, 130 F.3d 246 (6th Cir. 1997)(citing Forrester v. White 484 U.S. 219, 229-30). Judges do not have immunity for legislative acts. In Tober v. Sanchez, 417 So.2d 1053, 1055 (Fla. App. Dist. 3 1982) succinctly and aptly stated: “We would be less than candid if we did not acknowledge that, as the present case demonstrates, public agencies are placed at a disadvantage, compared to private persons, when faced with potential litigation claims. It is also pertinent to observe that the wisdom of such a policy resides exclusively within the province of the legislature.” In Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., 446 U.S. 719, (1980), the U.S. Supreme Court held that is rulemaking a legislative act where as here Judge Graham propounded a rule which did or does not exist. Judge Graham has stated:

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

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

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

Henderson v. State, 745 So.2d 319 (Fla. 1999). Florida Courts have repeatedly hat the Federal Rules of Civil procedure or any court rules have do not affect a person’s right under Florida Public Records law. See B.B. v. Dep., Children & Family Serv., 731 So.2d 30, 34 n.4 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1999)(“Section 119.01 is not intended to expand or contracts rights under court procedural rules.”); Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420, 425 (Fla. 1979)(“[W]e do not equate the acquisition of public documents under chapter 119 with the rights of discovery afforded a litigant by judicially created rules of procedure.”) If the Florida Supreme Court declines to place restrictions on the right of access to Florida’s Public Records, then who in the hell Teflon Don to do so?

The United States Supreme Court and the Congress has expressly prohibited federal judges from imposing its will on litigants by making rules or orders that abolish or nullify a right recognized by the substantive law of the state. In Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 10 (1941), the Supreme Court held:

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

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

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

Clear Absence of Jurisdiction

Lack of Jurisdiction

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

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

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

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

We find no authority to support the argument that Florida Power & Light, by engaging in litigation before a federal forum, has somehow given up its independent statutory rights to review public records under chapter 119. The fact that Florida Power & Light simultaneously engaged in litigation before a federal agency does not in any way prevent its use of chapter 119 to gain access to public documents.

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

“[W]e do not equate the acquisition of public documents under chapter 119 with the rights of discovery afforded a litigant by judicially-created rules of procedure…” Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420 (Fla. 1979).

Implicit And Explicit Conclusions of Law

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

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

Judicial Misconduct

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

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 Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata

April 23, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Introduction and Point of this Posting

The Eleventh Circuit uses truisms ,”an undoubted or self-evident truth;” to mislead the reader and the general public. Unpublished decisions play to ignorance owing to the judges total control of the facts and unfettered ability to report and manipulate those facts. This posting will take an unpublished opinion, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418, and compare it to published opinions of the Eleventh Circuit. This posting will also analyze a case of Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr., CASE NO. 01-14310-CIV-GRAHAM. See Report and Recommendation,”R&R”, and Order Adopting R&R. This posting will demonstrate how the Eleventh Circuit can take two different cases with the same material facts and reach different outcomes by intentionally omitting material facts in the unpublished opinion. In Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998), U.S. Dist. Judge Marvin H. Shoob, Northern District of Georgia, a part of the Eleventh Circuit, was reversed on appeal for the same set of facts that Judge Graham was affirmed. Judge Shoob was victimized by a published decision while Judge Graham’s actions were saluted with an unpublished opinion. Others Judges in the Eleventh Circuit and particular judges at the Southern District of Florida have suffered reversals in published opinons for the same set of facts that Judge Graham has been affirmed for. Judges Daniel T.K. Hurley ,Ursula Ungaro-Benages, and William P. Dimitrouleas have suffered similar fates. See posts 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“.

This posting documents a type of dishonesty that is breathtaking and antithetical to American values. Additionally, this posting is yet but another example of why Judge Graham is truly the “Teflon Don”. Nothing sticks 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

Judicial Misconduct

A new feature of this blog will be describing conduct that is not considered judicial misconduct in the hopes that the law will change. This posting will demonstrate that federal judges can intentionally misstate or omit material facts with the sole purpose of deceiving and still not be considered guilty of judicial misconduct because it is ““directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling”. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, has specifically held that intentionally misstating material facts is not misconduct. Judicial Misconduct Complaint #05-0020.

Prior Lawsuit

The cases discussed here rely upon a previous case heard by Judge Graham, Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch. This case was filed on February 4, 1999. See Docket. The February 4, 1999 date is critical for res judicata purposes. This was an employment discrimination lawsuit based upon Marcellus Mason’s termination by Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative in November 1998. The case was dismissed, not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court communications between Highlands County and Mason. See Report and Recommendation,”R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E 791). This case was an involuntary dismissal pursuant to Rule 41(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. due to Mason’s alleged violations of the following orders in this case on June 19, 2000, (DE #201), and July 25, 2000, (DE #246):

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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

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

Incidentally, Mason has maintained that these orders are invalid because they violate the First Amendment, Tenth Amendment, and Magistrate’s Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(a)(Magistrate may not issue an injunction); however, the Eleventh Circuit has declined to review these orders for validity on multiple occasions. See posting, Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity. In a later filed lawsuit, Judge Graham’s Magistrate admitted: the court “dismissed the remaining claims on their merits as sanction for the continued communication of antagonistic emails directly to the defendants in contempt of this Court’s orders“, Case No. 01-14310, (DE #79).

Judge Graham could have decided the case on the facts but he didn’t. On June 20, 2001, when Judge Graham dismissed this case, both the Plaintiff and the Defendants had summary judgment motions pending that the district court failed to act on. (DE # 507); (DE # 667); (DE# 668); (DE # 706);(DE # 797);(DE # 769);(DE # 770);(DE #785). See Complete Docket Listing.

Unpublished Opinion

This post will present yet another example how an unpublished decision is used to undermine or overrule binding precedent in a published decision. Unpublished opinions are typified by the following:

  • Enough facts to support the opinion.
  • Pertinent and material facts are omitted
  • Relies heavily upon law and scant facts.
  • General statement of facts that support the decision that are not specific to the case.
  • Uses true statements that are misleading.

In order to graphically illustrate the point before reading the rest of this posting’s material facts, the reader is challenged to read the opinions where Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit applied res judicata and then read the rest of this posting. See Case No. 01-14310, (DE #79) and Case No. 02-13418

Definition of Res Judicata

“Res judicata is a doctrine of claim preclusion which operates to prevent litigation of matters that were raised or should have been raised in an earlier suit.” McKINNON v. BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF ALA., 935 F.2d 1187 (11th Cir. 1991).

The doctrine of collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, bars relitigation of an issue of fact or law that has been litigated and decided in a prior suit. See McKINNON, above. ” Issue preclusion (Collateral estoppel): Once an issue of fact has been determined in a proceeding between two parties, the parties may not relitigate that issue even in a proceeding on a different cause of action. (Scenario: P sues D on C. P sues D on C1. Element E, which was determined in the first trial, is common to C and C1. At the second trial, P and D cannot attempt to get a different disposition of E.)” Legal Information Institute.

Law On Res Judicata

“Res judicata bars the filing of claims which were raised or could have been raised in an earlier proceeding. ” RAGSDALE v. RUBBERMAID, INC., RUBBERMAID COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS, INC., 193 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 1999). “[R]es judicata does not bar claims that did not exist at the time of the prior litigation.United Transportation Union 946 F.2d 1054 (4th Cir. 1991). “It is well settled that res judicata bars subsequent actions on all grounds for recovery that could have been asserted, whether they were or not.” PALOMAR MOBILEHOME PARK ASSOCIATION v. CITY OF SAN MARCOS, 989 F.2d 362 (9th cir. 1993). Because “res judicata bars the filing of claims which were raised or could have been raised in an earlier proceeding,” relevant in this analysis is when the facts arose. TRUSTMARK INSURANCE COMPANY, v. ESLU, INC., 299 F.3d 1265;2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 15500;15 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 861 (11th Cir. 2002). In Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998), (quoting Manning v. City of Auburn, 953 F.2d 1355, 1358 (11th Cir.1992)) the Eleventh Circuit held:

[W]e do not believe that the res judicata preclusion of claims that “could have been brought” in earlier litigation includes claims which arise after the original pleading is filed in the earlier litigation. Instead, we believe that, for res judicata purposes, claims that “could have been brought” are claims in existence at the time the original complaint is filed or claims actually asserted by supplemental pleadings or otherwise in the earlier action.

True Statements That Are Dishonest

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418, Dist. Ct. Case No. 02-14049.
The Eleventh Circuit used true statements that are misleading. For example, each of the following assertions in the “opinion” are true:

  • Res judicata bars Mason’s employment discrimination claims against the county. Under res judicata, “a final judgment on the merits bars the parties from re-litigating a cause of action that was or could have been raised in that action.
  • Penalty dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 (b) are considered to be a final judgment on the merits.
  • In several previous lawsuits, including 99-CV-14027, Mason claimed Highlands County engaged in race discrimination. The district court dismissed 99-CV-14027 under Rule 41(b) because of Mason’s continual disregard for the court’s orders and rules.
  • This court affirmed the Rule 41(b) penalty dismissal of 99-CV-14027 in Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, 01-13664 (11th Cir. October 16, 2002).
  • Therefore, because a final judgment on the merits has been previously rendered on his race discrimination claims against Highlands County, res judicata bars Mason’s re-assertion of those claims.

See Opinion, Case No. 02-13418
The above statements are designed to lead the reader and the American public to the same conclusion as the Eleventh Circuit. The statements are dishonest and misleading because the reader has no idea when the claims or cause of actions arose or accrued. The material facts that are omitted is that the former lawsuit, Case No. 99-14027, a wrongful termination case, was filed in February 1999 due to a termination in November 1998. See above. This lawsuit was a failure to hire case after the termination in November 1998. Mason applied for a job as a Budget Technician in November 1999. The EEOC issued the Notice of Right To Sue on March 30, 2000, # 150 A0 1181. See Complaint, (DE #1). Consequently, it is absurd and impossible to have filed this claim on February 1, 1999, when it did not exist. The Eleventh Circuit in two similar cases, Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998) and Manning v. City of Auburn, 953 F.2d 1355, 1360 (11th Cir. 1992), have rejected this nonsense. In Pleming, the court rejected res judicata based upon the following facts:

Pleming’s first lawsuit claimed that Universal-Rundle discriminated against her when the company hired a less qualified white employee for a specific clerical position in July 1993. Pleming did not learn that the company had engaged in alleged further discrimination against her by filling two subsequent administrative openings in October 1994 without considering her, until May 1995, during the conduct of discovery in the first lawsuit. Pleming’s first complaint, therefore, contained no mention of these subsequent hiring decisions and Pleming did not amend her complaint to include them.

In Manning, the Court stated: “Manning’s August 1988 dismissal from Hammock can not bar her claims for discriminatory acts occurring after that date.”

Judge Graham Uses Truisms To Deceive In Case No. 01-14310-CV-Graham

Marcellus Mason applied for a job with Highlands County as a Sign Technician in early 2001. Since Highlands County did not interview Mason or hire him, Mason filed a failure to hire and retaliation claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “EEOC”. On March 28, 2001, EEOC the Notice of Right To Sue, NRTS, issued 9-6-01, #150A13119. This action was filed in state court on or about October 4, 2001 under Case No. GC-00-269, removed October 19, 2001. In order to apply res judicata, Teflon Don and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. resorted to truisms and general statements that omit material facts. Given the material facts, there is no way res judicata could apply. However, to get around the specific facts, Judge Graham asserts the following statements and truisms to justify res judicata:

  • the court “dismissed the remaining claims on their merits as sanction for the continued communication of antagonistic emails directly to the defendants in contempt of this Court’s orders (DE 766)
  • This Court notes that the factual allegations on which the Plaintiff bases his federal law claims stem from his initial termination of employment. For example, the Plaintiff alleges that Highlands County’s refusal to re-hire him was an act of retaliation and/or an act of discrimination.
  • In support of these allegations, the Plaintiff makes reference to Highlands County’s alleged discriminatory behavior around the time of his prior employment and termination. Indeed, the underlying termination is fundamental to the Plaintiff’s civil rights claims.
  • This is especially so in light of the fact that the Defendants raise his discharge for wrongful conduct and the disciplinary action of permanent removal as a non-discriminatory, legitimate ground for the refusal to re-hire.
  • The issue of whether the termination was lawful has already been litigated in this court, and such claims were dismissed with prejudice with the right to appeal.
  • Therefore, the federal claims raised in the instant case are barred by the doctrine of res judicata for arising from the same nucleus of operative facts and relying on the same factual predicate of the prior litigation.
  • The principle of res judicata also leads to a sensible result in light of the Plaintiff’s legal arguments. After one’s prior termination has been decided in the employer’s favor, it is convoluted logic to argue that the employer’s refusal to re-hire the former worker was the result of unlawful discrimination. To rule otherwise would render meaningless any judicial finding of lawful discharge. Certainly, the protections afforded under Title VII are not meant to enable unappeased litigants to bring recurrent litigation against former employers.

See Report and Recommendation, (DE #79).
If you read this opinion not knowing the omitted and material facts, res judicata is definitely properly applied. This is the danger of allowing judges to write opinions without public scrutiny. Additionally, Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. goes beyond truisms and actually lies or does he? A “judicial finding of lawful discharge” was not made in the former case, 99-14027. Judge Graham’s decision necessarily leads to an absurd result in that Mason could apply for a job today and Highlands County could discriminate against Mason and Mason would be without a remedy due to “res judicata”. Thanks to Judge Graham, Highlands County is not subject to the Discrimination laws of the United States. Here again Judge Graham has substituted his wisdom for Congress.