Posts Tagged ‘Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley’

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 In each case the Eleventh Circuit chose to deploy an unpublished opinion to affirm and protect Judge Graham while his colleagues suffered reversals in published opinions.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 Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge

April 18, 2008

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham


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.

Point of This Post

U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham [President George H.W. Bush 1992 nominee] was affirmed or upheld on appeal for the exact same set of facts that his colleague, Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley, at S.D. Fla.[President Bill Clinton 1993 nominee]  was reversed on appeal. In their individual cases, both Judge Graham and Judge Hurley denied in forma pauperis, “IFP”, motions or applications without stating a reason for the denials. Incidentally, Judge Graham has a history of arbitrary denials having done it 18 times to Mason without stating a reason. See Graham’s Arbitrary IFP Denials. The Eleventh Circuit used a published opinion to reverse Judge Hurley while it chose an unpublished opinion to affirm Judge Graham. Wonder How Judge Hurley feels? And yes he knows because the author made a telephone call to Judge Hurley’s chambers and sent both faxes, emails, and US mail to Judge Hurley’s chambers. Other colleagues have met a similar fate. See “Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal, Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata . This author owes a Federal Public Defender an apology who advised him in a trumped up criminal contempt trial: “Those people don’t give a damn about the law-Judge Graham is their golden boy. Get your godamn toothbrush cause they are going to put your ass in jail.” See Framed Web Page. This was the best legal advice this author has ever had.

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

Definition of In Forma Pauperis

IN FORMA PAUPERIS. In the character or form of a pauper. In England, in some cases, when a poor person cannot afford to pay the costs of a suit as it proceeds, he is exempted from such payment, having obtained leave to sue in forma pauperis.

Consequences of the Eleventh Circuit’s Decision

  • Judge Graham won’t have a reversal in his record in the event of a Senate confirmation hearing while his colleagues will.
  • Judge Graham does not cite any facts or law to support his decision.
  • Judge Graham’s decision defies and overrules the United States Supreme Court and Congress with impunity.
  • Unpublished decisions are used to undermine the rule of law and to achieve the desired objective.


Marcellus Mason and Evelyn Martinez filled out the same form, or Affidavit, swearing to the following:

“in the above-entitled proceeding; that in support of my request to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs under 28 §USC. 1915 I declare that I am unable to pay the costs of these proceedings and that I am entitled to the relief sought in the complaint/petition/motion.”

See APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES AND AFFIDAVIT, form AO 240 (Rev. 9/96) (Reverse), Docket No. 2, Mason and Docket Entry No. 1, Case No. 02-80933, Martinez .

U.S. Supreme Court On In Forma Pauperis

The federal in forma pauperis 28 U.S.C. §1915, allows an indigent litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. The statute protects against abuses of this privilege by allowing a district court to dismiss the case “if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27…1915(d) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis “if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.Neitzke v. Williams,490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).

Same Facts

Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley

On October 2, 2002, Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley, S.D. Fla., denied an in forma pauperis motion for the following reason:

THIS CAUSE is before the court upon plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis. [DE# 1] Having considered the plaintiff’s motion and accompanying affidavit , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:
1. The motion to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED

See Case No. 02-80933, Docket Entry No. 3. On appeal the case was reported at: Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir., 2004).

Judge Donald L. Graham

On November 2, 2000, Judge Donald L. Graham, S.D. Fla., denied an in forma pauperis motion for the following reason:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed in forma Pauper’s (D.E. #2). UPON CONSIDERATION of the motion and the pertinent portions of the record, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motion be, and the same is hereby, DENIED.

See Docket Entry No. 9.

Eleventh Circuit Appeals Achieves Two Very Different Outcomes

Judge Hurley Reversed, Eleventh Cir. Case No. No. 02-16019.

Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. [President George H.W. Bush 1990 nominee], Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee] , U.S. Dist. Judge Jerome Farris [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee]

In reversing Judge Hurley, the Eleventh Circuit held:

“The district court denied Martinez’s motion for leave to proceed IFP without explanation…Further, because the district court’s order contained no explanation as to why Martinez’s motion was denied, it is unclear whether the denial was based on her failure to satisfy the poverty requirement or because her complaint was frivolous. Therefore, we vacate the district court’s order and remand with instructions.” Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2004). See Opinion at Findlaw, Resource.Org, .

Judge Graham Affirmed or Upheld

Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat [Presidents Nixon and Ford 1970 and 1975 appointee US Dist Judge and US Circuit Judge], Judge Susan H. Black [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee Dist Judge, President George H. W. Bush 1992  appointee], Judge Ed Carnes [President George H. W. Bush 1992 nominee, avid death penalty proponent, staunch conservative]

In affirming Judge Graham [Bush 1992  appointee], the Eleventh Circuit held:

“Marcellus Mason appeals from the district court’s order denying his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. In his initial brief, Mason contends that because the trial court provided no explanation in denying his motion, the district court acted arbitrarily and its decision must be reversed. In his reply brief; Mason argues for the first time that he did not follow the district court’s order to pay the filing fee because he could not afford to pay the filing fee…Further, this Court does not address issues raised for the first time in a reply brief.Upon review of the pleadings, and upon consideration of the briefs of the parties, we find no reversible error.AFFIRMED.” See Eleventh Circuit’s Unpublished Opinion, Case No. 00-16512.

Mason begged the Eleventh Circuit to reconsider.

On October 31, Judge Ed Carnes denied a motion for hearing stating only:

“The petition(s) for rehearing filed by Appellant is DENIED.”

See Order Denying Rehearing.

The Appellant/Plaintff’s Briefs: Initial Brief, Reply Brief.
Appellee/Defendants Answer Brief, on brief Maria N. Sorolis, formerly of Allen,Norton & Blue, Tampa, Fla.

Other Disparities

The Eleventh Circuit has similarly affirmed Judge Graham on appeal while excoriating and reversing other Judges in the Southern District and at the Eleventh Circuit. See “Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal, Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata , or Same Facts, Tale of Two Appeals.