Posts Tagged ‘unpublished opinion’

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

July 24, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

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

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Dimitrouleas Reversed While Colleague Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed by Killing The Appeal, and Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata. In each case the Eleventh Circuit chose to deploy an unpublished opinion to affirm and protect Judge Graham while his colleagues suffered reversals in published opinions.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

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

Judicial Independence

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

Judge J. Owen Forrester and the Published Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Donald L. Graham and the Unpublished Opinion

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-14646-A

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

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

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

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

See (D.E. #911).

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

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

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

.

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

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

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

The Sua Sponte Issued Pre-Filing Injunction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Access To Courts is Constitutionally Protected

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

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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).

US Circuit Judge Ed Carnes Undermines U.S. Supreme Court By Imposing Hobson’s Choice

May 23, 2008

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

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.

Purpose of this Post

This post will take an Opinion of Judge Ed Carnes and demonstrate that he nefariously contorted the law and facts in order to achieve the desired outcome. The desired outcome was a vindication of Judge Donald L. Graham by any means necessary. Judge Carnes ruled that a Magistrate’s designation of his own order is controlling on an U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. The purpose of this post is to:

  • To establish the opinion in this post as a part of an overall pattern and practice of lawlessness.
  • To set forth facts to prove that there is two bodies of law. The “rule of law” as set forth in published opinions and a secret underground body of law set forth in unpublished opinions that have little or nothing to do with the “rule of law”.
  • To show that a Circuit Court Judge will contort the law beyond common sense and even to absurdity in order to achieve the desired outcome.
  • To show the extreme measures federal judges will employ to protect each other.
  • To show how pervasive dishonesty is among the federal judiciary.
  • To help make the argument that “judicial independence” equals judicial non-accountability.
  • To show how a judge can fit the “facts” and the law around desired outcome and place the document beyond public scrutiny.
  • To demonstrate that the federal judicial process needs the disinfectant of sunlight and public scrutiny.
  • To show that a United States Circuit Judge can take the enactments of the U.S. Congress and the decisions of United States Supreme Court and reduce them mere meaningless pieces of paper.

Preliminary Injunctions or Orders at Issue

On June 13, 2000, Maria Sorolis, Allen, Norton & Blue, attorney for Highlands County Board of County Commissioners and Heartland Library Cooperative, filed a motion entitled “DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION“. See Docket Entry 199. This motion expressly states the following:

  • “undersigned counsel and each of them 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.”
  • “WHEREFORE, Defendants move the Court for an injunction prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting any of the Defendants and/or their supervisory employees,..”

This motion was quickly granted on June 19, 2000. it took the Magistrate just six days or less if mail time is included to grant this motion. On June 19, 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. Incidentally, this order clearly violates Mason’s rights to respond to a motion under Local Rule 7.1.C which states: “Each party opposing a motion shall serve an opposing memorandum of law not later than ten days after service of the motion as computed in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

On July 6, 2000, Maria Sorolis filed a motion entitled “DEFENDANTS’ RENEWED MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION.” See Docket Entry No. 231. Moreover, the motion specifically asks for the following:

  • “Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, Heartland Library Cooperative, Fred Carino, and Mary Myers, by and through their undersigned counsel, and regrettably renew their Motion to the Court for entry of a Preliminary Injunction against the Plaintiff in this matter, “”
  • “WHEREFORE, 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”

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. Incidentally, at least three courts have found similar injunctions to be unconstitutional. see Lewis v. S. S. Baune, 534 F.2d 1115 (5th Cir. 1976)(reversing an order which 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” as “too sweeping a restraint”); Bernard v. Gulf-Oil Co., 619 F.2d 459, 466 (5th Cir. 1980) (en banc), aff’d, 452 U.S. 89, 101 S.Ct. 2193, 68 L.Ed.2d 693 (1981),( explicitly held that requiring the litigant to meet the Court’s “post-communication filing requirements” of constitutionally protected communication was unconstitutional.). Additionally, in Test Masters Educational Services, Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559, 579 (Fed. 5th Cir., 2005) the court held that an order which 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.

Hobson’s Choice

Merriam-Webster has defined a hobson’s choice as:
1 : an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative
2 : the necessity of accepting one of two or more equally objectionable alternatives

On April 26, 2001, Judge Ed Carnes asserted:

“With regard to his requests for relief from the order granting the defendants motions for preliminary injunction, which the court construed as a preliminary discovery motion, Mason has an alternative remedy. He may either comply with the district courts discovery order and challenge it on appeal from the final judgment. or refuse to comply with the order and challenge its validity if cited for contempt. See Rouse Constr. Int’l. Inc. v. Rouse Censtr. Corp., 680 F.2d 743, 745 (11th Cir. 1982).

This is a classical hobson’s choice as Judge Ed Carnes presented Mason with two equally objectionable alternatives:

  • Lose his First Amendment right to petition the government directly during the pendency of the lawsuit; or
  • Fail to comply with a court order and risk contempt and a dismissal of an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Judge Carnes view of the law, according to Judge Carnes own previously and subsequently opinions for which he was panel member, is incorrect and not sustainable under the “rule of law”. The orders in question are reviewable immediately for three reasons:

  • The orders are both de facto and de jure injunctions.
  • The orders have the “practical effect” of being injunctions. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that orders have the “practical effect” of being injunctions are immediately reviewable.
  • The orders, notwithstanding any label, cause irreparable harm according to the United States Supreme Court and Judge Carnes own writings.

Constitutional Right to Petition the Government

“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.” First Amendment, US Constitution.

Right To Interlocutory Appeal

28 U.S.C.§ 1292(a)(1) states:

(a) Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from:
(1) Interlocutory orders of the district courts of the United States, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam, and the District Court of the Virgin Islands, or of the judges thereof, granting, continuing, modifying, refusing or dissolving injunctions, or refusing to dissolve or modify injunctions, except where a direct review may be had in the Supreme Court;

“Certain orders that are not final in the sense of ending the litigation on the merits are immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine of Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949). To come within this doctrine, an order “must conclusively determine the disputed question, resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment.” CORPORATE RISK MANAGEMENT CORPORATION v. SOLOMON, 936 F.2d 572 (6th Cir. 1991). It is difficult to imagine how you can get back First Amendment rights once you have lost them at the end of trial whose date is indeterminate.

With respect 1292(a)(1), the Eleventh Circuit has “construed the statute narrowly to ensure that appeal as of right under Sec. 1292(a)(1) will be available only in circumstances where an appeal will further the statutory purpose of “permit[ting] litigants to effectually challenge interlocutory orders of serious, perhaps irreparable, consequence.” Baltimore Contractors, Inc. v. Bodinger, [348 U.S. 176,] 181, 75 S.Ct. [249,] 252[, 99 L.Ed.2d 233 (1955) ]. Unless a litigant can show that an interlocutory order of the district court might have a “serious, perhaps irreparable, consequence,” and that the order can be “effectually challenged” only by immediate appeal, the general congressional policy against piecemeal review will preclude interlocutory appeal.”CABLE HOLDINGS OF BATTLEFIELD, INC. v. COOKE, 764 F.2d 1466 (11th Cir. 1985).

Absurdity

Judge Carnes’ opinion evinces absurdity and is contrary to law. Inherent in Judge Carnes opinion is the inane notion that a United States Circuit Court of Appeal is bound by a Magistrate’s designation of a “discovery order” and may not review the substance of that order to determine for itself if the “discovery order” is in fact an injunction. If this true, then a Magistrate can issue an injunction and escape appellate review by simply calling an injunction something other than an injunction. “[T]the name which the judge gives the order is not determinative”. Geneva Assur. v. Medical Emergency Services, 964 F.2d 599 (7th Cir. 1992). Judge Carnes was a member of the appellate panel that concluded that “where the order has the effect of a preliminary injunction this court has jurisdiction to review the order and is not bound by the district court’s designation of the order.” See Cuban American Bar Ass’n, Inc. v. Christopher, 43 F.3d 1412 (11th Cir. 1995). More importantly, In Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61 (1974) the Supreme Court expressly rejected this line of contorted reasoning:

“A district court, if it were able to shield its orders from appellate review merely by designating them as temporary restraining orders, rather than as preliminary injunctions, would have virtually unlimited authority over tie parties in all injunctive proceeding.”

Irreparable Harm

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). Judge Marcus himself, in a published decision, has stated: “Regarding irreparable injury, it is well established that “[t]he loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” KH OUTDOOR, LLC v. TRUSSVILLE, CITY OF, 458 F.3d 1261; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 19901; 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 902 (11th Cir. 2006)(citing Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373, 96 S. Ct. 2673, 2690 (1976) (plurality opinion)).

“An order has the practical effect of granting injunctive relief within the meaning of section 1292(a)(1) if it is directed to a party, enforceable by contempt, and designed to accord or protect some or all of the substantive relief sought by a complaint,(internal citations and quotations omitted), and if the appealing party demonstrates serious, perhaps irreparable, consequences”. HBE LEASING CORPORATION v. FRANK,48 F.3d 623 (2nd Cir. 1994). Using Judge Carnes own words, above, the orders would possibly subject Mason to contempt of court charges, “challenge its validity if cited for contempt.”

According to the Supreme Court, an order that has practical effect of denying or granting an injunction iis immediately appealable if a “litigant can show that an interlocutory order of the district court might have a “serious, perhaps irreparable, consequence,” and that the order can be “effectually challenged” only by immediate appeal,…”Carson v. American Brands, Inc., 450 U.S. 79 (1981).

The Ultimate Act of Dishonesty

The ultimate act of dishonesty was that Judge Graham dismissed a lawsuit based upon alleged violations of the injunctions enumerated above and the Eleventh Circuit refused to review these orders for validity. 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. To further illustrate the exreme measures deployed to vindicate Judge Graham personally 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 Case No. 01-13664: The Appeal From Hell” and “Eleventh Circuit Repeatedly Refuses To Review Orders For Validity“). 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.

(D.E. 511, ¶6, PG.3)

On February 13, 2001, Plaintiff appeared at Fred Carino’s office and demanded to view attorney billing records from Defendant Highlands County ’s counsel relevant to its defense of his litigation.

D.E. 511, ¶7, PG.3)

On February 14, 2001, Plaintiff returned to Fred Carino’s office and demanded to view attorney billing records from Defendant Highlands County ’s counsel relevant to its defense of his litigation. This request was made directly to Mr. Canno’s office and not through Defendant Highlands County ’s counsel.

D.E. 511, ¶8, PG.4)

After reviewing the, records, Mr. Mason penned a note to Mr. Carino stating that he wanted unredacted portions of billing records and if he did not get them he will file a lawsuit by February 16, 2001

D.E. 511, ¶9, PG.4).

(D.E. 646, ¶10, PG.3)

Clearly, Plaintiffs “no trespass” and tortious interference claims were an integral part of Plaintiffs present litigation, and involve the same set of facts that Plaintiff continues to rely on in pursuing his present claims. Indeed, Plaintiff’s Fourth Amended Complaint alleged several causes of action based on the issuance of the “no trespass” warnings against Plaintiff. Although Plaintiff’s “no trespass” claims were ultimately dismissed by the Court (D.E.’s #435; 466), Plaintiff has recently indicated his intent to appeal the Court’s dismissal of all claims in his Fourth Amended Complaint. (Exhibit 2). Consequently, the issuance of the “no trespass” warnings against Plaintiff are still part of this present litigation.

(D.E. 646, ¶11, PG.4)

In addition, Plaintiff’s communications regarding Defendants’ counsel’s Eleventh Circuit “track record” clearly have no relevance to his state court claim(s), and pertain only to his federal litigation.

(D.E. 646, ¶12, PG.4)

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

April 25, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

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

Pre-Filing Injunction

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

Teflon Don Knows he Is Flaunting the Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judicial Misconduct

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

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

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

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

Judicial Independence advocates state:

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

Constitution Project, THE NEWSROOM GUIDE TO JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

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

Constitutional Right of Access To The Courts Generally

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

Case Law On Pre-Filing Injunctions

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

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

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

Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata

April 23, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

Introduction and Point of this Posting

The Eleventh Circuit uses truisms ,”an undoubted or self-evident truth;” to mislead the reader and the general public. Unpublished decisions play to ignorance owing to the judges total control of the facts and unfettered ability to report and manipulate those facts. This posting will take an unpublished opinion, Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418, and compare it to published opinions of the Eleventh Circuit. This posting will also analyze a case of Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr., CASE NO. 01-14310-CIV-GRAHAM. See Report and Recommendation,”R&R”, and Order Adopting R&R. This posting will demonstrate how the Eleventh Circuit can take two different cases with the same material facts and reach different outcomes by intentionally omitting material facts in the unpublished opinion. In Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998), U.S. Dist. Judge Marvin H. Shoob, Northern District of Georgia, a part of the Eleventh Circuit, was reversed on appeal for the same set of facts that Judge Graham was affirmed. Judge Shoob was victimized by a published decision while Judge Graham’s actions were saluted with an unpublished opinion. Others Judges in the Eleventh Circuit and particular judges at the Southern District of Florida have suffered reversals in published opinons for the same set of facts that Judge Graham has been affirmed for. Judges Daniel T.K. Hurley ,Ursula Ungaro-Benages, and William P. Dimitrouleas have suffered similar fates. See posts this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“, ““Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal“, “U.S. Dist. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas Reversed While Colleague Judge Donald L. Graham Affirmed by Killing The Appeal“.

This posting documents a type of dishonesty that is breathtaking and antithetical to American values. Additionally, this posting is yet but another example of why Judge Graham is truly the “Teflon Don”. Nothing sticks 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

Judicial Misconduct

A new feature of this blog will be describing conduct that is not considered judicial misconduct in the hopes that the law will change. This posting will demonstrate that federal judges can intentionally misstate or omit material facts with the sole purpose of deceiving and still not be considered guilty of judicial misconduct because it is ““directly related to the merits of a decision or procedural ruling”. Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit, has specifically held that intentionally misstating material facts is not misconduct. Judicial Misconduct Complaint #05-0020.

Prior Lawsuit

The cases discussed here rely upon a previous case heard by Judge Graham, Case No. 99-14027-CIV-Graham/Lynch. This case was filed on February 4, 1999. See Docket. The February 4, 1999 date is critical for res judicata purposes. 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 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.

Unpublished Opinion

This post will present yet another example how an unpublished decision is used to undermine or overrule binding precedent in a published decision. Unpublished opinions are typified by the following:

  • Enough facts to support the opinion.
  • Pertinent and material facts are omitted
  • Relies heavily upon law and scant facts.
  • General statement of facts that support the decision that are not specific to the case.
  • Uses true statements that are misleading.

In order to graphically illustrate the point before reading the rest of this posting’s material facts, the reader is challenged to read the opinions where Judge Graham and the Eleventh Circuit applied res judicata and then read the rest of this posting. See Case No. 01-14310, (DE #79) and Case No. 02-13418

Definition of Res Judicata

“Res judicata is a doctrine of claim preclusion which operates to prevent litigation of matters that were raised or should have been raised in an earlier suit.” McKINNON v. BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF ALA., 935 F.2d 1187 (11th Cir. 1991).

The doctrine of collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, bars relitigation of an issue of fact or law that has been litigated and decided in a prior suit. See McKINNON, above. ” Issue preclusion (Collateral estoppel): Once an issue of fact has been determined in a proceeding between two parties, the parties may not relitigate that issue even in a proceeding on a different cause of action. (Scenario: P sues D on C. P sues D on C1. Element E, which was determined in the first trial, is common to C and C1. At the second trial, P and D cannot attempt to get a different disposition of E.)” Legal Information Institute.

Law On Res Judicata

“Res judicata bars the filing of claims which were raised or could have been raised in an earlier proceeding. ” RAGSDALE v. RUBBERMAID, INC., RUBBERMAID COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS, INC., 193 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 1999). “[R]es judicata does not bar claims that did not exist at the time of the prior litigation.United Transportation Union 946 F.2d 1054 (4th Cir. 1991). “It is well settled that res judicata bars subsequent actions on all grounds for recovery that could have been asserted, whether they were or not.” PALOMAR MOBILEHOME PARK ASSOCIATION v. CITY OF SAN MARCOS, 989 F.2d 362 (9th cir. 1993). Because “res judicata bars the filing of claims which were raised or could have been raised in an earlier proceeding,” relevant in this analysis is when the facts arose. TRUSTMARK INSURANCE COMPANY, v. ESLU, INC., 299 F.3d 1265;2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 15500;15 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 861 (11th Cir. 2002). In Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998), (quoting Manning v. City of Auburn, 953 F.2d 1355, 1358 (11th Cir.1992)) the Eleventh Circuit held:

[W]e do not believe that the res judicata preclusion of claims that “could have been brought” in earlier litigation includes claims which arise after the original pleading is filed in the earlier litigation. Instead, we believe that, for res judicata purposes, claims that “could have been brought” are claims in existence at the time the original complaint is filed or claims actually asserted by supplemental pleadings or otherwise in the earlier action.

True Statements That Are Dishonest

Eleventh Circuit Case No. 02-13418, Dist. Ct. Case No. 02-14049.
The Eleventh Circuit used true statements that are misleading. For example, each of the following assertions in the “opinion” are true:

  • Res judicata bars Mason’s employment discrimination claims against the county. Under res judicata, “a final judgment on the merits bars the parties from re-litigating a cause of action that was or could have been raised in that action.
  • Penalty dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 (b) are considered to be a final judgment on the merits.
  • In several previous lawsuits, including 99-CV-14027, Mason claimed Highlands County engaged in race discrimination. The district court dismissed 99-CV-14027 under Rule 41(b) because of Mason’s continual disregard for the court’s orders and rules.
  • This court affirmed the Rule 41(b) penalty dismissal of 99-CV-14027 in Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, 01-13664 (11th Cir. October 16, 2002).
  • Therefore, because a final judgment on the merits has been previously rendered on his race discrimination claims against Highlands County, res judicata bars Mason’s re-assertion of those claims.

See Opinion, Case No. 02-13418
The above statements are designed to lead the reader and the American public to the same conclusion as the Eleventh Circuit. The statements are dishonest and misleading because the reader has no idea when the claims or cause of actions arose or accrued. The material facts that are omitted is that the former lawsuit, Case No. 99-14027, a wrongful termination case, was filed in February 1999 due to a termination in November 1998. See above. This lawsuit was a failure to hire case after the termination in November 1998. Mason applied for a job as a Budget Technician in November 1999. The EEOC issued the Notice of Right To Sue on March 30, 2000, # 150 A0 1181. See Complaint, (DE #1). Consequently, it is absurd and impossible to have filed this claim on February 1, 1999, when it did not exist. The Eleventh Circuit in two similar cases, Pleming v. Universal-Rundle Corp., 142 F.3d 1354 (11th Cir. 1998) and Manning v. City of Auburn, 953 F.2d 1355, 1360 (11th Cir. 1992), have rejected this nonsense. In Pleming, the court rejected res judicata based upon the following facts:

Pleming’s first lawsuit claimed that Universal-Rundle discriminated against her when the company hired a less qualified white employee for a specific clerical position in July 1993. Pleming did not learn that the company had engaged in alleged further discrimination against her by filling two subsequent administrative openings in October 1994 without considering her, until May 1995, during the conduct of discovery in the first lawsuit. Pleming’s first complaint, therefore, contained no mention of these subsequent hiring decisions and Pleming did not amend her complaint to include them.

In Manning, the Court stated: “Manning’s August 1988 dismissal from Hammock can not bar her claims for discriminatory acts occurring after that date.”

Judge Graham Uses Truisms To Deceive In Case No. 01-14310-CV-Graham

Marcellus Mason applied for a job with Highlands County as a Sign Technician in early 2001. Since Highlands County did not interview Mason or hire him, Mason filed a failure to hire and retaliation claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “EEOC”. On March 28, 2001, EEOC the Notice of Right To Sue, NRTS, issued 9-6-01, #150A13119. This action was filed in state court on or about October 4, 2001 under Case No. GC-00-269, removed October 19, 2001. In order to apply res judicata, Teflon Don and his Magistrate Frank Lynch, Jr. resorted to truisms and general statements that omit material facts. Given the material facts, there is no way res judicata could apply. However, to get around the specific facts, Judge Graham asserts the following statements and truisms to justify res judicata:

  • 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 (DE 766)
  • This Court notes that the factual allegations on which the Plaintiff bases his federal law claims stem from his initial termination of employment. For example, the Plaintiff alleges that Highlands County’s refusal to re-hire him was an act of retaliation and/or an act of discrimination.
  • In support of these allegations, the Plaintiff makes reference to Highlands County’s alleged discriminatory behavior around the time of his prior employment and termination. Indeed, the underlying termination is fundamental to the Plaintiff’s civil rights claims.
  • This is especially so in light of the fact that the Defendants raise his discharge for wrongful conduct and the disciplinary action of permanent removal as a non-discriminatory, legitimate ground for the refusal to re-hire.
  • The issue of whether the termination was lawful has already been litigated in this court, and such claims were dismissed with prejudice with the right to appeal.
  • Therefore, the federal claims raised in the instant case are barred by the doctrine of res judicata for arising from the same nucleus of operative facts and relying on the same factual predicate of the prior litigation.
  • The principle of res judicata also leads to a sensible result in light of the Plaintiff’s legal arguments. After one’s prior termination has been decided in the employer’s favor, it is convoluted logic to argue that the employer’s refusal to re-hire the former worker was the result of unlawful discrimination. To rule otherwise would render meaningless any judicial finding of lawful discharge. Certainly, the protections afforded under Title VII are not meant to enable unappeased litigants to bring recurrent litigation against former employers.

See Report and Recommendation, (DE #79).
If you read this opinion not knowing the omitted and material facts, res judicata is definitely properly applied. This is the danger of allowing judges to write opinions without public scrutiny. Additionally, Judge Graham’s Magistrate, Frank Lynch, Jr. goes beyond truisms and actually lies or does he? A “judicial finding of lawful discharge” was not made in the former case, 99-14027. Judge Graham’s decision necessarily leads to an absurd result in that Mason could apply for a job today and Highlands County could discriminate against Mason and Mason would be without a remedy due to “res judicata”. Thanks to Judge Graham, Highlands County is not subject to the Discrimination laws of the United States. Here again Judge Graham has substituted his wisdom for Congress.

“Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal

April 22, 2008

Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

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

It is hard not to conclude that Judge Donald L. Graham is more valued than his colleagues at the Southern District of Florida when Judge Graham “teflon don” is affirmed on appeal while his colleagues at the S.D. Fla. are reversed. This is the second of two posting on this site where this has happened. Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley met a similar fate. See posting this site, “Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge“. It is difficult to see how such a system advances the notion of equal justice. It would seem that justice is a function not of the “rule of law”, but of whether or not the judge is favored by the appellate courts.

U.S. Dist. Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages was reversed on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit for failing to make Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)’s requisite finding that “lesser sanctions would not suffice” while her colleague U.S. Dist. Judge Donald L. Graham, “Teflon Don”, failed to make the same finding but was affirmed on appeal. In addition to the omission of the requisite finding under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), the Eleventh Circuit had to take the following extreme measures to keep from reversing “Teflon Don”:

  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review for validity the very orders that were used by Judge Graham to justify dismissal of the case under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). See Documents Nos. 201 and 246. The Eleventh Circuit was quite willing to discuss violations of these orders, but not their validity.
  • The Eleventh Circuit explicitly accepted Judge Graham’s thesis that the government, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners had a right not to be communicated with and further that Highlands County Board of Commissioners were prejudiced by lawful communication with it by Mason.
  • The Eleventh Circuit, though admittedly briefed, failed to review the issue as to whether or not Judge Graham should have disqualified or not.
  • The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham.
  • The Eleventh Circuit struck Mason the Appellant/Plaintiff’s brief for arguing an order that it deemed beyond the scope of appeal and then turned around used the very same order to affirm Judge Graham. “Putrid Dishonesty:Beyond the Scope of Appeal”
    For support of these assertions, see “Additional Issues Faced by Judge“, below.

    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

    Publication

    The Eleventh Circuit used a published opinion to reverse Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages, World Thrust Films v. International Family Entertainment, 41 F. 3d 1454 (11th Cir. 1995) , Phyllis A. Kravitch,Judge Hatchett, Senior Cir. Judge Clark, while it used a unpublished or non-published opinion to affirm Judge Graham, Mason v. Heartland Library Cooperative, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, et.al., Case No. 01-13664, (11th Circuit 2002) , Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Judge Stanley Marcus, and Judge Susan H. Black.

    The Law on Rule 41(b) Dismissals

    The Eleventh Circuit rigidly requires district courts to make findings explaining why lesser sanctions would not suffice. Rhini Cellular, Inc. v. Greenberg, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14266, *15 (11th Cir. 2006). The Eleventh Circuit has consistently vacated and reversed Rule 41(b) dismissals where the district court failed to explicitly make the finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice. See e.g., Turner v. United States, 2006 Fed. Appx. 952 (11th Cir. 2006); Rex v. Monaco Coach, 155 Fed Appx. 485 (11th Cir. 2005); Betty K Agencies, LTD v. M/V Monada, 432 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2006); Ford v. Fogarty Van Lines, 780 F. 2d 1582, 1583 (11th Cir.1986);Tweed v. Florida, 151 Fed. Appx. 856, 857 (11th Cir. 2005).

    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.

    Facts Supporting Rule 41(b) Dismissal

    Judge Graham

    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. 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.

    In this case, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

    “Although the district court did not make an explicit finding that a sanction less than dismissal with prejudice would have sufficed, it is unclear what lesser sanction would have been more appropriate in this situation.”

    There is no mention as to how Highlands County was “greatly prejudiced”, a necessary finding, by lawful out of court communications with it by the Plaintiff Mason. Such a notion would be absurd on its face. In order to make the “implicit finding”, the Eleventh Circuit, used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal and that Mason did not have a chance to oppose. Moreover these documents should not have been a part of the record as both were produced subsequent to the closing of the case on June 20 2001. The Case was closed on June 20, 2001 and the notice of appeal filed on June 25, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. Docket No. 878, a prefiling injunction, was issued sua sponte, on September 20, 2001. Pgs. 13-14 of the Opinion states:

    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.

    Additionally, Docket Entry No. 900, dtd March 22, 2002, is directly referenced “R19-900-7” and used for justification at pg. 12. “R19-900-7” stands for record volume 19, Document no. 900.
    The Eleventh Circuit admitted that the following were at issue on the appeal:

    Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters,..the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges, and the merits of his complaint.

    See Opinion, pg. 10.

    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.

    Judge Ungaro-Benages

    The case was dismissed because of the following:

    • Plaintiffs violated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 16.1 by failing to timely file a scheduling report.
    • Plaintiffs failed to effect service of process, and file proof thereof

    In this case, the court declined to evaluate the first prong as to whether or not engaged World Thrust in a clear pattern of delay or willful contempt. The court concluded it need not analyze that prong because the district court, Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages failed to make a finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice. The Court stated:

    We need not decide, however, whether the conduct of World Thrust’s lawyers was contumacious because the district court failed to make the necessary finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice in this instance, as required in the second prong of the inquiry.

    Additional Issues Faced by Judge

    Judge Graham faced additional issues on appeal which, anyone of which would have required reversal. However, the Eleventh Circuit simply chose to ignore the following issues on appeal:

    • Judge Graham should have disqualified or recused.
    • Judge Graham issued injunctions that were invalid. Violations of these same orders formed the basis of the Fed.R.Civ.R. 41(b) dismissal. These orders prohibited direct communication by the Plaintiff , Mason with the Highlands County Government. For discussion of these orders, see posting “A Federal Magistrate May Issue An Injunction So Long As He Does Not Call it An Injunction
    • Judge Graham failed to rule on a motion for a preliminary that was pending from November 24, 1999 until the case was closed on June 20, 2001. The opinion does not discuss this issue.
    • Judge Graham mismanaged the case by allowing scores of filings to go undecided.
    • Judge Graham intentionally misrepresented the law. The opinion does not discuss this issue.
    • The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. The Case was closed on June 20, 2001 and the notice of appeal filed on June 25, 2001. The Eleventh Circuit used two documents that were beyond the scope of appeal to affirm Judge Graham. Docket No. 878, a prefiling injunction, was issued sua sponte, on September 20, 2001. Pgs. 13-14 of the Opinion states:

      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.

      Additionally, Docket Entry No. 900, dtd March 22, 2002, is directly referenced “R19-900-7” and used for justification at pg. 12. “R19-900-7” stands for record volume 19, document no. 900.
      The Eleventh Circuit admitted that the following were at issue on the appeal:

      Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters,..the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges, and the merits of his complaint.

      See Opinion, pg. 10.

      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.

Eleventh Circuit Uses Same Set of Facts To Reverse One Florida Judge While Affirming Another Florida Judge

April 18, 2008

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham

Foreword

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

Point of This Post

U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham [President George H.W. Bush 1992 nominee] was affirmed or upheld on appeal for the exact same set of facts that his colleague, Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley, at S.D. Fla.[President Bill Clinton 1993 nominee]  was reversed on appeal. In their individual cases, both Judge Graham and Judge Hurley denied in forma pauperis, “IFP”, motions or applications without stating a reason for the denials. Incidentally, Judge Graham has a history of arbitrary denials having done it 18 times to Mason without stating a reason. See Graham’s Arbitrary IFP Denials. The Eleventh Circuit used a published opinion to reverse Judge Hurley while it chose an unpublished opinion to affirm Judge Graham. Wonder How Judge Hurley feels? And yes he knows because the author made a telephone call to Judge Hurley’s chambers and sent both faxes, emails, and US mail to Judge Hurley’s chambers. Other colleagues have met a similar fate. See “Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal, Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata . This author owes a Federal Public Defender an apology who advised him in a trumped up criminal contempt trial: “Those people don’t give a damn about the law-Judge Graham is their golden boy. Get your godamn toothbrush cause they are going to put your ass in jail.” See Framed Web Page. This was the best legal advice this author has ever had.

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

Definition of In Forma Pauperis

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/in+forma+pauperis

IN FORMA PAUPERIS. In the character or form of a pauper. In England, in some cases, when a poor person cannot afford to pay the costs of a suit as it proceeds, he is exempted from such payment, having obtained leave to sue in forma pauperis.

Consequences of the Eleventh Circuit’s Decision

  • Judge Graham won’t have a reversal in his record in the event of a Senate confirmation hearing while his colleagues will.
  • Judge Graham does not cite any facts or law to support his decision.
  • Judge Graham’s decision defies and overrules the United States Supreme Court and Congress with impunity.
  • Unpublished decisions are used to undermine the rule of law and to achieve the desired objective.

IFP

Marcellus Mason and Evelyn Martinez filled out the same form, or Affidavit, swearing to the following:

“in the above-entitled proceeding; that in support of my request to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs under 28 §USC. 1915 I declare that I am unable to pay the costs of these proceedings and that I am entitled to the relief sought in the complaint/petition/motion.”

See APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES AND AFFIDAVIT, form AO 240 (Rev. 9/96) (Reverse), Docket No. 2, Mason and Docket Entry No. 1, Case No. 02-80933, Martinez .

U.S. Supreme Court On In Forma Pauperis

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).

Same Facts

Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley

On October 2, 2002, Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley, S.D. Fla., denied an in forma pauperis motion for the following reason:

THIS CAUSE is before the court upon plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis. [DE# 1] Having considered the plaintiff’s motion and accompanying affidavit , it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:
1. The motion to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED

See Case No. 02-80933, Docket Entry No. 3. On appeal the case was reported at: Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir., 2004).

Judge Donald L. Graham

On November 2, 2000, Judge Donald L. Graham, S.D. Fla., denied an in forma pauperis motion for the following reason:

THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed in forma Pauper’s (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.

See Docket Entry No. 9.

Eleventh Circuit Appeals Achieves Two Very Different Outcomes

Judge Hurley Reversed, Eleventh Cir. Case No. No. 02-16019.

Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. [President George H.W. Bush 1990 nominee], Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee] , U.S. Dist. Judge Jerome Farris [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee]

In reversing Judge Hurley, the Eleventh Circuit held:

“The district court denied Martinez’s motion for leave to proceed IFP without explanation…Further, because the district court’s order contained no explanation as to why Martinez’s motion was denied, it is unclear whether the denial was based on her failure to satisfy the poverty requirement or because her complaint was frivolous. Therefore, we vacate the district court’s order and remand with instructions.” Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2004). See Opinion at Findlaw, Resource.Org, .

Judge Graham Affirmed or Upheld

Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat [Presidents Nixon and Ford 1970 and 1975 appointee US Dist Judge and US Circuit Judge], Judge Susan H. Black [President Jimmy Carter 1979 nominee Dist Judge, President George H. W. Bush 1992  appointee], Judge Ed Carnes [President George H. W. Bush 1992 nominee, avid death penalty proponent, staunch conservative]

In affirming Judge Graham [Bush 1992  appointee], the Eleventh Circuit held:

“Marcellus Mason appeals from the district court’s order denying his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. In his initial brief, Mason contends that because the trial court provided no explanation in denying his motion, the district court acted arbitrarily and its decision must be reversed. In his reply brief; Mason argues for the first time that he did not follow the district court’s order to pay the filing fee because he could not afford to pay the filing fee…Further, this Court does not address issues raised for the first time in a reply brief.Upon review of the pleadings, and upon consideration of the briefs of the parties, we find no reversible error.AFFIRMED.” See Eleventh Circuit’s Unpublished Opinion, Case No. 00-16512.

Mason begged the Eleventh Circuit to reconsider.

On October 31, Judge Ed Carnes denied a motion for hearing stating only:

“The petition(s) for rehearing filed by Appellant is DENIED.”

See Order Denying Rehearing.

The Appellant/Plaintff’s Briefs: Initial Brief, Reply Brief.
Appellee/Defendants Answer Brief, on brief Maria N. Sorolis, formerly of Allen,Norton & Blue, Tampa, Fla.

Other Disparities

The Eleventh Circuit has similarly affirmed Judge Graham on appeal while excoriating and reversing other Judges in the Southern District and at the Eleventh Circuit. See “Teflon Don” Avoids Reversal While Colleague Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages Suffers Reversal, Eleventh Circuit Uses Unpublished Opinion and Omission(Deception) To Invoke Res Judicata , or Same Facts, Tale of Two Appeals.

Does A Mere Clause In a Sentence Represent Meaningful Appeal?

April 7, 2008


Justice Turned On Its Head

Justice Turned On Its Head

Judge Donald L. GrahamJudge Donald L. Graham


Point of this Post

The Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal cited a mere clause in a sentence in an unpublished opinion and apparently considered this “meaningful appellate review” of Judge Graham’s failure to disqualify. This appeal was captioned under Eleventh Circuit Case No. 01-13364 and Dist. Ct. Case No. 99-14027-CV-Graham/Lynch. This appeal was ultimately concluded with an unpublished opinion that to be kind and civil amounted to nothing more than dishonesty and a reckless disregard for the “rule of law”. See Undermining An Appeal Right to see other ways this appeal was undermined.

It couldn’t be more clear that the Judges at the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal, are not going to let the “rule of law” prohibit them from achieving their desired outcome-a total vindication of Judge Graham’s miscreant behavior. This behavior is fully documented at: http://mmason.freeshell.org/CoreAllegations.htm

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

MOTION FOR REHEARING

The Eleventh Circuit was told of their “mistake” or omission of failing to decide whether Judge Graham should or disqualified or recused himself. Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., writing for the panel, rejected Mason’s plea to consider whether Judge Graham should have disqualified or recused himself. On Jan 31, 2003, Judge Birch said: “The petition(s) for rehearing filed by appellant, Marcellus M. Mason, Jr., is DENIED.” See Rehearing Denial Order.

Disqualification on Appeal

See Case Background Information.
On March 11, 2002, Marcellus Mason filed a brief with the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeal that stated, among other things, Judge Graham should have disqualified or recused himself. See Appellant’s Brief. This brief excoriates Judge Graham and accuses him of the following:

  • Usurping authority by allowing a Magistrate to render an injunction.
  • Usurping authority by prohibiting out of court direct communication with the government
  • Usurping authority by administering the Florida Public Records Act.
  • Intentionally lying and misrepresenting the law.
  • Refusing to rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction that had been pending for more than 19 months.
  • Mismanagement of the Case by Allowing scores of motions and filings to languish without being decided.

These allegations, and others, are fully documented at http://mmason.freeshell.org/CoreAllegations.htm.

    Meaningless Appeal

    On October 16, 2002, Judges Stanley F. Birch, Jr., Susan H. Black, and Stanley Marcus asserted:

    “Mason also raises issues that relate to non-sanction matters, e.g., .. the denial of his motions to disqualify the district court and magistrate judges…”

    See Opinion, page 10. This is the sum total of appellate review as to whether Judge Donald L. Graham should have been disqualified due to misconduct. The “opinion” is 14 pages long. There is absolutely no discussion as to whether the allegations of misconduct are true or not.

Rehearing Motion

Subsequent to the Eleventh Circuit’s failure to decide whether or not Judge Graham should have disqualified or recuse in their “opinion”, Mason filed motion informing the Court of this “oversight” or failure.

This Court’s opinion does not address whether or not the district court abused his discretion by not disqualifying. Plaintiff raised this issue in his Initial Brief at pages 30-33. Mason contends that the district court is in violation of Canon 1, Canon 3, Code Of Conduct For United States Judges Code Of Conduct For United States Judges. Plaintiff’s motion to disqualify was submitted on February 7, 2001, (Doc. 460), which was submitted prior to Defendants’ motions for dismissal in the form of sanctions, the first of which was not submitted until March 2, 2001, (Doc. 511). The district judge should have never taken action on the Defendant’s motion for dismissal that was submitted on March 2, 2001 because he was required to disqualify on Mason’s motion submitted on February 7, 2001.

Pg. 13, Motion For Rehearing.

On Jan 31, 2003, Judge Birch said: “The petition(s) for rehearing filed by appellant, Marcellus M. Mason, Jr., is DENIED.” See Rehearing Denial Order.


Compare Judge Graham To Judge Duross Fitzpatrick

In Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353 (C.A.11 (Ga.), 1997), Judge Duross Fitzpatrick, Middle District of Georgia, the district court was excoriated for mismanagement of a case. This case involved the district court’s failure to resolve discovery disputes and failure to decide motions. “Failure to consider and rule on significant pretrial motions before issuing dispositive orders can be an abuse of discretion.” Chudasama, supra.