Posts Tagged ‘The Appeal From Hell’

Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, Masters of Jugglery: Jurisdictional Challenge Converted To Summary Reversal Motion To Achieve Desired Outcome

June 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”
He’s a bad motherf^%##, Shut your mouth!

Point of This Post

This post will document how the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, used jugglery to avoid an outcome that the facts and the law would have required. Jugglery is defined as manipulation or trickery especially to achieve a desired end. This matter concerns an appeal in the Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 01-13664 and District Court Case No. 99-14027-CIV-DLG, Judge Donald L. Graham, presiding. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit converted a motion to determine jurisdiction that it must satisfy to a summary reversal motion that is discretionary. Having recharacterized the motion, the Eleventh Circuit, without citing any facts, simply said the summary reversal was not warranted. Simply put, the Eleventh Circuit refused to state why it had jurisdiction. This post is a part of the overall scheme to land a knockout blow to the American Bar Association’s koolaid of “Judicial Independence”. The ABA’s emphasis is on “Judicial Independence” and it resists “interference” from outsiders-Congress of the United States, Layman review boards. The ABA has said: “There are checks on the judiciary and channels to correct improper decisions. The appeal process affords litigants the opportunity to challenge a judicial ruling. About Us – ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence. This is the idealistic and theoretical basis for “Judicial Independence”; however, the reality or actual practice does not equal the ideals. Suppose for a moment that such a system does not work. Federal Judges will take extreme measures to avoid disciplining a colleague federal judge. See Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell for even more dishonest jurisprudence. Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome. Two posts at this site, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, document how the Eleventh Circuit will do anything to achieve the desired outcome as the Eleventh took two different and inconsistent positions with respect to the jurisdiction of the lower court or Judge Graham during the appeal of this very appeal. See Eleventh Circuit: Notice of Appeal Does Not Divest District Judge of Jurisdiction of Matters Involved In the Appeal! and Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal.

Premise

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree, It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance Company Of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994). “The courts, no less than the political branches of the government, must respect the limits of their authority.” Catholic Conf. v. Abortion Rights Mobilization, 487 U.S. 72 (1988)..

ISSUE: Whether the Eleventh Circuit Had Jurisdiction of the Appeal?

The Appellant submitted a Motion To Determine Jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court has stated in case after case that a jurisdictional challenge maybe raised at any time. Moreover, both courts have stated that all courts are under an independent obligation to review its jurisdiction even if no party raises the issue. In this matter, rather than discuss why or why it did not have jurisdiction of the appeal the Eleventh Circuit converted the Motion To Determine Jurisdiction in to a motion for summary reversal. Having converted the motion into a summary reversal, a discretionary form of relief, the Eleventh Circuit, in a mere conclusory fashion simply asserted that the standards for a summary reversal were not met. Rather than construing the Motion To Determine Jurisdiction, a pro se motion, liberally to achieve substantial justice, the Eleventh Circuit construed the motion to achieve its own end.

Eleventh Circuit’s Response to Jurisdictional Challenge

On April 15, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated: “Appellant’s “motion to determine jurisdiction,” and “motion to determine subject matter jurisdiction and standing,” which are construed as motions for summary reversal, and are DENIED.” See Order Denying Jurisdiction.

On May 17, 2002, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

“Appellant’s motion for clarification is GRANTED, and this Court’s April 15, 2002, Order clarified as follows: Appellant’s motions, which were construed as motions for summary reversal, were denied because Appellant failed to meet the standards for summary disposition. See Groendyke Transport v. Davis, 406 F.2d 1158, 1162 (5th Cir.) cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1012, 89 S.Ct. 1628, 23 L.Ed.2d 39 (1969).”

See Order Granting Clarification.

Citing the Law and omitting the facts, an all too familiar tactic of the Eleventh Circuit, is that decisions are made with recitation to a court case with no recitation to the facts of the instant case

What Do You Know From Reading The Order?

This post was designed with the decision first for the purpose of accentuating the lack of information in decision not to discuss jurisdiction. Reading only the decision above, answer the following questions:

  • Why does the Eleventh Circuit have jurisdiction?
  • What is the law regarding jurisdiction on appeal?
  • What are the facts that support the decision?
  • Why did the Eleventh Circuit construe the motion to determine jurisdiction as a motion for summary reversal?
  • Who benefited by construing the motion as a motion for summary reversal?

Law On Jurisdiction

[T]he Supreme Court has ruled that “it is not proper for federal courts to proceed immediately to a merits question despite jurisdictional objections.” In re Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association, 173 F.3d 866; 335 U.S. App. D.C. 327 (C.A.D.C. 1999)(citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 1012, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998) (without proper jurisdiction, a court cannot proceed at all, but can only note the jurisdictional defect and dismiss the suit)”). “On every writ of error or appeal, the first and fundamental question is that of jurisdiction, first, of this court, and then of the court from which the record comes. This question the court is bound to ask and answer for itself, even when not otherwise suggested, and without respect to the relation of the parties to it.Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 94. See also UNITED STATES of America v. Mery GIRALDO-PRADO, 150 F.3d 1328 (11th Cir. 1998) (“We have noted that a party may raise jurisdiction at any time during the pendency of the proceedings.”);

In a case involving Judge Graham, United States Of America v. Machado, No. 05-11420, D. C. Docket No. 97-00238-CR-DLG, 465 F.3d 1301pgs. 8,9 (11th Cir. 2006);2006 US App (11th) 398, the Eleventh Circuit held:

We are aware, of course, that “subject-matter jurisdiction . . . can never be forfeited or waived” and “[c]onsequently, defects in subject-matter jurisdiction require correction regardless of whether the error was raised in district court,” United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630, 122 S. Ct. 1781, 1785 (2002); see also Arbaugh v. Y& H Corp., ___ U.S. ___, ___, 126 S. Ct. 1235, 1240 (2006) (“The objection that a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction . . . may be raised by a party, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage in the litigation, even after trial and the entry of judgment.”). That principle is not, however, an exception to the requirements for appellate jurisdiction, and if those requirements are not met we cannot review whether a judgment is defective, not even where the asserted defect is that the district court lacked jurisdiction.

The Eleventh Circuit had a duty to not only review its own jurisdiction, but that of the lower court as well. Even if the neither the parties raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction the Eleventh Circuit is required to do so on its motion or sua sponte. See ALFRED L. BOCHESE v. TOWN OF PONCE INLET, No. 04-11542, 405 F.3d 964 (11th Cir. 2005)(“Although the parties have not raised the issue here, we are obliged to consider, sua sponte, the question of our subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case before us.“), http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200411542.pdf.

Federal courts are “obligated to inquire into subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking. “As a threshold matter, therefore, we must initially determine both whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider Williams’ Rule 60(b) motion and whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the district court’s denial of his motion.” WAYNE BERTRAM WILLIAMS v. BRUCE CHATMAN, No. 06-16115 (11th Cir. 2007),,(citing Cadet v. Bulger, 377 F.3d 1173, 1179 (11th Cir. 2004)). “An appellate court has a duty to consider sua sponte whether appellate jurisdiction is properly invoked.” John Andrew Mattingly v. Farmers State Bank, No.98-3234 (6th Cir. 1998), ELECTRONIC CITATION: 1998 FED App. 0262P (6th Cir.) File Name: 98a0262p.06 (citing Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wetzel, 424 U.S. 737, 740 (1976)).

“When a colorable question exists, an appellate court has an unflagging obligation to inquire sua sponte into its own jurisdiction.” Charlesbank Equity Fund Ii v. Blinds To Go, Inc., 370 F.3d 151 (1st Cir. 2004).

Construed or Screwed

“Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category. They may do so in order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal, to avoid inappropriately stringent application of formal labeling requirements, or to create a better correspondence between the substance of a pro se motion’s claim and its underlying legal basis. ” Castro v. United States (02-6683) 540 U.S. 375 (2003). “Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.” United States Of America v. Pierre Castma , No. 07-13531 (11th Cir. 2005)(quoting Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 1908 (2007)).See also United States Of America v. Gary William Holt, No. 04-15848, 417 F.3d 1172 (11th Cir. 2005)(“noting that a pro se motion should be liberally construed to afford review on any “legally justifiable base”)(citing Sanders v. United States, 113 F.3d 184, 187 (11th Cir.1997) (per curiam) (noting that a pro se motion should be liberally construed to afford review on any “legally justifiable base”)).

The clear intent of liberal construction is for the benefit of the pro se litigant and not to the detriment of the pro se litigant. In this matter, the Eleventh Circuit construed a Motion to Determine Jurisdiction to motion for summary reversal. This “construction” or recharacterization was to the detriment of Mason. The Eleventh Circuit took a mandatory motion which required it to assert facts and law to support both its jurisdiction and that of the lower court and converted it to a “summary reversal” motion. Had the Eleventh been unable to sufficiently support its jurisdiction and that of the lower court would have required a dismissal of the appeal. The Eleventh Circuit ran ahead to the finish line and saw who was going to win the race, consequently they changed the rules to guarantee the winner or outcome of the race. The Eleventh then construed the motion to determine jurisdiction into a motion for summary reversal which is a discretionary. Once the motion became discretionary, the Eleventh Circuit was free to avoid the outcome the facts would have demanded. It is difficult not to conclude that the rules were construed to achieve the desired outcome-vindication of Judge Graham.

Internal Operating Procedure

The Eleventh Circuit’s internal rules allows them to raise a jurisdictional issue at their discretion. 11th Cir. R. 31-1(e) (1999)states:

(e) Jurisdictional Question. If, upon review of the district court docket entries, order and/or judgment appealed from, and the notice of appeal, it appears that this court may lack jurisdiction over the appeal, the court may request counsel and pro se parties to advise the court in writing of their position with respect to the jurisdictional question(s) raised. The issuance of a jurisdictional question does not stay the time for filing briefs otherwise provided by this rule.

Motion To Determine Jurisdiction

Appellant’s Motion To Determine Jurisdiction was submitted on or about March 13, 2002. See Docket and Motion. This motion argued that the Eleventh Circuit did not have jurisdiction of the appeal because the alleged violations of preliminary injunctions, or orders that were granted on June 19, 2000, (DE #201), and July 25, 2000, (DE #246) were not lawful for the following reasons:

  • Magistrate is without legal authority to issue an injunction or a restraining order. See Motion, pps. 3,5-6.
  • These orders are invalid because the Defendants failed to file a complaint for an injunction or a restraining order.
  • These orders failed to meet the requirements for a “temporary Injunction” or “TRO”. See Motion, pg. 6,7.

Case Cited By Eleventh Circuit Supports Appellant

The Eleventh Circuit cited Groendyke Transport v. Davis, 406 F.2d 1158, 1162 (5th Cir.) cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1012, 89 S.Ct. 1628, 23 L.Ed.2d 39 (1969) for the proposition that a “summary reversal” was not warranted. However, Groendyke Transport actually supports Mason’s or the Appellant position. Firstly, Groendyke Transport, like the instant case involved the question of the validity of an injunction. Groendyke Transport, set forth two conditions that would warrant a summary disposal:

  • “The first comprises those cases where time is truly of the essence. This includes situations where important public policy issues are involved or those where rights delayed are rights denied.”
  • Second, are those in which the position of one of the parties is clearly right as a matter of law so that there can be no substantial question as to the outcome of the case…

The where rights delayed are rights denied position favors Mason. The injunctions issued in the instant case concerned First Amendment rights. These injunctions prohibited direct communications with the government. Secondly, one of the injunctions, (D.E. #246)(“”Plaintiff shall correspond only with Defendants’ counsel including any requests for public records.), implicated Florida Public Record requests. It is well settled and unremarkable that the “the loss of constitutional rights for even a minimal amount of time constitutes irreparable harm.” See Taubman Company v. Webfeats, 319 F.3d 770 (6th Cir. 2002). More importantly, according to the Supreme Court: “The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976); same 11th Cir., Cate v. Oldham, 707 F.2d 1176 (11th Cir. 1983)(“It is well settled that the loss of First Amendment freedoms for even minimal periods of time constitutes irreparable injury justifying the grant of a preliminary injunction.“); Gresham v. Windrush Partners, Ltd., 730 F.2d 1417 (11th Cir. 1984)(“first amendment rights violated sufficient to show irreparable injury because loss of first amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury“) .

The one of the parties is clearly right as a matter of law condition favors Mason the appellant. The best argument in support of the appellant is lack of legal citation or facts by the Eleventh Circuit. More importantly, the law favored Mason because a Magistrate can not issue an injunction. Assuming arguendo, a Magistrate could issue an injunction, Mason would have prevailed because order fails to meet the 4 prong requirements for a preliminary injunction.

BACKGROUND

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. 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, 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. “R&R” (D.E. 766), Order adopting R&R (D.E 791). See Banned Communications. In June and July 2000, Maria Sorolis and Brian Koji, Allen, Norton & Blue asked the Magistrate to grant them preliminary injunctions that required Mason to contact them before he could talk to the government defendants. These orders required Mason, a nonlawyer, living in Sebring, FL to contact private attorneys some 90 miles away in Tampa, FL . These orders were granted on June 19, 2000 and July 25, 2000 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.” (). 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. 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).

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”, recommending 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.

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).

Refusal To Cite Legal Authority

Judge Graham and his Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. have repeatedly refused to cite legal authority for these orders, (DE #201) and (DE #246), which required Mason to seek the approval of private attorneys, Allen, Norton & Blue, prior to petitioning the government. See Court 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)).

Do Staff Attorneys Decide Appeals At The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals?

June 12, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

This entire blog or website, mcneilmason.wordpress.com, is dedicated to illustrating the extreme measures that judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal have deployed to keep from disciplining U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, for abusive behavior and misconduct.

Questions For Consideration

If a mere pro se litigant filed an appeal which excoriated a supposed excellent jurist like U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, and accused him of judicial misconduct that could be proven, what do you think the staff attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit would do? The answer is the allegations will be simply be ignored by deploying an unpublished opinion that omits material facts. The author would prefer the reader to read the rest of this post to see how this is possible, but for those who can’t wait, please see:

Are Staff Attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals Deciding Cases and Appeals?

It is widely rumored, especially among mere pro se litigants, that staff attorneys, not United States Senate confirmed United States Circuit Court Of Appeals Judges, decide appeals in many cases. While this post will take a look at a couple of cases that the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal handled, there is no reason to believe that similar practices are not being deployed elsewhere. The overwhelming majority of opinions coming out of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are unpublished opinions which until recently could not be cited as binding authority. The evidence presented here will prove beyond a resonable doubt that staff attorneys, using unpublished opinions, do in fact decide cases, especially mere pro se cases or appeals.

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:

“The number of federal appeals court judgeships has not changed since 1990. In that same period, those courts’ caseloads increased by 41 percent. Of great aid to judges in the 12 regional appellate courts over those years have been the 12 court staff attorney offices…Judge Joel Dubina of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said, “We could not handle our caseload without the assistance of staff attorneys. The staff attorney office is an integral part of our court…”Core responsibilities vary among staff attorney offices, but in each appeals court they include review of all appeals filed by prison inmates without a lawyer’s help. Screening such “pro se” prisoner cases was the initial focus of staff attorney offices when they were formally authorized and established by Congress in 1982… Over time, the scope of the office’s substantive legal work expanded, involving staff attorneys in a larger percentage of the 60,000 federal appeals filed each year…Duties handled by staff attorney offices today range from screening all appeals, to drafting proposed opinions on preliminary matters, to preparing proposed orders, to reviewing pro se appeals for issues warranting oral arguments. Chief Judge William Wilkins said the productivity and reliability of the Fourth Circuit court’s staff attorney office allows judges and their law clerks to “minimize the time spent on the large number of pro se and counseled cases that do not present factual or legal issues that require oral argument for appropriate resolution.” “This enables us to allocate additional time to those more complex cases that are set for oral argument,” he said…In the Eleventh Circuit, staff attorneys, among other things, screen every appeal for possible jurisdictional defects. “We save the judges a lot of time by carefully going through volumes of handwritten and often imprecise legal arguments, and putting these in a form, along with citations to the record, briefs and applicable case law, that saves the judges time,” said Naomi Godfrey, the court’s senior staff attorney.”

See Staff Attorney Offices Help Manage Rising Caseloads.

A United States Circuit Judge on the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

It was U.S. 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 judgesare 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 an en banc court.

Cases Decided by Staff Attorneys

This post will refer the reader to three appeals that were decided by staff attorneys at the Eleventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeals: Case No. 01-13664, 01-15754, and 02-13418. Each of these appeals excoriates U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, however, you won’t see a word of the accusations leveled at Judge Graham in the opinions. U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham was accused of the following documented acts in the above appeals:

  • Lying and Intentionally misrepresenting the law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction during the entire pendency of the lawsuit from November 1999 to June 20, 2001 or about 19 months.
  • Judge Graham falsely completed a Civil Justice Reform Act Report, “CJRA” to conceal the fact that he had a motion for a preliminary injunction pending for more than 17 months.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate, Frank Lynch Jr., to issue preliminary injunctions two times.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to dictate to a non-lawyer that he must seek the permission of private attorneys in order to speak with a local government.
  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to set restrictions on how Florida Public Records are to be accessed.
  • Allowing scores of motions to go undecided for months.
  • Intentionally misstating material facts in order to render a pre-filing injunction.
  • Disrespecting several well-established Supreme Court decisions proscribing certain acts of Judges.
  • Judge Graham has repeatedly and improperly denied access to the courts by arbitrarily denying in forma pauperis, “IFP”, petitions 18 separate times.
  • Judge Graham has been involved in possible criminal behavior by issuing a void sua sponte pre-filing injunction which ultimately formed the basis of a criminal contempt complaint and conviction.
  • Judge Graham used the criminal contempt process to force the withdrawal of a lawsuit.
  • Judge Graham awarded a massive $200,000 in attorney’s fees to Highlands County against an indigent plaintiff, Marcellus Mason, not on the quality of the underlying lawsuit, but based upon Judge Graham’s speculation about Mason’s motive.
  • Judge Graham attempted to circumvent the appellate process by using intimidation.

For support of these allegations and others, see Core Allegations.

The three appeals mentioned above are fully set forth and explored in detail in the following posts:

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

May 28, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Point of This Post

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

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

Recap

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

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

A US Circuit Judge On the Potential Dangers of Unpublished Opinions

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

The Opinion

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

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

See Opinion, pgs. 13-14.

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

See Doc. 878, pg. 8.

Law On Jurisdiction During Appeal

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

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

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

Subsequent Decisions are Equally Dishonest

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Scope of Appeal

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Orders Issued Inconsistent With Due Process Are Void

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

Supreme Court’s Emphasis on Due Process

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

Case Law Against

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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