Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiring to distribute and possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. The court held that probable cause supported defendant's arrest because the informant's information was veritable, reliable, and corroborated. The court also held that the district court did not err by refusing to apply a two-level sentence reduction for truthful disclosure under USSG 2D1.1(b)(17), because defendant failed to satisfy his burden of proving his truthful disclosure. View "United States v. Mancilla-Ibarra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Executive Clemency Board appealed the district court's orders denying in part its motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoining Florida's former system for re-enfranchising convicted felons. Plaintiff and other convicted felons alleged that the former system facially violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court granted plaintiff's motion on three of four counts, and issued permanent injunctions prohibiting the Board from enforcing the then-current vote-restoration system, ending all vote-restoration processes. In 2016, Florida voters amended their state constitution as it concerns the re-enfranchisement of convicted felons. In 2019, Florida's legislature revised its statutory scheme for re-enfranchisement. Plaintiff claimed that he and the other convicted felons are eligible to seek restoration of their voting rights. Therefore, the Eleventh Circuit held that this case is moot and vacated in part the district court's order on cross-motions for summary judgment dated February 1, 2018; vacated the district court's order directing entry of judgment dated March 27, 2018; and remanded with instructions to dismiss. View "Hand v. Desantis" on Justia Law

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On petition for rehearing, the Eleventh Circuit vacated and reconsidered its original opinion, substituting the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's grant of GDC's motion to quash plaintiffs' subpoena directing GDC to testify at a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition and to produce documents concerning Georgia's lethal injection protocol. Plaintiffs argued that the information was necessary to support their 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims pending in the Southern District of Mississippi challenging the legality of Mississippi's lethal injection protocol. The court held that the district court applied the correct standard of review, the clearly erroneous or contrary-to-law standard, to the magistrate judge's ruling on the motion to quash. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by affirming the magistrate judge's ruling to grant GDC's motion to quash where the relevance of the information sought in the GDC subpoena to the pending section 1983 litigation was highly questionable; the subpoena subjected GDC to an undue burden which mandated the quashing of the subpoena under Rule 45(d)(3)(A)(iv); and compliance with plaintiffs' subpoena would impose an undue burden on the State of Georgia. View "Jordan v. Georgia Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, motion for a new trial or remittitur. In this Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law to the extent it challenged the reputational harm claim and the willfulness claim. However, the court vacated the jury's punitive damages award and remanded the case to the district court to enter a judgment awarding plaintiff $1 million in punitive damages. The court held that, although punitive damages were properly awarded, a $3.3 million dollar award was unconstitutionally excessive. View "Williams v. First Advantage Background Services Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for procuring naturalization unlawfully, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1425(a), and misuse of evidence of an unlawfully issued certificate of naturalization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1423. The court held that the annotated Form N-400 was (1) admissible non-hearsay as an adopted admission of a party-opponent under Federal Rule of Evidence 801, and, (2) alternatively, was properly admitted under the public record hearsay exception in Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Furthermore, the officer's red marks in the annotated Form N-400 Application was not testimonial and did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting defendant's post-Miranda statement, and the evidence was sufficient to sustain defendant's conviction as to Count 1. View "United States v. Santos" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a juror after the juror stated that the Holy Spirit had "told" him to return a certain verdict irrespective of what the evidence showed. The court found no abuse of discretion in the district court's decision to question Juror 13. The court held that the district court did not clearly err when it found that Juror 13 was not capable of returning a verdict based on the evidence adduced at trial, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Juror 13 after finding that he was not capable of reaching a verdict based on the evidence. The court also held that Rule 606(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence did not apply to the court's inquiry into Juror 13's statement. The court rejected defendant's claim that the district court violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment, and the Sixth Amendment by excusing Juror 13. Finally, the court held that the district court did not plainly err in issuing the forfeiture order. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that, during a purported disciplinary encounter with Defendant Lockhart, he pulled down plaintiff's pants and forcefully penetrated plaintiff's anus with his finger. The district court relied on Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107 (11th Cir. 2006), to dismiss plaintiff's claims. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court improperly resolved material issues of fact—two relating to the sexual-assault claim and two to the takedown and pepper-spray claims. The court held that, although Boxer X's holding that "severe or repetitive sexual abuse of a prisoner by a prison official can violate the Eighth Amendment," remains good law, Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37 (2010), clarified that courts cannot find excessive force claims not "actionable" because the prisoner did not suffer "more than de minimis injury." Therefore, Wilkins partly abrogated Boxer X. In this case, the court held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence on summary judgment to establish both parts of a post-Wilkins Eighth Amendment claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the portion of the district court's judgment granting summary judgment to Lockhart; affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Sconiers v. FNU Lockhart" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit published this opinion in place of its previous opinion, which was vacated by order of the court. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas relief, holding that a district court may, on its own initiative and without hearing from the State, decide that the statute of limitations bars the petition. In this case, petitioner was provided ample notice and opportunity to explain why his petition was timely in his form petition and again when he was given the opportunity to respond to the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation that his petition be summarily dismissed as untimely. Furthermore, the Secretary was notified of the court's action, had an opportunity to respond, and remained silent. No one contests that the petition was untimely and the State has never indicated a desire to waive the limitations bar. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the petition. View "Paez v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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This case involved the enforcement of a judgment CFTC obtained against defendant which, among other things, ordered defendant to pay $1,543,892 within 10 days in restitution to the investors who fell victim to his commodity-fraud scheme. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's contempt adjudication and its modification of the restitution provisions of its judgment, holding that those provisions constitute a money judgment enforceable under the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, but not by the district court's civil contempt power. Therefore, the court need not consider defendant's arguments that the district court erred in considering exempt assets or defendant's wife's income in its determination of defendant's ability to pay. View "U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner v. Escobio" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Eleventh Circuit reversed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon. The court held that defendant's prior Georgia conviction for making terroristic threats under O.C.G.A. 16-11-37(a) (2010), is not a predicate violent felony under the elements clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act. The court held that because section 16-11-37(a) is indivisible and overbroad under Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243, 2249 (2016), a violation of that statute categorically does not constitute a predicate offense under the elements clause. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Oliver" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law