Posts Tagged ‘summary judgment’

Eleventh Circuit, US Court of Appeal Uses Unpublished Opinion of Three Judge Panel To Overrule Binding Published Opinion of An En Banc Court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The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, wanted to achieve the desired outcome so badly that it deployed an unpublished decision rendered by a three judge panel to overrule a legally binding opinion of an en banc court.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Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Case No. 01-13664-A,  (11th Cir. 2002), an unpublished decision, to Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 476 (5th Cir. 1980), a published opinion Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative involves a level of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.

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FEDERAL JUDGE VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT, TENTH AMENDMENT RECEIVES ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

May 8, 2008

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

Purpose of This Post

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 Additionally, this post will document the Eleventh Circuit’s affinity for deploying unpublished opinions that deliberately omit material facts in order to achieve the desired outcome.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

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

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT’S OPINION

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

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

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

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

What Judge Graham Was Sued For

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


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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

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

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

A United States Circuit Judge on the Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

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

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

Links To Briefs and Opinions

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

SHORT CASE SUMMARY

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


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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

(DE #246).

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

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

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

PREEMINENCE OF FLORIDA SUPREME COURT INTERPRETING FLORIDA LAW

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

ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY

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

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

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

The Acts Were Legislative Not Judicial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clear Absence of Jurisdiction

Lack of Jurisdiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implicit And Explicit Conclusions of Law

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

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

Judicial Misconduct

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

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

April 27, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

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

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

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

The Misstated Fact and Misrepresentation

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

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

The Misstated and Misleading “Facts”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Docket Entry No. 878, pg. 5.

The True Amount of Lawsuits Filed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honesty and Judicial Opinion Writing

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

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

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

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

Judicial Misconduct

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

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

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

http://www.uscourts.gov/library/judicialmisconduct/jcdopinions108.pdf :Pg. 8.

Judicial Independence advocates state:

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

Constitution Project, THE NEWSROOM GUIDE TO JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

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

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF PRE-FILING INJUNCTIONS

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

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

Importance of Motive in Filing a Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

(DE #246).

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

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

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

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

Florida Judge Thumbs His Nose at U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Due Process And Attorneys’ Fees

April 15, 2008

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

Preface

A district judge may not respectfully (or disrespectfully) disagree with his learned colleagues on his own court of appeals who have ruled on a controlling legal issue, or with Supreme Court Justices writing for a majority of the Court. Binding authority within this regime cannot be considered and cast aside; it is not merely evidence of what the law is. Rather, case law on point is the law. If a court must decide an issue governed by a prior opinion that constitutes binding authority, the later court is bound to reach the same result, even if it considers the rule unwise or incorrect. Binding authority must be followed unless and until overruled by a body competent to do so…A decision of the Supreme Court will control that corner of the law unless and until the Supreme Court itself overrules or modifies it. Judges of the inferior courts may voice their criticisms, but follow it they must.Hart v. Massanari, 266 F.3d 1155, 1170 (9th Cir. 2001).

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).

Question

If Judge Graham has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he allow Mason Due Process as required by the U.S. Supreme Court?

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).

SHORT CASE SUMMARY

Marcellus M. Mason, Jr. of Sebring, Fl. filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative and other governmental entities and individual government employees in February 1999. The case was originally assigned to then Chief Judge Edward Davis who retired. On February 20, 1999, Judge Davis allowed Mason to proceed in forma pauperis, “IFP”, or to proceed without paying the required filing fee for a lawsuit. Docket Entry No. 3. This case was ultimately assigned to Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr., Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. After protracted litigation, the case was dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), not on the merits of the case, but based upon banned and irrelevant out of court constitutionally protected and legal communications between Highlands County and Mason. See Report and Recommendation, “R&R” (D.E.766), Order adopting R&R (D.E791). See Banned Communications. Judge Graham declined to reach the merits of the case as there were summary judgment motions pending on the day the case was closed. See Docket Sheet, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 769);(Doc. 770), and the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as well, (Doc. 507); (Doc. 667); (Doc. 668); (Doc. 706); (Doc. 797). More Background. When the case was dismissed on June 20, 2001 Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. expressly stated that the lawsuit was not frivolous. “However, there remain, as this Court recommended, various viable claims for trial.” See Report and Recommendation, (D.E #766, pg. 5), and Order Adopting R&R, (D.E. 791).

The United States Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has unequivocally 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., 501 U.S. 32, 50 (1991). “The court must afford the sanctioned party due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees. Id. Due process requires that the attorney (or party) be given fair notice that his conduct may warrant sanctions and the reasons why… “ In Re Mroz, 65 F.3d 1567 (11th Cir. 1995); Thomas v. Tenneco Packaging Co., 293 F.3d 1306 (11th Cir. 2002); 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”); First Bank Of Marietta v. Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 21117,*25;2002 FED App. 0356P (6th Cir. 2002); In Re Atlantic Pipe Corp., 304 F.3d 136, 143 (1st Cir. 2002)(“[A] district court’s inherent powers are not infinite… the use of inherent powers must comport with procedural fairness.”) Lockary v. Kayfetz, 974 F.2d 1166,1170 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 1992); In re: Rimsat, 212 F.3d 1039 (7th Cir., 2000);In re Kujawa, 256 B.R. 598, 611-12 (Bankr.8 th Cir., 2000).

The Supreme Court on Attorney’s Fees

[A] plaintiff should not be assessed his opponent’s attorney’s fees unless a court finds that his claim was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless, or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.Christiansburg Garment Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 434 U.S. 412, 422 (1978). As stated above, Judge declined to reach the merits of the lawsuit, but instead dismissed the case because Mason continually attempted to “to directly communicate with the Defendants rather their attorneys, the Court enjoined Mason from any further contact with the Defendants or Defendants” employees. Mason, however, ignored the Court’s order and continued to contact the Defendants…On June 20, 2001, in view of Mason’s repeated refusal to comply with the Court’s rules and orders, the Court dismissed case number 99-14027..” See pgs. 4,5Docket No. 878, Sua Sponte Injunction. Additionally, there were summary judgments pending on the day the case was dismissed.

Judge Graham Defies The U.S. Supreme Court

On September 20, 2001, Judge Graham rendered a pre-filing injunction or vexatious litigant injunction sua sponte or without notice and opportunity to be heard. See Docket Entry Number 878, (D.E. # 878) Page 3, of this document boldly asserts: “THIS CAUSE came before the Court sua sponte.” Judge Graham then asserts his authority “Federal courts have “both inherent power and constitutional obligation to protect their jurisdiction from conduct which impairs their ability to carry out Article III functions.”” Even Judge Graham recognizes that there is constitutional right of access to the courts. See Pg. 7 (“This screening requirement best balances the interest in constitutionally mandated access to the federal courts..”). In this same sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction Judge Graham makes a so-called “finding of bad faith“.

Bad “Faith Finding”

It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith.. Such activity is in bad faith and will not be permitted by the Court.D.E. #878, pg. 5, 6, (“Bad Faith” section). See Bad Faith Case Law.

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

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

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

Award of Attorney’s Fees Based On “Bad Faith Finding” And Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

Judge Graham’s order, sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction, of September 20, 2001, also makes a specific finding of bad faith. Judge Graham stated, “It has become clear to the Court that Mason is proceeding in bad faith.” See Report And Recommendation, Docket Entry No. 882, and Order Adopting Report and Recommendation, Docket Entry No. 891 . As stated previously by the District Court and by this Court herein, Judge Graham has already made a finding of bad faith. This takes the case beyond the analysis of frivolity. See pg. 4.

Christiansburg Garment Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 434 U.S. 412 (1978). Here, it is clear that based upon Judge Graham’s previous findings of bad faith, that the Christiansburg standard is applicable. See pg. 3.  When the case was dismissed on June 20, 2001 Judge Graham and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. expressly stated that the lawsuit was not frivolous. “However, there remain, as this Court recommended, various viable claims for trial.” See Report and Recommendation, (D.E #766, pg. 5), and Order Adopting R&R, (D.E. 791).

PROOF JUDGE GRAHAM KNEW THE LAW AND SIMPLY IGNORED IT

After Judge Graham, rendered the sua sponte issued pre-filing injunction of September 20, 2001, Mason filed a motion demanding his due process rights on September 7, 2002. At pages 10, 11, this motion informs Judge Graham of due process rights with respect to pre-filing injunctions.

Prior to issuing this illegal injunction, this court failed to give Mason the required constitutional notice. See Tripati v. Beaman, 878 F.2d 351, 354(10th Cir. 1989)(litigant “is entitled to notice and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order before it is instituted”); In re Oliver, 682 F.2d 443, 445 (3d Cir. 1982); Matter Of Hartford Textile Corp., 681 F.2d 895,896 (2nd Cir. 1982); Werner v. State Of Utah, 32 F.3d 1446, 1448 (10th Cir. 1994); Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027, 1038 (3rd Cir. 1993); Cok v. Family Court Of Rhode Island, 985 F.2d 32, 35 (1st Cir. 1993).

However, on January 23, 2003, Judge Graham simply states:

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

See Docket Entry No. 928.

Florida Judge Thumbs His Nose at U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Poor People’s Right to Access The Courts

April 14, 2008

Judge Donald L. Graham

Preface

A district judge may not respectfully (or disrespectfully) disagree with his learned colleagues on his own court of appeals who have ruled on a controlling legal issue, or with Supreme Court Justices writing for a majority of the Court. Binding authority within this regime cannot be considered and cast aside; it is not merely evidence of what the law is. Rather, case law on point is the law. If a court must decide an issue governed by a prior opinion that constitutes binding authority, the later court is bound to reach the same result, even if it considers the rule unwise or incorrect. Binding authority must be followed unless and until overruled by a body competent to do so…A decision of the Supreme Court will control that corner of the law unless and until the Supreme Court itself overrules or modifies it. Judges of the inferior courts may voice their criticisms, but follow it they must.Hart v. Massanari, 266 F.3d 1155, 1170 (9th Cir. 2001).

“”Thumbing your nose at the U.S. Supreme Court is almost unheard of in the judicial system,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director.” U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham denied an indigent, Marcellus Mason, access to the courts no less than 18 times for no apparent reason by denying in forma pauperis motions. See IFP Mockery. The Supreme Court has said that an in forma pauperis application may only be denied if the allegation of poverty is untrue or if the lawsuit is frivolous. Judge Graham failed to cite any reason for these denials. These denials represent an apparent snub and disdain for the United States Supreme Court and the Congress. If Judge Graham won’t respect the law and the United States Supreme Court then who should?

Definition of In Forma Pauperis

In forma pauperis (IFP) is a legal term derived from the Latin
phrase in the character or manner of a pauper. In the United States, the IFP designation is given by both state and federal courts to someone who is without the funds to pursue the normal costs of a lawsuit or a criminal defense. The status is usually granted by a judge without a hearing, and entitles the person to a waiver of normal costs, and sometimes in criminal cases the appointment of counsel. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_forma_pauperis.


The United States Supreme Court

The federal in forma pauperis 28 U.S.C. §1915, allows an indigent litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. The statute protects against abuses of this privilege by allowing a district court to dismiss the case “if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27…1915(d) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis “if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). [a] court may dismiss a claim as factually frivolous only if the facts alleged are “clearly baseless,” [internal citations omitted] , a category encompassing allegations that are “fanciful,” “fantastic, “and “delusional,. [A] finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them. An in forma pauperis complaint may not be dismissed, however, simply because the court finds the plaintiff’s allegations unlikely. Some improbable allegations might properly be disposed of on summary judgment, but to dismiss them as frivolous without any factual development is to disregard the age-old insight that many allegations might be “strange, but true; for truth is always strange, Stranger than fiction. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992).

Examples Of Judge Graham’s Arbitrary Denials and Arrogance

(D.E. 9, Case No. 00-14201-CIV-GRAHAM/LYNCH)

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

(D.E. 877, Case No. 99-14027-CIV-GRAHAM/LYNCH) (This order denied three motions to proceed IFP, (DE #796, #799,& #811)

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Plaintiff’s Motion for Permission to Appeal in forma pauperis and Affidavit (D.E. #899). THE COURT having considered the motion, the pertinent portions of the record and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Motion is DENIED.

These statements are the only explanations Judge Graham has offered for these denials. As a matter of fact, Judge Graham has 16 more denials like this where he arbitrarily denied Marcellus Mason in forma pauperis. If Judge Graham won’t respect the law and the United States Supreme Court then who should?

Judge Graham Admits He Knows the Law And Expressly Rejects the U.S. Supreme Court

It appears that Judge Graham has the power to create, by apparent fiat, his own rules and laws when he sees fit with respect to in forma pauperis applications. Quoting Herrick v. Collins, 914 F.2d 228 (11th Cir. 1990), a case cited by Judge Graham to Mason on least two occasions, see 00-14202,(DE #10, dtd. 11-2-2000); 00-14201, (DE #10, dtd. 11-21-2000), 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (1988) states in pertinent part:


(d) The court may . . . dismiss the case if . . . satisfied that the action is frivolous or
malicious
.

On September 7, 2002, Judge Graham was presented with a “MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND SUPPORTING AFFIDAVIT, PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO DISQUALIFY, PLAINTIFF’S DEMAND TO RESCIND INJUNCTION FORTHWITH, AND PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PUBLICATION”. See Docket Entry No. 914, pdf (1.8 meg, very large), or Microsoft Word 97 Doc.(1.89K, small). This motion specifically informs Judge Graham of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legal requirements with respect to in forma pauperis.

According to the rules and case law authority promulgated by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Congress of the United States, the elected representatives of the people, “§ 1915(d) authorizes federal courts to dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis “if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). See also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27 (1992).” This Court has denied Mason’s in forma pauperis applications on eleven occasions for no stated reason at all, see below. “While a trial court has broad discretion in denying an application to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1915, it must not act arbitrarily and it may not deny the application on erroneous grounds.” Pace v. Evans, 709 F.2d 1428, 1429 (11th Cir. 1983) . See also Flowers v. Turbine Support Division, 507 F.2d 1242, 1244 (5th Cir.1975)(“[I]n denying such applications [in forma pauperis]a court must not act arbitrarily. Nor may it deny the application on erroneous grounds.). On two occasions this Court has denied Mason’s in forma pauperis applications for nebulous, unintelligible, and indeterminate reasons, see below. On four different occasions this has created a “pending litigation and previous denial reason,” see below. In order to deny an in forma pauperis application, a specific procedure must be followed, assuming this Court intends to follow the law. “If the district court grants the motion, the party may proceed on appeal without prepaying or giving security for fees and costs. If the district court denies the motion, it must state its reasons in writing.” FRAP 24(a)(2). Liles v. South Carolina Dept. Of Corrections, 414 F.2d 612 (4th Cir. 1969)(citing 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)(“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 Docket No. 914.

When Judge Graham read this motion his only reply with respect to the motion to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis and the Supreme Court’s edict was:

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

See Docket No. 928.
Consequently, it is clear that Judge Graham’s knows the rules with respect to granting in forma pauperis.