Posts Tagged ‘“judicial dishonesty”’

Eleventh Circuit Disregards Well Established Law, Own Binding Precedent, And The U.S. Supreme Court: Achieving Desired Outcome By Ignoring Timely Filed Notices of Appeal

September 9, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Point of This Post

Judicial Independence

Form of Notice Of Appeal

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Other U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals On The Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Order Closing the Case

Introduction

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“. This post will reference Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision.  Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative involves a level of judicial dishonesty that is odious and virtually impossible to overstate as this appeal has been aptly called “the appeal from hell”.  See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell The Eleventh Circuit is clearly unconstrained either by the law or the facts in its inexorable march to the land of desired outcomes. However, this post will limit itself to the narrow discussion of how the Eleventh Circuit simply took away the right to appeal a pre-filing injunction by asserting that notices of appeals were untimely. On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M.Mason.  See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) .  Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. While not the subject of this post, but the sua sponte issued pre-fling injunction is remarkable  and incredible for the following reasons:

Point of This Post

This post will only address the narrow legal point that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Specifically, this post will document how the Eleventh Circuit disregarded well established law, its own binding precedent, and the United States Supreme Court in order to keep from reviewing a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction rendered by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham on September 20, 2001.  The Eleventh Circuit simply ignored several timely filed notices of appeal that attacked the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction.  Stated alternatively, the Eleventh Circuit just took away the legal right to appeal the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction rendered on September 20, 2001.  The final judgment as required under Rule 58 was rendered on September 13, 2002. Prior to this date, September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit disregarded several notices of appeal.

Judicial Independence

The American Bar Association, “ABA”, has created “talking points” on Judicial Independence. The ABA believes that Federal Judges should be left alone and be allowed to discipline themselves without “interference” from the Congress.

Benefits of Judicial Independence

It assures all Americans that cases will be decided on their merits. All litigants know that their case will be decided according to the law and the facts, not the vagaries of shifting political currents or the clamor of partisan politicians. Decisions are based on what is right and just, not what is popular at the moment.

ABA Talking Points: Independence of the Judiciary: Judicial Independence

Contrary to the ABA’s talking points, as this post documents, judges or appeals courts can simply deny an appeal without even bothering to address the merits of the appeal.  A court like the Eleventh Circuit can simply say a notice of appeal was untimely and disregard the right to appeal.   When this happens, a litigant is virtually without a remedy because the Supreme Court only hears about 1 per cent of the cases that are filed seeking review.

Form of Notice Of Appeal

Firstly, it is necessary to point out that according to the United States Supreme Court, a timely filed brief, formal or informal, or in this case a petition for mandamus may satisfy the notice of appeal requirement. There is no requirement that the brief or filing specifically state “notice of appeal”. “Rule 3(c) governs the content of notices of appeal: notices ‘shall specify the party or parties taking the appeal; shall designate the judgment, order or part thereof appealed from; and shall name the court to which the appeal is taken.Smith v. Barry, 502 U. S. 244 (1992). Courts will liberally construe the requirements of Rule 3. Thus, when papers are ‘technically at variance with the letter of [Rule 3], a court may nonetheless find that the litigant has complied with the rule if the litigant’s action is the functional equivalent of what the rule requires.Id at ¶11. [T]he notice afforded by a document, not the litigant’s motivation in filing it, determines the document’s sufficiency as a notice of appeal. If a document filed within the time specified by Rule 4 gives the notice required by Rule 3, it is effective as a notice of appeal.” Id at ¶13. Consequently, a petition for mandamus that meets that meets the requirements stated above is sufficient to satisfy the notice of appeal requirement.

The Eleventh Circuit has stated: “[P]recedent permits us to treat the petition for the writ of mandamus as a direct appeal”. In Re Bethesda Memorial Hospital Inc., 123 F.3d 1407, 1408 (11thCir. 1997).

Rule 4. Appeal as of Right—When Taken

In a civil case, a litigant normally has 30 days to tile an appeal from an order or judgment.

(a) Appeal in a Civil Case.

(1) Time for Filing a Notice of Appeal.

(A) In a civil case, except as provided in Rules 4 (a)(1)(B), 4 (a)(4), and 4 (c), the notice of appeal required by Rule 3 must be filed with the district clerk within 30 days after the judgment or order appealed from is entered.

See Rule 4, Fed.R.App.P.

Pertinent Facts

This post will only list the facts that are necessary to determine when the time for filing a notice of appeal begins to run.  More detailed background information can be found at mmason.freeshell.org, generally, and at http://mmason.freeshell.org/CaseSummary.htm.  This case was an employment discrimination case and was docketed under Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham.  The Case was dismissed on June 20, 2001, Docket Entry No. 791, by Judge Graham for constitutionally protected out of court communications between the Plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, and the Defendant, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners.   A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry #795).  District Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham was subsequently assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No.  01-13664.

Post Closing Order(s)

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-fling injunction sua sponte, or on his motion and without notice to the litigant Marcellus M. Mason.  See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) .  Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. Consequently, when Judge Graham rendered this sua sponte issued pre-filing on September 20, 2001, the matter was on appeal already.

Final Judgment

Final Judgment was rendered almost one year after the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001.   The Defendants specifically requested a “final judgment” on February 25, 2002.  See Docket Entry No. 897Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002. See Docket Entry No.  911.  The order expressly stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant’s

Motion for Entry of Final Judgment (D.E. 897)…FINAL JUDGMENT ORDER AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED. Final Judgment is entered in favor of Defendant and costs, in the amount of $200,00 are awarded to Defendant in accordance with this Court’s January 25, 2002.

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

Prior to Final Judgment being rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit disregarded several notices of appeal that included the following:

  • Firstly, an appeal was pending, Case No. 01-13664 [a direct appeal], when Judge Graham rendered the sua sponte issue pre-filing injunction on September 20, 2001.  A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry 795).  On or about October 2, 2001, Mason filed a petition for mandamus challenging the validity of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Receipt.  This petition for mandamus was subsequently assigned Case No. 01-15754.  The briefs in the direct appeal, Case No. 01-13664, had not been filed yet and the first brief was not filed until February 4, 2002.  See Eleventh Circuit’s Docket.  Consequently, the Eleventh Circuit could have and indeed should have construed the petition for mandamus as a notice of appeal and simply allowed the parties to argue this issue in the pending appeal.  However, on December 5, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for mandamus without requiring the appellees to respond.   The ” petition for writ of mandamus and petition for writ of prohibition” is DENIED.” See Opinion.
  • Case No. 02-11476.  On May 01,2002, or four months before Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for mandamus that should have been treated as a notice of appeal and stated in pertinent part:  “Mason also requests that this Court vacate the district court’s order enjoining Mason from to Mason’s former employment without first receiving permission from the district court. Although Mason has not filed a notice of appeal from the district court’s order requiring him to receive the permission of the district court from filing any additional pleadings or from filing any new lawsuits related to his former employment or subsequent interactions with the defendants, Mason may raise this issue on appeal…Accordingly, Mason’s IFP motion is DENIED because his mandamus petition is frivolous.”  See Order dated May 1, 2002.
  • Case No. 02-14646.  On October 07,2002, or 24 days after final   Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed a notice of appeal that had been filed on June 24, 2002, or almost three months before Final Judgment was rendered on September 13, 2002. The Eleventh Circuit stated: This appeal is DISMISSED, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, filed on June 24,2002, is untimely from the district court’s order enjoining him from filing additional pleadings, entered on September 21,2001. See Fed.R.App.P, 4(a)(l)(A) & 26(a)(3).

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

“Every judgment shall be set forth on a separate document. A judgment is effective only when so set forth and when entered as provided in Rule 79(a).” Bankers Trust Company v. Mallis, 435 U.S. 381, 98 S.Ct. 1117, 55 L.Ed.2d 357 (1978). The sole purpose of the separate-document requirement, which was added to Rule 58 in 1963, was to clarify when the time for appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2107 begins to run. According to the Advisory Committee that drafted the 1963 amendment:”Hitherto some difficulty has arisen, chiefly where the court has written an opinion or memorandum containing some apparently directive or dispositive words, e. g., ‘the plaintiff’s motion [for summary judgment] is granted,’ see United States v. F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Co., 356 U.S. 227, 229, 78 S.Ct. 674, 2 L.Ed.2d 721 (1958). Clerks on occasion have viewed these opinions or memoranda as being in themselves a sufficient basis for entering judgment in the civil docket as provided by Rule 79(a). However, where the opinion or memorandum has not contained all the elements of a judgment, or where the judge has later signed a formal judgment, it has become a matter of doubt whether the purported entry of a judgment was effective, starting the time running for post-verdict motions and for the purpose of appeal. . . .

“The amended rule eliminates these uncertainties by requiring that there be a judgment set out on a separate document—distinct from any opinion or memorandum—which provides the basis for the entry of judgment.” 28 U.S.C.App., p. 7824. The separate-document requirement was thus intended to avoid the inequities that were inherent when a party appealed from a document or docket entry that appeared to be a final judgment of the district court only to have the appellate court announce later that an earlier document or entry had been the judgment and dismiss the appeal as untimely. The 1963 amendment to Rule 58 made clear that a party need not file a notice of appeal until a separate judgment has been filed and entered. Id at ¶7.

See also United States v. Indrelunas, 411 U.S. 216 (1973).

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

“'[C]ases from both the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal make it clear that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58.’”  Big Top Koolers, Inc. v. Circus-Man Snacks, Inc.,528 F.3d 839; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 11087; (11th Cir. 2008)(quoting Reynolds v. Golden Corral Corp., 213 F.3d 1344,1346 (11th Cir. 2000)). “But, Rule 58 provides an alternative means of determining when the final judgment is deemed entered: “[J]udgment is entered at the following times: . . . (2) if a separate document is required, when the judgment is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a) and the earlier of these events occurs: (A) it is set out in a separate document; or (B) 150 days have run from the entry in the civil docket.” Fed. R. Civ.P. 58(c) (emphasis added).” Id.

Other U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals On The Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Tenth Circuit

“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 sets forth how a judgment or order is to be entered. Under Rule 58(a)(1) ordinarily a “judgment [or] amended judgment must be set forth on a separate document.” (Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(a) defines judgment as “any order from which an appeal lies.”) But there are exceptions to the separate-document requirement; a separate document is not required for orders disposing of motions under Rules 50(b), 52(b), 54, 59, and 60. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 58(a)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E). Entry is straightforward when a separate document is not required; in that circumstance, the order is “entered” when it is “entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a).” Id. Rule 58(b)(1). But if a separate document is required, the judgment is entered only “when it is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a) and when the earlier of these events occurs: (A) when it is set forth on a separate document, or (B)”when 150 days have run from entry in the civil docket under Rule 79(a).” Id. Rule 58(b)(2). Medical Supply Chain, Inc. v. Neoforma, Inc., 508 F.3d 572 (10th Cir. 2007).

Fifth Circuit

What is significant about this case, Baker, infra, is that the district court entered an order and expressly wrote on the order that “‘This is a final judgment.‘” However, the court, Fifth Circuit, opined that this description did not meet Rule 58’s requirement for a separate document.  Baker, infra, at ¶12.

“‘[T]he 1963 amendment to Rule 58 made clear that a party need not file a notice of appeal until a separate judgment has been filed and entered.’ Rule 58 is thus a safety valve preserving a litigant’s right to appeal in the absence of a separate document judgment.” Baker v.Mercedes Benz Of North America, 114 F.3d 57 (5th Cir. 1997). “If a separate document judgment is not entered, however, the time for filing an appeal does not begin to accrue until a judgment complying with the Rule 58 dictates has been entered. The rule is to be ‘ ‘interpreted to prevent the loss of the right of appeal, not to facilitate loss.”” Id. at ¶10. “If a separate document judgment is not entered, however, the time for filing an appeal does not begin to accrue until a judgment complying with the Rule 58 dictates has been entered. The rule is to be ‘ ‘interpreted to prevent the loss of the right of appeal, not to facilitate loss.””  Id. at ¶11.

Order Closing the Case

On June 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered an order closing the case which stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendants’ Motion and Second Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Action (D.E. #511 and D.E. #646). THE MATTER was referred to the Honorable United States Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch. A report recommending that the Court grant Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiffs Actions (D.E. #511 and D.E. #646), dated May 31, 2001, has been submitted. Plaintiff filed his objections on June 12, 2001. The Court has conducted a de novo review of the file and is otherwise fully advised in the premises. Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that United States Magistrate Judge Lynch’s Report of May 31, 2001, is hereby RATIFIED, AFFIRMED and APPROVED in its entirety. Therefore it is, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion and Second Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Action is GRANTED. It is further, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s remaining claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. It is further, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this case is CLOSED and all pending motions are DENIED as MOOT. DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Miami, Florida, this 20th day of June, 2001.

See Docket Entry No. 791.

Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal Uses Unpublished Opinion of Three Judge Panel To Overrule Binding Published Opinion of An En Banc Court

August 9, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, A Bad Mother&&#!@, Shut Your Mouth!!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Point of This Post

Judicial Independence

Judicial Misconduct and Pending Complaints

Appointments

Brief History of The Eleventh Circuit

Definition of En Banc

Prior Panels Decisions Are Legally Binding

Background

Definition of An Injunction

Semantic Tap Dancing and Characterization

Definition of A Prior Restraint

Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit’s Apparent Nebulous Legal Reasoning And Utter Disregard For Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co. And The First Amendment

Discovery Orders


Introduction

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson uses the perfect scam to defeat claims of judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. § 351, et.seq. The perfect scam is a “negative definition” of judicial misconduct. A negative definition is a “definition which states what a thing is NOT rather than what it is.” http://academic.csuohio.edu/polen/LC9_Help/2/25negative.htm.


Point of This Post

The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, wanted to achieve the desired outcome so badly that it deployed an unpublished decision rendered by a three judge panel to overrule a legally binding opinion of an en banc court.  Specifically, Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980) affirmed Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89 (1981) was overruled by a mere three judge panel consisting of Circuit Judges, Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Hon. Stanley Marcus,  and Hon. Susan H. Black.  This post will compare Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision, to Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980), a published opinion Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative involves a level of judicial dishonesty that is odious and virtually impossible to overstate as this appeal has been aptly called “the appeal from hell”.  See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell The Eleventh Circuit is unconstrained either by the law or the facts in its inexorable march to the land of desired outcomes. However, this post will limit itself to the narrow discussion of how the Eleventh Circuit used a three judge panel and an unpublished opinion to achieve this pre-determined outcome even at the expense of overruling an en banc court.  Specifically, the following two “orders” were at issue on appeal:

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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

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

“Orders regulating communications between litigants…pose a grave threat to first amendment freedom of speech. Accordingly, a district court’s discretion to issue such orders must be exercised within the bounds of the first amendment and the Federal Rules.” In re Sch. Asbestos Litig., 842 F.2d 671,680 (3d Cir. 1988). These orders are prior restraints and injunctions.  Among other things, there are two huge problems with these orders.  Firstly, these orders were issued by a Magistrate who can not issue an injunction.  Secondly, since these orders are prior restraints and as such, they are presumptively unconstitutional. “[T]he principal purpose of the First Amendment’s guaranty is to prevent prior restraints.”  In re Providence Journal Company at ¶17, infra. In order to achieve the desired outcome the Eleventh Circuit uses the following tactics that are deceitful and intentionally misleading:

  • It refuses to discuss whether these orders are really injunctions. There is no definition of an injunction and why these orders don’t fit within the definition of an injunction.
  • The term prior restraint is not used.  Mason’s right’s under the first amendment is not discussed.
  • The validity of these orders are not discussed in any manner. In a word, the Eleventh Circuit simply refuses to discuss the validity of these orders while it was quite willing to discuss Mason’s alleged violations of these patently illegal orders.

Judicial Independence

This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said:There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. What happens if the appeals courts disregards the rule of law? This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh Circuit took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.


Judicial Misconduct and Pending Complaints

Complaint Status
Judicial Conference pending

Reconsideration
pending

June 25, 2008
pending

July 9, 2008
pending

July 15, 2008
pending

It has been said that the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, has become quite serious in investigating federal judges for misconduct. According to law.com, Binding National Rules Adopted for Handling Judicial Misconduct Complaints, in March of this year, the Judicial Conference adopted the
first-ever binding nationwide procedures for handling complaints of judicial misconduct. U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham has escaped discipline for his abusive and possible criminal behavior.  As a result of this, Mason submitted complaints to both the Judicial Conference and Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal, again.  These complaints are governed by 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364,

The Judicial Improvements Act of 2002” formerly “The Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act“.

Previously, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, had been misconstruing the statute and summarily dismissing complaints of misconduct by simply regurgitating the statutory language at 28 U.S.C. § 352 which allows him to dismiss complaints that are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling“.
Judge Edmondson is alone in his view that legal error and judicial misconduct are mutually exclusive.  For more discussion on “legal error” and judicial misconduct, see article Chief Circuit Judge J.L. Edmondson Uses Perfect Scam of Negative Definition To Defeat Complaints of Misconduct Under the Judicial
Misconduct and Disability Act
.

On Tuesday, June 25, 2008, a new complaint of judicial misconduct was filed against Judge Graham.  Additionally, complaints of misconduct were initiated against Judge Graham on July 9, 2008 and
July 15, 2008
.



Appointments

Judge Donald L. Graham (1992), Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. (1990),  and Hon. Susan H. Black(1992)  are appointments of President George H.W. Bush.  Judge Stanley Marcus is a 1997 appointment of President William J. Clinton.


Brief History of The Eleventh Circuit

Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980) was decided on June 19, 1980 and therefore binding precedent within the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal.  In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1207 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Court held:

This is the first case to be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, established October 1, 1981 pursuant to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act of 1980, P.L. 96-452, 94 Stat. 1995, and this opinion is the first to be published by the Eleventh Circuit. Under P.L. 96-452 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was divided into two circuits, the Eleventh and the “new Fifth.” This court, by informal agreement of its judges prior to October 1, 1981, confirmed by formal vote on October 2, 1981, has taken this case en banc to consider what case law will serve as the established precedent of the Eleventh Circuit at the time it comes into existence. We hold that the decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the “former Fifth” or the “old Fifth”), as that court existed on September 30, 1981, handed down by that court prior to the close of business on that date, shall be binding as precedent in the Eleventh Circuit, for this court, the district courts, and the bankruptcy courts in the circuit…The old Fifth followed the absolute rule that a prior decision of the circuit (panel or en banc) could not be overruled by a panel but only by the court sitting en banc. The Eleventh Circuit decides in this case that it chooses, and will follow, this rule.


Definition of En Banc

En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all judges of a court will hear the case, rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases, or cases considered of unusual significance. Appellate courts in the United States sometimes grant rehearing en banc to reconsider a decision of a panel of the court (a panel generally consisting of only three judges) where the case concerns a matter of exceptional public importance or the panel’s decision appears to conflict with a prior decision of the court...Cases in United States Courts of Appeals are heard by a three-judge panel. A majority of the active circuit judges may decide to hear or rehear a case en banc. Parties may suggest an en banc hearing to the judges, but have no right to it. Federal law states en banc proceedings are disfavored but may be ordered in order to maintain uniformity of decisions within the circuit or if the issue is exceptionally important. Each court of appeals also has particular rules regarding en banc proceedings. Only an en banc court or a Supreme Court decision can overrule a prior decision in that circuit; in other words, one panel cannot overrule another panel.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En_banc.


Prior Panels Decisions Are Legally Binding

A three judge panel decision or opinion binds all other subsequent appellate panels except an en banc court or the United States Supreme Court.  The Eleventh Circuit has stated: “Under our prior precedent rule, a panel cannot overrule a prior one’s holding even though convinced it is wrong. See, e.g., Cargill v. Turpin, 120 F.3d 1366, 1386 (11th Cir.1997) (‘The law of this circuit is ’emphatic’ that only the Supreme Court or this court sitting en banc can judicially overrule a prior panel decision.’  ‘[I]t is the firmly established rule of this Circuit that each succeeding panel is bound by the holding of the first panel to address an issue of law, unless and until that holding is overruled en banc, or by the Supreme Court.'”  United States v. Steele, 147 F.3d 1316, 1317-18 (11th Cir.1998) (en banc).


Background

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and the Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and their individual government employees in February 1999.  See Docket Sheet. This case was ultimately assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed, not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court and constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. See “R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E 791).  See Banned Communications.

On June 13, 2000 , the Government Defendants through their attorneys,  Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (D.E. 199)” which specifically requested:  “Defendants move the Court for an injunction prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants and/or their supervisory employees“.  Defendant’s counsel, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, cited no legal authority for the requested relief.

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

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

This motion, as the first motion cited no legal authority for the requested relief. These requests or motions for preliminary injunctions were granted on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000, respectively.  These orders required Mason, a nonlawyer, living in Sebring, FL to contact private attorneys some 90 miles away in Tampa, FL  to ask for permission to speak with his local government in Sebring, Florida.  These orders in pertinent part stated:

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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

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

Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of these injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law.”  See Docket Entry No. 407. However, Congress and the law disagree as the law expressly states that: “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).   Judge Graham has NEVER at any time cited legal authorities for these patently illegal orders even though there have been relentless requests.  See for example, and note that this list is not collectively exhausted, Case No. 99-14027 see Plaintiff’s  motions and responses, (Doc.#200);(Doc. #239); (Doc. #262);(Doc.  #264);(Doc. #284);(Doc.#334);(Doc. #509);(Doc. #515);(Doc. #526);(Doc. 554);(Doc. 632, pg.5);(Doc.#633);(Doc. 652);(Doc. 663); (Doc. 735); (Doc. 736); (Doc.738); (Doc. 783); (Doc. 787, pgs 2-3); (Doc. 810); (Doc. 812); (Doc.813); (Doc. 817); (Doc. 829), (Doc. 845);and the court’s orders: (DE #201), (DE #246);(Doc. #279);(Doc. 281);(Doc. #407);(Doc.  #524);(Doc. #528);(Doc. #634);(Doc. 673);(Doc. 744);(Doc. 745);(Doc.  766);(Doc. 791);(Doc. 874, pg. 2);(Doc. 882, pgs. 1-2); (DE-890); (DE-928);(DE-931).

On March 2, 2001, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners attorneys, Allen, Norton & Blue, filed a “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE FORM OF DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF’S ACTION AND SUPPORTING MEMORANDUM OF LAW“.  See Docket Entry No. 511.  This motion sought dismissal of the lawsuit due to alleged out of court communications with the Highlands County Government in violation the injunctions mentioned above, (DE #201) and (DE #246). On April 9, 2001, the Defendants’ filed a second motion for sanctions in the form of dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit for more alleged out of court communications between Mason and the Highlands County Government. See Docket Entry No. 646. On May 31, 2001, the Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr., prepared a Report and Recommendation, “R&R”, (D.E. #766), recommended that the lawsuit be dismissed because of these out of court communications between Mason and his local government, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners.  Judge Graham accepted this R&R in whole with no changes or comments.  See (D.E. #791).

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

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

See Report and Recommendation, (D.E. #766, pg. 3, ¶5).  This case was closed on June 20, 2001.

Case Closure

The Case was closed on June 20, 2001. Docket Entry No. 791.  A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001.  ( Docket Entry 795).  District Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham was assigned Eleventh Circuit Case No.  01-13664.  Consequently, the court never reached the merits of the  lawsuit as there were motions for summary judgments pending when the case was closed.  See Docket Sheet.. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 769);(Doc. 770), and the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as well, (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797).


Definition of An Injunction

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) states:

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary— a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except a motion for injunctive relief…,”

The Eleventh Circuit scrupulously and meticulously avoids using the word injunction or prior restraint in their opinion.  The Eleventh Circuit admits the validity of the orders, (D.E. #201) and (D.E. #246), in question were being challenged on appeal.

On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.

See Opinion, Pg. 9.   Courts have defined injunctions in the following manner:

In this matter, Magistrate Lynch prohibits direct communication with the government as he expressly states:

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

In a separate action, Mason v. Kahn, Case No. 08-1143 (D.C. Dist. 2008), the Court refers to the orders in question as injunctions.  See (D.E. #3)(“In this action, plaintiff alleges that the issuance of the June and July 2000 injunction orders…plaintiff demands that the injunction orders issued in his employment discrimination case be declared unconstitutional. “).  In the entirety of the Eleventh Circuit’s 14 page Opinion there is no discussion as to whether the orders in question are injunctions.  Similarly, in an old Fifth Circuit decision,  Lewis v. S. S. Baune, 534 F.2d 1115 (5th Cir. 1976), that the Eleventh Circuit is bound by, see Bonner v. City of Prichard, supra; the Court held that an order which restricted communications between litigants without benefit of the attorneys involved amounted to an unconstitutional injunction:

It prohibited appellant from “discussing, directly or indirectly, settlement . . . with the plaintiffs” and from “contacting, communicating, or in any way interfering with the attorney-client relationship”. What the District Court in effect enjoined was a settlement between the parties, however amicably reached, if the claimants’ attorneys were not consulted. This was too sweeping a restraint by the lower court.


Semantic Tap Dancing and Characterization

The Eleventh Circuit opts to use the phrase “discovery order” as opposed to injunction or prior restraint.  For example:

  • On 19 June 2000, the magistrate judge issued discovery order prohibiting Mason from contacting the defendants… See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.  See Opinion, pg. 3.

Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. , who issued the orders never called them “discovery orders”.  The Magistrate in granting the Defendant’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction characterizes his order thusly:  “this Court is considering this Motion as a pretrial discovery issue and not an injunction issue per se”  See (DE #201). Similarly, on July 25 in granting the Defendants’ Renewed Motion For Preliminary Injunction, (D.E. #231) The Magistrate use the same characterization:  “this Court is considering this issue as a pretrial discovery issue and not an injunction issue per se…” See (DE #246).

On appeal these orders these orders are attacked by Mason the Appellant as illegal injunctions that violate his “free speech” rights.

  • These orders, (Doc. 201) and (Doc. 246), “preliminary injunctions” are invalid because this issue was not referred to the Magistrate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).  See Initial Brief, pg. 6.
  • A Magistrate does not have the legal authority to issue an injunction.  See Initial Brief, pg. 6.
  • The district court punished the Plaintiff for exercising his right of “free speech” by dismissing this meritorious lawsuit. Plaintiff has a clear right to communicate with his government about the matters in this controversy, litigation notwithstanding.

In their opinion, The Eleventh Circuit scrupulously and meticulously avoids using the word injunction or prior restraint.  The word injunction is used one time in the very verbose 14 page opinion.  See Opinion, pg. 12 (“Moreover, the magistrate judge and district court attempted to clarify with Mason that the Orders were not injunctions, but rather necessary for the orderly litigation of the case.”).  As stated above, the Defendants filed Motions For Preliminary Injunction; however, rather than use the term Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the Eleventh Circuit uses generic terms to refer to these motions:

  • “Heartland moved to enjoin Mason from contacting them… ”  See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • “Heartland renewed their motion based on Mason’s continued contact with them…”  See Opinion, pg. 3.
  • “On 25 July 2000, the magistrate judge granted Heartland’s motion…”  See Opinion, pg. 3.

Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr., Injunction or “Pretrial Discovery Issue and Not An Injunction Per Se”  were rendered on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000, which in part stated:

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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

(DE #246).This order is dated July 25, 2000. Judge Graham has expressly stated that the issuance of the injunctions by Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. was not “clearly erroneous nor is it contrary to law. See Docket Entry No. 407.


Definition of A Prior Restraint

The orders in question prohibit direct communication with the government by a mere pro se litigant, Marcellus M. Mason, are properly characterized as prior restraints.  The order of June 19, 2000 states:

[T]he Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.  Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel.

See (DE #201).

“The term “prior restraint” describes orders forbidding certain communications that are issued before the communications occur. “ . Temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions — i. e., court orders that actually forbid speech activities — are classic examples of prior restraints.” Alexander v. United States 509 U.S. 544,550 (1993). “Prior restraint has traditionally been defined as a “predetermined judicial prohibition restraining specified expression…” Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980).  “A prior restraint is generally judicial rather than legislative in origin, although an enabling statute may authorize the judicial suppression of publication. The essence of prior restraint is that it places specific communications under the personal censorship of the judge.” id at ¶22.  “Prior restraints are “administrative and judicial orders forbidding certain communications when issued in advance of the time that such communications are to occur. Test Masters at ¶45, infra. According to the United States Supreme Court, a prior restraint comes to the Court with a heavy presumption against its validity. New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 714 (1971). This presumption is so strong it has been described a virtually insurmountable. In re Providence Journal Company, 820 F.2d 1342 (1st Cir. 1986)(“pure speech–speech not connected with any conduct–the presumption of unconstitutionality is virtually insurmountable.”). This presumption is so strong that the Supreme Court has refused to uphold prior restraints even where national security, id. at ¶21, and the defendant’s sixth amendment right to a fair trial have been involved, id. at ¶22.   In over two hundred years, the U.S. Supreme Court composed of nine Article III Judges, has never upheld a prior restraint on pure speech, In re Providence Journal Company, supra,, however, a mere Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr, issues these injunctions with ease.

In Test Masters Educational Services, Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559 (Fed. 5th Cir., 2005), the Fifth Circuit termed an order issued by Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore an injunction order:

[T]he district court’s injunction order enjoined Singh from communicating directly with, threatening, or harassing Test Masters Educational Services, Inc., its employees, its staff, or TES’s counsel, counsel’s employees, or counsel’s staff. The district court’s injunction was prompted by allegations from TES that Singh and his employees had called TES dozens of times a day, including seventy-one times on one day in May 2003. TES alleged that the calls included the screaming of obscenities.

This order prohibited communications between the parties, like the “discovery order” in this matter, was declared by the Testmasters Court to be a prior restraint. Id. at ¶45. Moreover, the  Testmasters Court held that even an acrimonious and hostile relationship between the parties would not justify a prior restraint.

The district court prohibited Singh from “communicating directly with . . . TES employees, staff or TES’s counsel, counsel’s employees, or counsel’s staff.” To quote selectively from the district court, the court found that the parties had demonstrated an “immaturity” and “mean-spirited[ness],” and that Singh was pursuing “vexatious litigation.” However, despite the perhaps need of these parties to never speak again, the court did not detail, and the record does not reflect, any “exceptional circumstances” to justify permanently enjoining Singh from generally communicating with TES, TES’s counsel and their staff and employees. The district court’s order enjoining Singh from communicating with TES employees, TES’s counsel, and its counsel’s employees was a prior restraint limiting Singh’s first amendment rights, and because the injunction order is not supported by exceptional circumstances, it is an unconstitutional restraint on Singh’s free speech rights. (emphasis added)


Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit’s Apparent Nebulous Legal Reasoning And Utter Disregard For Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co. And The First Amendment

Amendment I, U.S. Const. states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“Case law is not always necessary to clearly establish a right. A right may be so clear from the text of the Constitution or federal statute that no prior decision is necessary to give clear notice of it to an official.”  Rowe v. City Of Fort Lauderdale, 279 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir. 2002).  Notwithstanding case law and Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., it should be clear to all that communications with the government is constitutionally protected speech of the highest order.  The Eleventh Circuit and Judge Graham have shown a complete and utter disregard for Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., and its holdings. Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), is a fourteen page opinion.  This opinion is little more than propaganda as it does not discuss the validity of the orders or injunctions in question.  The first ten pages of this opinion ostensibly states the “facts of the case”.  The last four pages are dedicated to discussion of the legal issues or how the law is applied to the facts.  At page nine, the Eleventh Circuit admits:

On appeal, Mason argues that the magistrate’s discovery orders enjoined him without legal authority and violated his First Amendment and Florida state-law rights to petition Florida government officials and to request public records.

This represents the sum total of the legal discussion of this issue.  However, at page 12, the Eleventh Circuit asserts the following:

Moreover, the magistrate judge and district court attempted to clarify with Mason that the Orders were not injunctions, but rather necessary for the orderly litigation of the case.

See Opinion. However, the en banc decision of the Eleventh Circuit, Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980), expressly rejected this line of reasoning for issuing a prior restraint. “[T]he general presumption against prior restraints is not mitigated by a claim that the fair and orderly administration of justice is at stake.” In addition to the above, the Eleventh Circuit also disregarded Bernard v. Gulf-Oil other holdings.

  • The expression that is restrained is protected.  id at 39. “Material unequivocally not protected by the Constitution may be the subject of a prior restraint if sufficient procedural safeguards are provided. This possibility does not exist in the present case because the communications proscribed by the order are constitutionally protected. id at 40. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit refuses to recognize Mason’s right to communicate with the government about any subject without restriction.
  • A prior restraint comes with a heavy presumption against its constitutionality and   imposes on the issuing court rigid requirements to justify prior restraints. The prior restraint must prevent direct, immediate and irreparable damage, and it must be the least restrictive means of doing so.  id at 47. Neither Judge Graham nor the Eleventh Circuit attempt to make such a showing.

Discovery Orders

The Eleventh Circuit characterizes the orders in question as “discovery orders”.  However, neither the Eleventh Circuit in their opinion, or the Magistrate in his orders, (DE #201) and (DE #246), identify which discovery rule forms the legal basis of these orders.  Discovery is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26-37. See pg. 13, “INFORMATION ON REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN A CIVIL ACTION (NON-PRISONER), United District Court, South Carolina”.  “‘Discovery’ refers to the process of obtaining facts and information about the case from the other party in order to prepare for trial.”  id.  Neither the Eleventh Circuit nor the Magistrate identify any of the known discovery methods that were prohibited or abused.  Assuming arguendo, that these orders were actually “discovery orders”, they would be still be invalid because the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not create jurisdiction to restrict requests for public records.  In re Infant Formula Antitrust Litigation, MDL 878 v. Abbott Laboratories, 72 F. 3d 842, 843 (11th Cir. 1995). Florida Courts have repeatedly held that the Federal Rules of Civil procedure or any court rules have do not affect a person’s right under Florida Public Records law. See B.B. v. Dep., Children & Family Serv., 731 So.2d 30, 34 n.4 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1999)(“Section 119.01 is not intended to expand or contracts rights under court procedural rules.”); Wait v. Florida Power & Light Co., 372 So.2d 420, 425 (Fla. 1979)(“[W]e do not equate the acquisition of public documents under chapter 119 with the rights of discovery afforded a litigant by judicially created rules of procedure.”) If the Florida Supreme Court declines to place restrictions on the right of access to Florida’s Public Records, then who in the hell Teflon Don to do so? Secondly, and more importantly, mere labels like “discovery orders” can not be used to undermine rights created by the the Constitution. The United States Supreme Court and the Congress has expressly prohibited federal judges from imposing its will on litigants by making rules or orders that abolish or nullify a right recognized by the substantive law of the state. In Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 10 (1941), the Supreme Court held:

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

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

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