Posts Tagged ‘notice of appeal’

In Forma Pauperis Statute Abused To Conceal Acts Of Judicial Misconduct Committed By U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham

October 19, 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!!

Purpose Of In Forma Pauperis Statutes

The federal in forma pauperis statute, enacted in 1892 and presently codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is designed to ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the federal courts.  (internal citations omitted). Toward this end, § 1915(a) allows a litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal court in forma pauperis by filing in good faith an affidavit stating, inter alia, that he is unable to pay the costs of the lawsuit. Congress recognized, however, that a litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits.”  Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U. S. 319, 324 (1989).  U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, the subject of this post, has a long and documented history or pattern and practice of arbitrary denials of in forma pauperis motions.  See http://mmason.freeshell.org/ifp.html.  A complaint of judicial misconduct was filed against Judge Graham for abitrarily denying ifp motions on 18 different occasions without offering either of the legal reasons allowed for denying in forma pauperis status. See Neitzke, at 490 U.S. 324(“§ 1915(d) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis ‘if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.“) However, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, who is charged with with “investigating” allegations of misconduct does not agree that a pattern and practice of intentionally disregarding the law is judicial misconduct.  In Judicial Misconduct Complaint No. 05-0020, Judge Edmondson stated:

In this complaint Mr. Mason, although worded differently that his previous complaints, re-makes the allegation that Judge Graham denied him access to the courts by summarily denying a string of motions for in forma pauper status and that Judge Graham did not identify either of the only two reasons allowed for such denial.

The allegations of this Complaint are “directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling” and “successive”. Therefore, pursuant to Chapter 16 of Title 28 U.S.C. § 352(b)(I)(ii) and Addendum III Rules 4(b)(2) and 18(e), this Complaint is DISMISSED.

Judge Edmondson disagrees with his own Judicial Conference whose guidance he is obligated to follow who has clearly stated:

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

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Judicial Conference, Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, See http://www.uscourts.gov/library/judicialmisconduct/jcdopinions108.pdf
.

Introduction

Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, abused the in forma pauperis to stop an appeal, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664, from going forward.  Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664, an unpublished opinion, has been dubbed the “appeal from hell” for its lawlessness, dishonesty, and ingenuity in attempting to defeat an appeal.  This remarkable story, “Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell“,  is fully documented at:
https://mcneilmason.wordpress.com/eleventh-circuit-case-no-01-13664-the-appeal-from-hell/
.  This particular post documents how U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham and the Eleventh Circuit abused the in forma pauperis statutes, 28 U.S.C. §1915, in order to deny appellate review of allegations of misconduct against Judge Graham.  These allegations included, but definitely are not limited to, the following:

  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction that had been pending for more than 17 months.
  • Allowing scores of motions and filings to languish without being decided.
  • Usurping legal authority. Allowing a Magistrate to issue an injunction prohibiting direct communication with the Highlands County Government.  Additionally, prohibiting  Marcellus Mason from making public records request under Florida Law directly to Highlands County.
  • Violating clearly established law and the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court by issuing pre-filing injunctions without notice and opportunity to be heard.
  • Abuse of the criminal contempt procedure.  Judge Graham took a clearly invalid sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction and made it the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.
  • Lying and intentionally misrepresenting material facts.
  • Ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court denying access to the courts by refusing to state any reason for denying IFP applications.
  • Awarding attorneys’ fees against an indigent plaintiff in total
    disregard of the law and the United States Supreme Court.

This post is part of an overall pattern and practice of using extreme measures and lawlessness to conceal the misconduct of Judge Graham.  See Documented Allegations of Misconduct.  Incidentally, while not relevant to the discussion of this post, the Eleventh Circuit’s Chief Judge, J.L. Edmondson, has fought tooth and nail to keep from addressing a documented pattern and practice of disregarding well established law by Judge Graham.  See mmason.freeshell.org/372c or mmason.freeshell.org/edmondson/edmondson.  Judge Graham’s misconduct and Judge’s Edmondson’s defense of Judge Graham’s misconduct are fully documented in the following judicial misconduct complaints:

No. 01-0054No. 01-0054-Judicial Council; No. 01-0068; No. 01-68-Judicial Council; INTERVENING MANDAMUS; No. 02-0006; No. 02-0006 -Judicial Council; No. 02-0029; No. 02-0034; No. 02-0052; No. 02-0059; COMPLAINTS FILED IN 2005; No. 05-0008; No. 05-0011; No. 05-0012; No. 05-0013; No. 05-0020; No. 05-0021.

The following complaints of judicial misconduct are currently pending against Judge Graham:

Complaint Status

Judicial Conference
pending

Reconsideration
pending

June 25, 2008
pending

July 9, 2008
pending

July 15, 2008
pending

Material Facts

On February 22, 1999, Judge Edward B. Davis allowed Marcellus Mason to file a lawsuit without paying the filing fees, or in forma pauperis, “IFP”, due to indigency.  See Order, (D.E. #3)(“Having examined the Plaintiff’s Motion and Financial Affidavit, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has demonstrated his inability to pay fees or give security in this matter, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court also finds that Plaintiff appears to have brought this action in good faith.;”).  Judge Davis retired and the case was assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham.  The case was ultimately dismissed on June 20, 2001.

The case was dismissed on June 20, 2001. (D.E. 791).

A Notice of Appeal was filed on June 25, 2001. (D.E. 795)

The case was assigned Case No. 01-13664 by the Eleventh Circuit.

A motion to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis was filed on July 13, 2001. (D.E. #799).  A second motion to proceed in forma pauperis was filed on August 10, 2001.  (D.E. #811).

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. denied both pending motions [(D.E. #799), (D.E. #811)] to proceed in forma pauperis(D.E. #877).   This order states:

THIS CAUSE having come on to be heard upon an Order of Reference from the Honorable Donald L. Graham, dated September 10, 2001, and this Court having reviewed the aforementioned Motions and the pertinent portions of the record, and noting that in other actions filed by Plaintiff, Judge Graham has denied Plaintiff’ s motions to proceed in forma pauperis (Case Nos. 00-14116, 00-14201 , 00-14202, 00-14240), and further noting that this Court has compared Plaintiff’s previously filed IFP motions and accompanying affidavits with the instant motion and affidavit and has found no relevant difference, and being otherwise advised in the premises , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis are DENIED .

See (D.E. #877).

On December 12, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit denied an in forma pauperis motion by simply asserting:

Appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED because appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.  See Moreland v. Wharton, 899 F.2d 1168, 1170 (11th Cir. 1990) (holding that right to proceed IFP is not absolute, but rather is left to the sound discretion of the court.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 1.

Imagine how you would feel if someone accused you of something and refused to provide facts to support their allegation! This is anti-American.  Upon receiving the order denying IFP, the appellant, Mason filed a motion for clarification begging the Eleventh Circuit for the factual basis for its assertion that “appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.”  However, the Eleventh Circuit refused to provide facts to support its conclusion and simply stated:

Appellant has filed a “motion for reconsideration and clarification,” which is construed as a motion for reconsideration of this Court’s order dated December 12, 2001, denying leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis. Upon reconsideration, appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 2.

Prior Approval

As stated above, Mason was allowed initially allowed to proceed in forma pauperis by Judge Edward Davis.  See Order, (D.E. #3).  It is well established that once a party has been allowed to proceeded in forma pauperis in the district court, the party is allowed to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis automatically unless the district judge finds that the party is proceeding in bad faith.   In Starks v. State Of Florida, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 26270 (11th Cir. 2007), the Eleventh Circuit, Judges J.L. Edmondson, R. Lanier Anderson, and Rosemary Barkett, presiding, granted in forma pauperis on appeal where the district court found that the underlying complaint or lawsuit was frivolous.   Fed.R.App.P. Rule 24(a) states:

Rule 24. Proceeding in Forma Pauperis

(a) Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.

(3) Prior Approval. A party who was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in the district-court action, or who was determined to be financially unable to obtain an adequate defense in a criminal case, may proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization, unless the district court–before or after the notice of appeal is filed–certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith or finds that the party is not otherwise entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. In that event, the district court must state in writing its reasons for the certification or finding.

The Notes to Fed.R.App.P. Rule 24(a) state:

NOTES OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON RULES–1967:

“The second paragraph permits one whose indigency has been previously determined by the district court to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without the necessity of a redetermination of indigency, while reserving to the district court its statutory authority to certify that the appeal is not taken in good faith, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), and permitting an inquiry into whether the circumstances of the party who was originally entitled to proceed in forma pauperis have changed during the course of the litigation. Cf. Sixth Circuit
Rule 26.”   

A string of appellate courts have parroted the provisions of Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

  • “Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which governs our own in forma pauperis practice, permits any litigant who has been allowed to proceed in an action in the District Court in forma pauperis to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization, unless the District Court certifies that the ‘appeal is not taken in good faith or shall find that the party is otherwise not entitled so to proceed” McKelton v. Bruno , 428 F.2d 718; 138 U.S.App.D.C. 366 ¶4(D.C. Cir. 1970).
  • “”If a litigant is granted i.f.p. status in a district court, and if that status is not revoked in the district court, the litigant, upon filing a notice of appeal, continues on appeal in i.f.p. status. Fed.R.App.P. 24(a)”  Leonard v. Lacy, 88 F.3d 181n.2(2nd Cir. 1996).
  • “Normally, when a litigant is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis by the district court, this status carries over in the Court of Appeals.  Fed.R.App.P. 24(a). However, if the district court dismisses the case as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(d), the litigant must reapply to this Court to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, since a finding of frivolousness is viewed as a certification that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(a); Fed.R.App.P. 24(a). Dismissal of a complaint by the district court under Rule 12(b)(6) or any other rule does not negate the in forma pauperis status. Because the district court dismissed the complaint using the language of Rule 12(b)(6), and not as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(d), there was no need to again grant Oatess leave to proceed in forma pauperis.” Oatess v. Sobolevitch, 914 F.2d 428 n.4(3rd Cir. 1990).
  • “[W]e are mindful of the provisions of Fed.R.App.P. 24(a) concerning appeals in forma pauperis. This rule provides that a party who has been permitted to proceed in the district court in forma pauperis ‘may proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization unless, * * * the district court shall certify that the appeal is not taken in good faith or shall find that the party is otherwise not entitled so to proceed, in which event the district court shall state in writing the reasons for such certification or finding.'”  Liles v. The South Carolina Department Of Corrections, 414 F.2d 61214(4th Cir. 1969).  “In case the district court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith, the required written statement must show not merely that the appeal lacks merit, but that the issues raised are so frivolous that the appeal would be dismissed in the case of a nonindigent litigant. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 82 S.Ct. 917, 8 L.Ed.2d 21 (1962); Ellis v. United States, 356 U.S. 674, 78 S.Ct. 974, 2 L.Ed.2d 1060 (1958).  Additionally, an appeal is properly denied as lacking the requisite good faith where there is a clear indication that the conduct of an indigent appellant amounts to a deliberate harassment of the courts or an intentional abuse of the judicial process” id. n.1.
  • “(1) a district court may certify that an IFP appeal is not taken in good faith under section 1915(a)(3) and Rule 24(a); (2) if the trial court does so, it is required under Rule 24(a) to set forth in writing the reasons for its certification;”  Baugh v. Taylor, 117 F.3d 197 ¶23(5th Cir. 1997).
  • “Under Fed.R.App.P. 24, a party granted ifp status in the district court retains that status on appeal unless the district court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith, in which case the district court must state in writing the reasons for the certification.”  Williams v. Shettle,  914 F.2d 260, ¶4(7th Cir. 1990).
  • “Thus, it is clear that a party may appeal in forma pauperis without making application for a certificate when he has already been permitted by the district court to proceed in forma pauperis. The only time a party is prevented from taking an appeal is when the trial court, before or after the notice of appeal is filed, certifies in writing that the appeal is not taken in good faith. When this occurs the petitioner may still seek a certificate from this court or the Supreme Court.” 
    Peterson v. UNITED STATES of America, 467 F.2d 892 (8th Cir. 1972)
    .
  • “”Petitioner renews his motion to proceed in forma pauperis in this court. This motion is moot, however, because Petitioner is already entitled to proceed in forma pauperis: Petitioner proceeded in forma pauperis in the district court, and the district court never certified that the appeal was not taken in good faith or found that the Petitioner was otherwise not entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3); Singleton v. Hargett 1999 WL 606712 at *1 n.2 (10th Cir. 1999) (unpublished opinion) (dismissing as moot petitioner’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the court of appeals).  “Because he was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in the district court, and because there has been no change to that designation, Petitioner retains his in forma pauperis status on appeal pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3).” Id. See also Celske v. Edwards, 165 F.3d 396, 398 (7th Cir. 1998) (holding that the petitioner retained his leave to proceed in forma pauperis in the court of appeals because the district court had made no certification of bad faith).  Rhodes v. True, No. 99-3026 (10th Cir. 1999).

There is no finding by Judge Graham that the appeal was taken in bad faith, consequently the law was disregarded.  Judge Graham’s order denying in forma pauperis states the following:

THIS CAUSE having come on to be heard upon an Order of Reference from the Honorable Donald L. Graham, dated September 10, 2001, and this Court having reviewed the aforementioned Motions and the pertinent portions of the record, and noting that in other actions filed by Plaintiff, Judge Graham has denied Plaintiff’ s motions to proceed in forma pauperis (Case Nos . 00-14116, 00-14201 , 00-14202, 00-14240), and further noting that this Court has compared Plaintiff’s previously filed IFP motions and accompanying affidavits with the instant motion and affidavit and has found no relevant difference, and being otherwise advised in the premises , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis are DENIED.

See (D.E. #877).

The Eleventh Circuit, without offering a scintilla of proof, simply asserts:

Appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED because appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees.  See Moreland v. Wharton, 899 F.2d 1168, 1170 (11th Cir. 1990) (holding that right to proceed IFP is not absolute, but rather is left to the sound discretion of the court.

See Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 1. Notions of fundamental fairness without recitation to the law would require the Eleventh Circuit to support its conclusion that the “appellant has not truthfully provided this Court with information concerning his ability to pay the filing and docketing fees“.  Consequently, Mason filed a motion for rehearing demanding to know the factual basis for the Eleventh Circuit’s conclusion that Mason had been untruthful.  The Eleventh Circuit absolutely refused to provide a factual basis to support its conclusion.

Appellant has filed a “motion for reconsideration and clarification,” which is construed as a motion for reconsideration of this Court’s order dated December 12, 2001, denying leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis. Upon reconsideration, appellant’s motion for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis is DENIED.

See  Case No. 01-13664 IFP Order, pg. 2.

Disregarding Good Faith Requirement

Judge Donald L. Graham and the Eleventh Circuit both ignored the good faith requirement as their denials do not assert that the appeal was not taken in good faith much less provide any proof that the appeal was not taken in good faith.

A petitioner demonstrates good faith when he seeks appellate review of any issue that is not frivolous.  See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).  “Dismissal of an in forma pauperis complaint is appropriate when the claim is based on ‘indisputably meritless legal theory or factual allegations are clearly baseless.'”  Heghmann v. Indorf, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 767,*;324 B.R. 415; (1st Cir. 2005). “[I]f a judge is convinced, as the judge was here, that there is no substantial question for review and an appeal is frivolous and therefore futile, it is his duty to certify that the appeal sought to be taken in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith.” Parsell v. UNITED STATES of America, 218 F.2d 232 ¶25(5th Cir. 1955).  In Johnson v.Dencek, 868 F.2d 969 (7th Cir. 1989), the court remanded the case for a determination that the appeal was not taken in good faith where the district failed to make the determination.  In Johnson, the court ultimately allowed the plaintiff to appeal in forma pauperis notwithstanding the district findings of frivolousness that was predicated upon the plaintiff’s attorney conclusion that the lawsuit lacked merit.

Lack of Respect For the Supreme Court

Both Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit have disregarded the Supreme Court by making denials of in forma pauperis without providing any factual support for their decisions. This type of behavior is commonly referred to as a summary denial.  The U.S. Supreme Court has condemned summary denials of in forma pauperis.  The Supreme Court has stated that a court cannot deny in forma pauperis by simply making conclusory statements without stating supporting facts.  In Cruz v. Hauck, 404 U.S. 59, 61 (1971), the Supreme Court opined:

The benefits of this generous provision [in forma pauperis], now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915, have been limited, however, by the important proviso added in 1910 (36 Stat. 866) which, as now amended, reads: “An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith.” “Good faith” has been defined as a requirement that an appeal present a nonfrivolous question for review. If the district court certifies that an appeal would not present such a question, then an indigent may ask the court of appeals for permission to proceed in forma pauperis. That court must grant the renewed motion if after a de novo determination it disagrees with the district court’s application of the good faith test. If both lower courts refuse permission, then, unless this Court vacates the court of appeals’ finding, the pauper’s appeal is ended without a hearing on the merits. See Fed.Rule App.Proc. 24(a). It is important that, in all of these proceedings, the only cognizable issue is whether a summary survey (as opposed to plenary deliberation) suggests that a substantial argument could be presented…Our holdings have steadily chipped away at the proposition that appeals of the poor can be disposed of solely on summary and abbreviated inquiries into frivolity, rather than upon the plenary consideration granted paying appellants.

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.

Another One Bites the Dust: Same Set of Facts, Judge Graham Affirmed While Colleague Judge Forrester Reversed

July 24, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct. Judge Graham has a history of insolence with [dis]respect the United States Supreme Court and binding precedent. See this site, “Is U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham Willfully Defying The United States Supreme Court?“.

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida and in the Eleventh Circuit when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. and elsewhere in the Eleventh Circuit are reversed. In this post, U.S. Dist. J. Owen Forrester is “victimized” by the published opinion.  This is the fifth of five postings on this site where this has happened. U.S. Dist. Judges Daniel T. K. Hurley, Ursula Ungaro-Benages, Marvin H. Shoob, and William P. Dimitrouleas, met similar fates. See posting this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“, ““Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal“, U.S. Dist. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas Reversed While Colleague Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed by Killing The Appeal, and Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata. In each case the Eleventh Circuit chose to deploy an unpublished opinion to affirm and protect Judge Graham while his colleagues suffered reversals in published opinions. It is difficult to see how such a system advances the notion of equal justice. It would seem that justice is a function not of the “rule of law”, but of whether or not the judge is favored by the appellate courts.

Mason sought to appeal a sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that was rendered by U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham on September 20, 2001. See “The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction“, heading below. Sua sponte issued pre-filing injunctions are void because they are issued without notice and opportunity to respond or due process. See, Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions, below. Additionally, this sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is void because it made a so-called “finding of bad-faith” without the requisite notice and opportunity to respond or due process. The Eleventh Circuit has a long history of refusing to review this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sets Guiness World Record For Refusing to Review.

Judicial Independence

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

Judge J. Owen Forrester and the Published Opinion

U.S. Dist. Judge J. Owen Forrester was reversed on appeal where he dismissed a prisoner 28 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit, sua sponte, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted because the statute of limitations precluded the prisoner from stating a claim. On July 20, 2000, the district court entered a two and one-half page order dismissing Leal’s suit, sua sponte, under the PLRA’s screening provisions, 27 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Arsenio Leal v. Georgia Department Of Corrections, 254 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001). On August 23, 2000, the prisoner filed his notice of appeal from the dismissal. Ultimately, the court held that the notice of appeal was timely filed and proceeded to reverse Judge Forrester. If the Eleventh Circuit had used the same “rule of law” it used in Marcellus Mason v. Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al., Case No. 02-14646-A, D. C. Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham, U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, presiding, then it should have dismissed the appeal as untimely and not reversed Judge Forrester.

However, in Judge Forrester’s case, Arsenio Leal v. Georgia Department Of Corrections, 254 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001), the Eleventh Circuit held that

However, the 30-day appeal period does not begin to run until a final judgment is entered on a separate document pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 58 and 79(a).2 See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(7) (“A judgment or order is entered for purposes of Rule 4(a) when it is entered in compliance with Rule 58 and 79(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure”). Here, the district court entered an order dismissing Leal’s suit on July 20, but the court failed to enter a final judgment on a separate document pursuant to Rule 58. Because “the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58 . . . there is no lack of appellate jurisdiction on the basis of untimeliness” even though Leal did not file his notice of appeal until August 23.

Similarly, in Reynolds v. Golden Corral Corporation, 213 F.3d 1344 (11th Cir. 2000), the Eleventh Circuit held that

“[C]ases from both the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal make it clear that the time to file a notice of appeal does not begin to run until a separate judgment is entered pursuant to Rule 58. See, e.g., United States v. Indrelunas, 411 U.S. 216, 93 S.Ct. 1562 (1973).”

As documented below, the Eleventh Circuit in an unpublished decision, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-14646-A, held that a notice of appeal was untimely where it preceded the final judgment. Unlike Arsenio Leal and Reynolds, the Eleventh Circuit held that Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, June 24, 2002, was untimely even though it preceded the final judgment, September 13, 2002 by almost three months. Stated alternatively, there was no separate final judgment when Mason filed his notice of appeal.

Judge Donald L. Graham and the Unpublished Opinion

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-14646-A

D. C. Case No. 99-14027-CIV, Teflon Don, presiding.

On February 19, 2002, Defendants, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al. filed a Motion for Entry of Final Judgment. (D.E. #897).

On September 13, 2002, the Defendant’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment was granted and a final judgment was entered. See (D.E. #911). Judge Graham stated:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment (D.E. 897)…ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED. Final Judgment is entered in favor of Defendant and costs….

See (D.E. #911).

On October 7, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeal stated:

This appeal is DISMISSED, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant Marcellus Mason’s notice of appeal, filed on June 24, 2002, is untimely from the district court’s order enjoining him from filing additional pleadings, entered on September 21, 2001. See Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(1)(A) & 26(a)(3).

No motion for reconsideration may be filed unless it complies with the timing and other requirements of 11th Cir.R. 40-4 and all other applicable rules.

.

Long History of Refusing to Review the Sua Sponte Issued Pre-filing Injunction

The Eleventh Circuit has refused to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction no less than eight (8) times. The reasons for refusing to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction is different each time. The following cases provided the Eleventh Circuit with the opportunity to review the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction:

Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal, Oct. 16, 2002 is particularly offensive because the Eleventh Circuit struck Mason’s appellate brief because it argued against that the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction that the Eleventh Circuit stated was “beyond the scope of appeal”. However, when the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Judge Graham in its decision it then used the same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction to affirm Judge Graham. See Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal. This appeal, Case No. 01-13664 has been referred to as the “appeal from hell”. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell. Lastly, and even more offensive and egregious, the Eleventh Circuit sat idly by while Mason was being railroaded in a kangaroo court for contempt based solely upon this clearly void sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction. See Eleventh Circuit Sits Idly By While A Clearly Void Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction Wreaks Havoc On A Man’s Life. Clearly, a decision has been taken that Judge Graham’s career is more important than Mason’s life.

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Foreword

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

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

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

Judicial Independence

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

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

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


Case No. 01-13664-A, Direct Appeal

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

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

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

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

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

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


Case No, 01-15754, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearing Denied

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

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

Rehearing Denied

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


Case No. 01-16218

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

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

See Opinion Case No. 01-16218.


Case No. 02-11476-A

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

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

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


Case No. 02-14646, Mandamus

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

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


Case No. 04-11894, Mandamus

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

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

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

At page 3, the Court asserts:

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

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


Case No. 05-10623-I, Mandamus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

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

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


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Pre-filing Restrictions

1. Plaintiff Marcellus M. Mason is Permanently enjoined

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

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

See Docket Entry No. 878.

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

May 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

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

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

Recap

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

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

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

The Opinion

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

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

See Opinion, pgs. 13-14.

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

See Doc. 878, pg. 8.

Law On Jurisdiction During Appeal

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

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

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

Subsequent Decisions are Equally Dishonest

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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).

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

April 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

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

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

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

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

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

United States Supreme Court

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

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

If a document filed within the time specified by Rule 4 gives the notice required by Rule 3, it is effective as a notice of appeal.“); Rinaldo v. Corbett, 256 F.3d 1276, 1279-80 (11th Cir.2001)To perform its function a notice of appeal must specify the parties taking the appeal, designate the judgment or order being appealed, and name the court to which the appeal is being taken. Fed. R.App. P. 3(c)(1). That is all.Main Drug, Inc. v. Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 475 F.3d 1228 (11th Cir. 2007).

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

Basis of Mandamus or Appeal

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

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

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

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

Is The Eleventh Circuit An Advocate for Judge Graham?

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

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

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

Rehearing Denied

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

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

Rehearing Denied

Personal Responsibility and Integrity of the Judges

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