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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's 132 month sentence for drug trafficking under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. The court held that the Fifth Amendment did not entitle defendant to relief from his mandatory minimum sentence; in light of international concerns, Congress was entitled to mete out hefty sentences to maritime drug runners; the inherent difficulties of policing drug trafficking on the vast expanses of international waters suggested that Congress could have rationally concluded that harsh penalties were needed to deter would-be offenders; circuit precedents foreclosed defendant's arguments about the constitutionality of the Act and its application to him; and defendant's guilty plea foreclosed his constitutional challenges to his detention. View "United States v. Lemus Castillo" on Justia Law

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Defendants Joyner and Sturgis appealed their convictions and sentences for multiple counts of Hobbs Act robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not reversibly err by declining to repeat a jury instruction when it provided the indictment to the jury; the district court's denial of motions to suppress cell site data did not warrant reversal; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Joyner's motions for new counsel; the district court did not err in rejecting Joyner's Bruton argument; but, as conceded by the government, Joyner should be resentenced under a correct offense level and guidelines range. Accordingly, the court remanded Joyner's case for resentencing and affirmed in all other respects. View "United States v. Joyner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After debtor filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, the trustee filed an adversary proceeding against Blue Bell to recover from Blue Bell more than $500,000 in a series of payments that Blue Bell had received from debtor during the 90-day period preceding debtor's bankruptcy filing. Blue Bell acknowledged that the payments it received from debtor constituted preferences under 11 U.S.C. 547(b), but that it had a new-value defense. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the bankruptcy court's judgment and held that the language in Charisma Investment Company, N.V. v. Airport Systems, Inc. (In re Jet Florida System, Inc.), 841 F.2d 1082 (11th Cir. 1988), relied on by the bankruptcy court was dictum and, as such, it did not bind the court. The court construed section 547(c)(4) anew, and held that it did not require new value to remain unpaid. Therefore, the court remanded for a new calculation of Blue Bell's preference liability. View "Kaye v. Blue Bell Creameries, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eleventh Circuit held that its order denying a certificate of appealability (COA) to petitioner in this case should not be reconsidered. The court held that petitioner was not entitled to a COA for two distinct reasons: first, his claim arose from the rule announced in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 580 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 855 (2017), and that rule did not apply retroactively; and second, he has failed to show cause to overcome his procedural default. View "Tharpe v. Warden" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's award of sanctions against plaintiff and his attorneys in an action against Pro Transport and its owners, seeking to recover unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court held that Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., 871 F.3d 1174 (11th Cir. 2017) (en banc), made clear that plaintiff and his attorneys did not act in bad faith or took legal action that had no reasonable chance of success in litigating the FLSA claim. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion by imposing sanctions. View "Antonio Silva v. Pro Transport, Inc." on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court held that this court must "look through" an unexplained decision by a state supreme court to the last reasoned decision and presume that the state supreme court adopted the reasoning in the decision by the lower state court. The court held that the superior court concluded that counsel provided petitioner effective assistance where, even if additional potential mitigating evidence had been admitted in petitioner's sentencing, there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the sentencing trial could be different. Finally, the court denied petitioner's motion to remand or, alternatively, to expand the certificate of appealability and to permit supplemental briefing. View "Wilson v. Warden" on Justia Law

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School administrators filed suit alleging that the school board's investigation and discipline of their efforts to convert their school into a charter school violated their freedom of speech and association in violation of the First Amendment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school board under D'Angelo v. School Board of Polk County, 497 F.3d 1203 (11th Cir. 2007). The panel held that the Supreme Court's most recent opinion in Lane v. Franks, 134 S. Ct. 2369 (2014), did not undermine, let alone abrogate D'Angelo's precedential effect. In this case, the administrators spoke not as private citizens but as the principal and assistant principal of a public school, pursuant to their official duties, when they undertook to convert their public school into a charter school. Therefore, their speech was not protected by the First Amendment. View "Fernandez v. The School Board of Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of petitioner in an action under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act to recover fees and costs. The court held that respondent failed to establish under the Act that an award of necessary expenses could be clearly inappropriate. In this case, the record developed on the merits of the wrongful removal petition was replete with evidence contradicting respondent's good faith argument. Therefore, the court affirmed the award of attorney fees, costs and expenses in the total amount of $89,490.26. View "Rath v. Marcoski" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the City of Brookhaven, holding that its ordinance regulating adult businesses was not unconstitutional. The city passed the ordinance for the stated purpose of preventing the negative secondary effects of such businesses. As a preliminary matter, the court held that res judicata did not preclude Stardust from litigating its claims in this appeal. On the merits, the court held that the ordinance did not impermissibly restrict Stardust's constitutionally protected speech; the ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague in violation of due process; the City's enforcement of the ordinance did not violate Stardust's equal protection rights; and the ordinance did not impermissibly infringe on individuals' substantive due process right to intimate sexual activity. View "Stardust, 3007 LLC v. City of Brookhaven" on Justia Law

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Acosta challenged the district court's entry of a default judgment against them after they failed to pay their required arbitration fees in a dispute with a former employee who sought unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that it found no basis in the Federal Arbitration Act, caselaw, or anywhere else to support a court's decision to enter a default judgment solely because a party defaulted in the underlying arbitration. Because the court concluded that the district court erred in entering a default judgment against Acosta based solely on Acosta's default in the underlying arbitration, the court did not reach the remaining arguments. View "Hernandez Hernandez v. Acosta Tractors Inc." on Justia Law