Posts Tagged ‘notice and opportunity to respond’

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

September 9, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Table of Contents

Introduction

Point of This Post

Judicial Independence

Form of Notice Of Appeal

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

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

Order Closing the Case

Introduction

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Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision.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

Point of This Post

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

Judicial Independence

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

Benefits of Judicial Independence

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

ABA Talking Points: Independence of the Judiciary: Judicial Independence

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

Form of Notice Of Appeal

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

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

Rule 4. Appeal as of Right—When Taken

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

(a) Appeal in a Civil Case.

(1) Time for Filing a Notice of Appeal.

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

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

Pertinent Facts

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

Post Closing Order(s)

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

Final Judgment

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

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant’s

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

Disregarded Notices Of Appeal

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

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

Supreme Court On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

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

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

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

Eleventh Circuit On Time For Filing Notice of Appeal

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

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

Tenth Circuit

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

Fifth Circuit

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

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

Order Closing the Case

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

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

See Docket Entry No. 791.

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

May 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

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

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

Recap

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

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

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

The Opinion

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

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

See Opinion, pgs. 13-14.

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

See Doc. 878, pg. 8.

Law On Jurisdiction During Appeal

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

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

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

Subsequent Decisions are Equally Dishonest

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

On June 20, 2000, Federal Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. issued the following order:
[I]t is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED…Plaintiff shall be prohibited from contacting any of the Defendants, including their supervisory employees and/or the individual Defendants, regarding any matter related to this case.” See Docket Entry No. 201

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Scope of Appeal

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Orders Issued Inconsistent With Due Process Are Void

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

Supreme Court’s Emphasis on Due Process

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

Case Law Against

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

Courts have felt that the notice and opportunity to respond was so important that they have reversed district courts even where they thought the pre-filing injunction was otherwise valid. See Oliver, In re, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (C.A.3 (Pa.), 1982); Scott v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage , 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 15709,*;143 Fed. Appx. 525(4th Cir. 2005); Gagliardi v. McWilliams, 834 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987).

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

May 1, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. are reversed. This is the third of three posting on this site where this has happened. Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley met a similar fate. See posting this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“, ““Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal“, and “Judge Graham Disagrees With The Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals”. In each case the Eleventh Circuit chose to deploy an unpublished opinion to affirm and protect Judge Graham while his colleagues suffered reversals in published opinions. It is difficult to see how such a system advances the notion of equal justice. It would seem that justice is a function not of the “rule of law”, but of whether or not the judge is favored by the appellate courts.

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

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

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

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

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

    Judge Dimitrouleas

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

    Judge Graham Affirmed For An Even More Egregious Violation

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

    Eleventh Circuit Sticks In The Knife

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

Judge Graham Misstates Material Facts and Law To Support Pre-Filing Injunction

April 27, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Should Judges Be Allowed to Intentionally Misrepresent Material Facts With Impunity?

This post will examine an order rendered by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”. The order at issue is a pre-filing injunction or a vexatious litigant injunction that was issued by Teflon Don, sua sponte on September 20, 2001. Though not the point of this post, but it is well settled that a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is invalid because it violates due process, or notice and opportunity to respond prior to its issuance. For more discussion and case law on sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions, see post this site entitled “Judge Graham Disagrees With The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, And DC Circuit Courts Of Appeal. The importance of “notice and opportunity to respond” will become readily apparent upon reading this post. Mason actually filed two lawsuits, Case No. 99-14027 and 01-14230; neither of which Judge Graham himself adjudged to frivolous. The purpose of this post is to demonstrate a dishonest tactic used by judges to reach the desired outcome. This post will discuss and document the act of intentionally misstating material facts. Lastly, this post will examine whether intentionally misstating material facts, a despicable and dishonest act, is considered judicial misconduct. Judge Graham has been guilty of outright lying before by intentionally misrepresenting the law to Mason. See Liar Page.

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 Misstated Fact and Misrepresentation

Judge Graham stated that Marcellus Mason filed eleven lawsuits. He then uses inference to suggest that Mason filed eleven lawsuits that lacked merit. As will be proven below, Teflon Don’s words do not match reality because:

  • Mason actually filed one lawsuit at the instance of the pre-filing injunction on September 20, 2001. Technically this one lawsuit was four lawsuits consolidated into one lawsuit in the very early pre-discovery stages at a time when the pro se Plaintiff was unaware of the rules regarding amending complaints.
  • Judge Graham actually counts a lawsuit filed by the Defendant, Highlands County, as a lawsuit filed by Mason. The irony is that the Defendant, Highlands County, filed a lawsuit seeking a prefiling injunction which Judge Graham rejected in February 2001 or just six months before he rendered the filing injunction, sua sponte, of September 20, 2001. Mason initiated no new lawsuits between February 2001 and September 20, 2001.
  • Judge Graham counts five lawsuits in the eleven lawsuits that he claims Mason “filed” where Judge Graham declined to allow Mason to initiate a lawsuit by simply denying in forma pauperis motions without stating a reason for denying the motion. According to Judge Graham’s own definition of “filing”, a lawsuit is not filed until the filing fee is paid. Moreover, Judge Graham has a documented history of denying in forma pauperis motions without stating a reason having done it to Mason 18 times. See IFP History.
  • Judge Graham does not state that he declined to reach the merits of the lawsuit that was filed because he declined to pass upon summary judgment motions that were submitted by the Plaintiff and Defendants. See Docket for pending summary judgment motions. (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797);(Doc. 769);(Doc. 770). Judge Graham chose to dismiss the lawsuit because of alleged hostile and irrelevant out court communications between Mason and Highlands County. See below, “The Dismissed Lawsuit”.
  • In a docket that contains almost one thousand entries, Judge Graham fails to cite one single motion that Mason filed in the case that lacked merit. Rule 11, Fed.R.Civ.P. is designed to punish and deter litigants from filing “frivolous” filings or motions. “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 provides that a district court may sanction attorneys or parties who submit pleadings for an improper purpose or that contain frivolous arguments or arguments that have no evidentiary support.” Lectlaw.com.
  • Judge Graham fails to disclose that his mere speculations about Mason’s motive in filing a lawsuit is immaterial as a matter of law. Consequently, even if Judge Graham was a soothsayer and could somehow prove that Mason had a bad motive in filing a lawsuit, such a motive is not a defense to a well grounded lawsuit.

The Misstated and Misleading “Facts”

In order to justify his pre-filing injunction, Judge Graham made the following statements.

Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason (“Mason”) has filed eleven (11) cases and/or counterclaims in this District, all against either the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, the Highland Library Cooperative and/or various board members or employees of the County and Library. (collectively the “Defendants”). Each case relates to his prior employment by Defendants and Defendants’ treatment of Mason after his termination.

Docket Entry No. 878, pps. 3-4.

Mason’s original action against Defendants was case no. 99-14027. (the “Original Action”). After vexatious and relentless litigation on the part of Mason, including continual attempts to directly communicate with the Defendants rather their attorneys, the Court enjoined Mason from any further contact with the Defendants or Defendants” employees. Mason, however, ignored the Court’s order and continued to contact the Defendants.

Docket Entry No. 878, pps. 3-4.

On June 20, 2001, in view of Mason’s repeated refusal to comply with the Court’s rules and orders, the Court dismissed case number 99-14027.

Docket Entry No. 878, pg. 5.

The True Amount of Lawsuits Filed

At pages 1, 2, and 3 of Judge Graham’s sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, he attempts to list (11) eleven lawsuits that he claims were filed in the S.D.Fla. by Marcellus Mason. See Docket Entry Number 878. According to Judge Graham himself, ” A Complaint is not considered filed until the filing fee is paid.” See 00-14202, (DE #10, dtd. 11-2-2000); 00-14201, (DE #10, dtd. 11-21-2000). Five of these lawsuits had no filing fee paid, and according to Judge Graham, not filed:

These 5 lawsuits were dismissed without prejudice and are “non-suits” simply because Judge Graham denied Mason in forma pauperis status and stated no reason for this denial. Judge Graham has a history of arbitrary denials of in forma pauperis motions, having done it to Mason 18 times without stating a reason. See IFP History.

Of the 6 remaining lawsuits that Judge Graham claims was filed by Mason, Case No. 14240-CV-Graham was actually filed by Highlands County against Mason. Mason even prevailed on this lawsuit as on January 16, 2001, Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. concluded:

However, at this point, none those other cases have totally dismissed with prejudice. There are viable claims pending in those cases. * * * While there are other pending cases between these parties, there is nothing near the extent of the litigation which this Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals usually look for justifying injunctive relief.

Case No. 00-14240, (D.E. #27, dtd. 1-16-01)(D.E. 33 dtd. 2-13-01).

Of the five remaining lawsuits, Case No. 01-14230-CV-Graham, was removed from state court by the Defendants after the injunction of September 20, 2001 where they knew the case would be automatically assigned to Judge Graham. Judge Graham improvidently dismissed this case because of an improperly granted res judicata application. Judge Graham asserts that the claims in this lawsuit was due to be dismissed because of a prior lawsuit, Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham. Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch was filed on February 4, 1999. See Docket Entry No. 1. This lawsuit, Case No. 01-14230-CV-Graham, asserts claims due to Highlands County continuing violations of Mason’s rights by issuing a series “No Tresspass Warning” to Mason every six months, 6-30-99, 12-30-99, and 6-26-00, thereby prohibiting Mason from using the Sebring Public Library. See Complaint, Document No. 1, pgs. 24, 25, 29. If you read the Complaint and Exhibits, you will discover that Highlands County issued three “No Tresspass Warning” to Mason after the prior lawsuit, Case No. 99-14027 was filed on February 4, 1999. Judge Graham’s application of res judicata evinces two absurdities. Firstly, in order to apply res judicata to Case No. 01-14230-CV-Graham those claims would have to have existed on February 4, 1999 when the former lawsuit Case No. 99-14027 was filed. This would have been impossible for claims that did not exist until 6-30-99, 12-30-99, and 6-26-00. Judge Graham is of the apparent belief that Highlands County may commit any tortious or illegal act against Mason and not be sued because of this case. In a word, Judge Graham has immunized Highlands County against all future lawsuits brought by Mason. Judge Graham has taken this errant view of the law elsewhere against Mason . See post this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata“.

Lastly, of the remaining “filed” four lawsuits, Case Nos. 99-14042-CV-Graham, 99-14257-CV-Graham, 99-14314-CV-Graham were consolidated into one case, 99-14027-CV-Graham.

Information regarding the nature of these lawsuits is fully set forth in html form or Microsoft Word.

Honesty and Judicial Opinion Writing

Thesis: A judge’s opinion should accurately portray the facts. A judge’s honesty and integrity lie at the very heart of that system. In re Shenberg, 632 So. 2d 42, 47 (Fla. 1992).

Legal Experts State that Judge’s Opinions Often Don’t Reflect Reality

There is one form of judicial misconduct that I think clinches the case against Judge Edwards’ position: lack of candor in judicial opinions. One of the worst things a judge can do is to ignore or misstate the critical facts or critical legal issues in a case. Since this kind of misconduct is not generally considered a “crime” nor an impeachable offense, it would fall squarely within the realm of judicial misbehavior that Judge Edwards leaves to the judiciary to regulate..
Professor Monroe Freedman:
Frankly, I have had more than enough of judicial opinions that bear no relationship whatsoever to the cases that have been filed and argued before the judges. I am talking about judicial opinions that falsify the facts of the cases that have been argued, judicial opinions that make disingenuous use or omission of material authorities, judicial opinions that cover up these things with no-publication and no-citation rules.

Self-Regulation of Judicial Misconduct Could be Mis-Regulation, 89 Michigan Law Review 609 (1990). (Code A90N).

Judicial Misconduct

A feature of this blog is describing conduct that Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, and others, do not consider to be judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364. This posting will demonstrate that federal judges can intentionally misstate material facts or outright lie with near absolute impunity. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, and others, assert that such acts, even if true, do not constitute judicial misconduct. See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct No. 05-0020. Moreover, according to Judge J.L. Edmondson’s interpretation of the law, even if Judge Graham were involved in a pattern and practice of total disregard for clearly established law and binding precedent such behavior would still not rise to the level of judicial misconduct. Judge Edmondson’s interpretation also holds that the the aggregate of individual acts does not constitute judicial misconduct. See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct No. 05-0011. For More Support, Complaint Nos. 05-0008, 05-0012, 05-0013, 05-0020, 05-0021. Switching vernacular for the moment, according to Judge Edmondson there aint no judicial misconduct.

Judge Edmondson seems to disagree with his own Judicial Conference who has clearly stated that a pattern and practice intentionally disregarding clearly establish law could be misconduct.

[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 :Pg. 8.

Judicial Independence advocates state:

Appellate courts serve as a moderating influence by correcting mistakes made by lower courts. The very function of appellate courts also encourages lower courts to adhere to closely to the law and applicable precedents: If a trial court judge knows that an appellate court is likely to reverse a certain decision, she is less likely to stretch the boundaries of the law.

Constitution Project, THE NEWSROOM GUIDE TO JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

If the Constitution Project is correct, then Teflon Don should have suffered a reversal on appeal. However, this is not what has happened as the Eleventh Circuit has aggressively fought off all attempts at appellate review of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction at issue. See APPELLATE HISTORY: AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. Aided by the “unpublished” opinion, the Eleventh Circuit has raised trickery, artifice, and chicanery to new heights or new lows depending upon your point of view. The clear intent of the Eleventh Circuit is not to ever pass on the validity of this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and reverse Teflon Don. The Eleventh Circuit has done the schiester lawyer proud.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF PRE-FILING INJUNCTIONS

“[B]efore a district court issues a pre-filing injunction against a pro se litigant, it is incumbent on the court to make “substantive findings as to the frivolous or harassing nature of the litigant’s actions… To make such a finding, the district court needs to look at “both the number and content of the filings as indicia” of the frivolousness of the litigant’s claims.” De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144, 1148 (9th Cir. 1990). See May vs. Shell Oil Company, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14786, *7 (S.D. Fla. 2000)(“courts have a duty to ensure that frivolous or meritless lawsuits do not interfere with their constitutional function:”)[1]; Urban v. United Nations, 768 F.2d 1497, 1500 (D.C. Cir. 1985)(holding that an injunction’s purpose is to fashion a remedy to stem the flow of frivolous actions);Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351, 353 (10th Cir. 1989)(“Litigiousness alone will not support an injunction restricting filing activities.”); Ruderer v. United States, 462 F.2d 897, 899 (8th Cir. 1972) (“affinity for litigation, standing alone, would not provide a sufficient reason for issuing such an injunction.”).

Nowhere in the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction does it identify one single lawsuit that Mason filed that was frivolous. As a matter of act, Judge Graham is precluded by law from asserting that D.C. Case No. 99-14027-CV was without merit because Judge Graham refused to rule on pending summary judgments by both Highlands County and Mason. A court does not have the duty to protect itself from non-frivolous litigation. It is not unlawful to prosecute a meritorious action. See Bill Johnson’s Restaurants, Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731, 743 (1983). “ Access to the courts is a fundamental tenet of our judicial system; legitimate claims should receive a full and fair hearing no matter how litigious the plaintiff may be.” In re Oliver, 682 F.2d 443, 446 (3rd Cir. 1982). It was Judge Graham himself who adopted the following: “However, at this point, none those other cases have totally dismissed with prejudice. There are viable claims pending in those cases. * * * While there are other pending cases between these parties, there is nothing near the extent of the litigation which this Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals usually look for justifying injunctive relief.” Case No. 00-14240, (D.E. #27, dtd. 1-16-01)(D.E. 33 dtd. 2-13-01). Furthermore, at no time during any litigation that Mason was involved in did Judge Graham impose any Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 11 sanctions or threaten to do so for filing motions that lacked a substantial basis.

Importance of Motive in Filing a Lawsuit

“[A}n objectively reasonable effort to litigate cannot be sham regardless of subjective intent.” Professional Real Estate Investors, Inc.,v. Columbia Pictures (91-1043), 508 U.S. 49 (1993). see also Bill Johnson’s Restaurants, Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731 (1983)(“The filing and prosecution of a well-founded lawsuit may not be enjoined as an unfair labor practice, even if it would not have been commenced but for the plaintiff’s desire to retaliate against the defendant for exercising rights protected by the Act.”). “Hostility between parties or their counsel ought not to invalidate a lawsuit brought to obtain proper legal relief for potentially meritorious claims.” Colombrito v. Kelly, 764 F.2d 122 (2nd Cir. 1985). “The rule generally prevailing is that, where a suitor is entitled to relief in respect to the matter concerning which he sues, his motives are immaterial; that the legal pursuit of his rights, no matter what his motive in bringing the action, cannot be deemed either illegal or inequitable; and that he may always insist upon his strict rights and demand their enforcement.” Johnson v. King-Richardson Co., 36 F.2d 675, 677 (1st Cir. 1930) see also MASTERSON et al.v.PERGAMENT, 203 F.2d 315 (Sixth Cir. 1953)(“The motive of the stockholder in filing a derivative action is immaterial.”). “Courts will generally not inquire into the motives which actuate the plaintiff in bringing his action, if he has a legal right which he seeks to protect. It is no defense to a valid cause of action that the motive or ulterior purpose of the plaintiff in bringing the suit is based on animosity or malice. Where the plaintiff shows a right to the relief sought, it is immaterial that he is seeking it for purposes other than the ascertainment and enforcement of the rights which he relies.” 1 Fla. Jur. 2d, Actions, Section 29, Page 289. See also CHI., R.I. & PAC. RY. v. Dowell, 229 U.S. 102, 114 (1913) (“If the plaintiff had a cause of action which was joint and had elected to sue both tort-feasors in one action, his motive in doing so is of no importance.”); Chi., Rock Island RY. v. Whiteaker, 239 U.S. 421, 424-5 (1915) (“ the motive of plaintiff, taken by itself, does not affect the right to remove” and that “if there is a joint liability he has an absolute right to enforce it, whatever the reason that makes him wish to assert the right.“).

The Dismissed Lawsuit, Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch

Judge Graham states he dismissed a case because of Mason’s “repeated refusal to comply with the Court’s rules and orders“. Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch was filed on February 4, 1999. See Docket. 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 issued 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.

Judge Graham Disagrees With The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, And DC Circuit Courts Of Appeal

April 25, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

It is not surprising that Judge Graham, “Teflon Don“, a district judge, would disagree with the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth Circuit, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh U.S. Court of Appeal because Judge Graham has similarly disagreed with the United States Supreme Court. See Postings this site, 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. Similarly, Teflon Don has disagreed with the Fifth Circuit’s holdings on Prior Restraints and Injunctions. See “Judge Graham Disagrees With The Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals“. In this post, Judge Graham issues a pre-filing injunction, sua sponte. Sua Sponte is: (“Latin for “of one’s own accord; voluntarily.” Used when the court addresses an issue without the litigants having presented the issue for consideration.” Legal Information Institute.) Judge Graham did not give Mason, the litigant, notice and opportunity either before or after he rendered this pre-filing injunction. It is black letter law that the litigant must be given notice and opportunity to respond or due process, prior to the issuance of any pre-filing injunction. Judge Graham summarily dismisses this notion with the greatest of ease. Teflon Don is a bad mother-shut your mouth!

Pre-Filing Injunction

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction, sua sponte, against Marcellus Mason. See Document No. 878. This type of order is also referred to as “Vexatious Litigant injunction“, “pre-screening injunction”, and “leave to file injunction”. This order specifically states: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” See Document No. 878, pg. 3. There is a string of U.S. appellate courts and state courts, including Florida and Georgia, who have consistently vacated pre-filing injunctions issued without notice and opportunity to respond. For the time challenged, you may simply refer to the Case Law authority section below for the long line of courts who routinely reject sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions. However, the purpose of this post is to also examine the actions of the judges charged with the responsibility of correcting this type of behavior and to examine what the consequences are for a judge who exhibits a reckless disregard for the law. What is crystal clear in this matter, Teflon Don has suffered nothing.

Teflon Don Knows he Is Flaunting the Law

Defendant Highlands County filed a lawsuit, Case No. 00-14240, against Mason asking for a pre-filing injunction. However, on January 16, 2001, Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. said the following:

However, at this point, none those other cases have totally dismissed with prejudice. There are viable claims pending in those cases. * * * While there are other pending cases between these parties, there is nothing near the extent of the litigation which this Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals usually look for justifying injunctive relief.

Case No. 00-14240, (D.E. #27, dtd. 1-16-01)(D.E. 33 dtd. 2-13-01).  Between January 16, 2001 when Judge Graham made the statement above, and September 20, 2001, when Judge Graham rendered the pre-filing injunction sua sponte, Document No. 878, Mason did not file any new lawsuit. How is possible to go from havingnothing near the extent of the litigation which this Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals usually look for justifying injunctive relief to rendering a pre-filing injunction with no new lawsuit filed in between?’

Additionally, as further proof that Teflon Don is willfully flaunting the law is the fact that Judge Graham was presented with a motion specifically requesting a due process hearing with respect to the sua sponte issued prefiling injunction of September 20, 2001 on 23, 2002. See Document 914, pgs. 19-24. At page 1, this motion asserts: “The injunction violated Mason’s well-established due process rights. It is inexcusable that a federal judge would knowingly issue this type of injunction in violation of Mason’s due process rights.” On January 31, 2003, Judge Graham denied the motion and refused to comply with Mason’s due process requests even though Judge Graham was in possession of a motion citing the same cases that are cited on this post.

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Plaintiff’s Motion to Disqualify, Plaintiff’s Demand to Rescind Inunction and Plaintiff’s Motion for Publication (D.E. #914) is DENIED.

Document No. 928. It can not be argued that Judge is not intentionally disrespecting the law.

Judicial Misconduct

A feature of this blog is describing conduct that Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, and others, do not consider to be judicial misconduct under the Judicial Misconduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364. This posting will demonstrate that federal judges can intentionally disregard well established law and binding precedent with near absolute impunity. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, and others, assert that such acts, even if true, do not constitute judicial misconduct. Moreover, according to Judge Edmondson’s interpretation of the law, even if Judge Graham were involved in a pattern and practice of total disregard for clearly established law and binding precedent, such behavior would still not rise to the level of judicial misconduct. See Complaint of Judicial Misconduct No. 05-0011. For more Support, see Complaint Nos. 05-0008, 05-0012, 05-0013, 05-0020, 05-0021. According to Judge Edmondson, even if an invalid sua sponte issued prefiling injunction formed the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction, such conduct would still not be considered judicial misconduct. Switching vernacular for the moment, according to Judge Edmondson there aint no judicial misconduct.

Judge Edmondson seems to disagree with his own Judicial Conference who has clearly stated that a pattern and practice of intentionally disregarding clearly established law could be misconduct.

[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 :Pg. 8.

Judicial Independence advocates state:

Appellate courts serve as a moderating influence by correcting mistakes made by lower courts. The very function of appellate courts also encourages lower courts to adhere to closely to the law and applicable precedents: If a trial court judge knows that an appellate court is likely to reverse a certain decision, she is less likely to stretch the boundaries of the law.

Constitution Project, THE NEWSROOM GUIDE TO JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

If the Constitution Project is correct, then Teflon Don should have suffered a reversal on appeal. However, this is not what has happened as the Eleventh Circuit has aggressively fought off all attempts at appellate review of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction at issue. See APPELLATE HISTORY: AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. Aided by the “unpublished” opinion, the Eleventh Circuit has raised trickery, artifice, and chicanery to new heights or new lows depending upon your point of view. The clear intent of the Eleventh Circuit is not to ever pass on the validity of this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and reverse Teflon Don. The Eleventh Circuit has done the schiester lawyer proud.

Constitutional Right of Access To The Courts Generally

Dissent by Judge Berzon;Dissent by Chief Judge Kozinski, Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20966,*;500 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007)
Pre-filing orders infringe the fundamental right to access the courts. They are properly reserved for extreme situations where there is absolutely no possibility that the allegations could support judicial relief and filing the suit is a burden on both the court and the opposing party — a costly exercise in futility…The First Amendment right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” — which includes the filing of lawsuits — is “one of `the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights.’ ” BE & K Constr. Co. v. NLRB, 536 U.S. 516, 524 (2002) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Illinois Bar Assn., 389 U.S. 217, 222 (1967)).

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).

Judge Graham Uses Act of Cowardice Hides Behind Dresstail of Court Reporter To Intimidate Litigant!

April 21, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham

What this Posting Will Prove

Judge Graham attempted to use intimidation in order to prevent Marcellus Mason from appealing arbitrary denials of Rule 60(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. motions. In order to accomplish this task Judge Graham scheduled a “Status/Motion Hearing” with AUSA Robert Waters and U.S. Probation required to be at a civil hearing. Mason was on probation at the time. However, Judge Graham did not think his hearing was important enough to reduce his ‘rants’ to writing, he opted instead to hide behind the dresstail of a court reporter and have her write some account of the hearing. See Document No. 934. Apparently, Judge Graham does not know, or more likely does not care that: “Even after a judgment has become final and even after an appeal has been lost, Civil Rule 60(b) gives losing parties additional, narrow grounds for vacating the judgment.” GenCorp, Inc. v. Olin Corporation, 477 F.3d 368;2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 3102 (6th Cir., 2007). Moreover, there is no time limit bringing a Rule 60(b)(4) motion. See HERTZ CORP. v. ALAMO RENT-A-CAR, INC., 16 F.3d 1126 (11th Cir. 1994).

Background

In District Case No. 99-14027-CIV-GRAHAM, Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. v. Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Judge Graham rendered a “vexatious litigant order”, “pre-filing order”, “pre-filing injunction”, “filing injunction”, “leave to file” injunction, sua sponte on September 20, 2001. See Page 3, Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) . This document boldly asserts: THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte. Sua Sponte meaning on the courts’ own motion and without a request from any party. It is well settled and black letter law that sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions rendered without notice and opportunity to respond, “due process”, are clearly void. See Case Law Authority. One of the terms of this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is:

3. Any request for permission to file additional pleadings in the above captioned cases already before the Court 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 requested relief in the proposed pleading, and shall not exceed one page. The application shall not include the proposed pleading.

See Page 9, Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878). Incidentally, Mason has challenged this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction on what has to be a world record number of times; however, the Eleventh Circuit has declined to reach the merits of this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction by asserting all manner of procedural arguments. See Futile Appellate Review Attempts. 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. For a really egregious example of this dishonesty, see this site page, “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal“. Judge Graham is truly the “Teflon Don” because none of his misconduct sticks to him. See this site postings “Documented Acts of Misconduct by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham” and “Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson Aggressively Defends Judge Donald L. Graham

Alleged violations of this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction formed the basis of a criminal contempt information and conviction in this matter. Essentially, Judge Graham and AUSA Robert Waters concocted a crime and framed an innocent man using the enormous power of the U.S. Government. See Framed and Wrongful Conviction. Mason was sentenced to five years probation on this concocted charge and was sentenced to the following special terms in addition to the standard terms of probation:

  • Mental Health counseling.
  • Prohibited from using the Internet. The government and AUSA Robert Waters asked for this term to stop criticism of Judge Graham on the Internet. See this site’s posting, “Power of US Government Used To Suppress Criticism of U.S. Dist. Judge Graham” This term was particularly offensive because Mason made his living off the Internet, being a MCSE and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and CNE, Certified Novell Engineer.

    One Page Request to File Pleading

    On December 16, 2004, pursuant to the terms of the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, Mason filed a one page letter seeking permission to file a Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 60(b)(4) motion to disqualify Judge Graham. See Document No. 932. This one page letter stated that Judge Graham should have disqualified because he had, among other things, lied and intentionally misrepresented the law. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit had “forgot” or “overlooked” the issue of whether Judge Graham should have disqualified or not. See post this site, “Does A Mere Clause In a Sentence Represent Meaningful Appeal?” Incidentally, when the Eleventh Circuit and Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. and in particular, was told on a motion for rehearing that they “overlooked” the issue of whether or not Judge Graham should have disqualified, the Eleventh Circuit simply stated: “The petition(s) for rehearing filed by Appellant, Marcellus M. Mason, Jr., is DENIED“. See Order. On January 9, 2005, Judge Graham issued what he termed a “NOTICE OF HEARING”. See Document No. 933. Judge Graham claimed that it was supposed to be a “Status/Motion Hearing” set for January 14, 2005. Notwithstanding the fact that this was a civil case, Judge Graham ‘invited the following people: Frank Smith, U.S. Probation Office, Lynn Waxman, Appellate Attorney, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Waters. It is fair to say that in Judge Graham’s mind this “NOTICE OF HEARING” is important.

    The “Status/Motion Hearing”

    The “Status/Motion Hearing” was indeed held on January 14, 2005. There was no discussion of the merits of the impending motion or request to file a motion. Exactly what role would AUSA Robert Waters and Frank Smith, U.S. Probation, play in a civil matter? Judge Graham said the matter is over. Mason asked Judge Graham was he prohibiting the filing of a Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 60(b)(4)? Judge did not answer the question directly. He kept expressing his apparent personal opinion and desire for the matter to be over. Judge Graham exclaimed: “The Eleventh Circuit denied your appeal!” Judge Graham did not reduce any of his barking of commands to writing; instead he had his court reporter, C. Horenkamp, file an unsigned piece of paper called a ‘Civil Court Minutes’ on January 18, 2005. See Document No. 934. It appears that Judge Graham was attempting to “sua sponte” modify the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001. Until now, Judge Graham has declined to put his “commands” in writing. However, an open letter to Judge Graham has been posted to this site explaining, with case law, to Judge Graham that orders and/order injunctions must be reduced to writing. See this site posting, “Open Letter to Judge Donald L. Graham Dated April 3, 2008“. Additionally, Judge Graham was sent a letter directly to chambers. It is clear that Judge Graham is attempting bully Mason into submission without reducing his “commands” to writing where they can be documented, archived, and appealed. Judge Graham is clearly trying to circumvent the appellate process. Judge Graham wants to have it both ways in that he wants deny access to the courts by Mason, but he is not man enough to put it in writing! Man up! Judge Graham has no compunction about violating the ‘rule of law’.