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

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Deputy sheriffs arrested Plaintiff based on a warrant for another man of the same name, detained him, and released him when his identity was verified three days later. Plaintiff sued the deputies for violating his alleged due process right to be free from over-detention under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim.   At issue was whether an individual detained for three days based on mistaken identity for a valid arrest warrant has stated a claim for relief under the Fourteenth Amendment for his over-detention. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court reasoned that under Baker v. McCollan, no violation of due process occurs if a detainee’s arrest warrant is valid and his detention lasts an amount of time no more than three days. And both conditions are met here. The court explained that Plaintiff was arrested on a valid warrant and held for only three days. Thus, under Baker, Plaintiff’s complaint did not state a claim for a violation of his due process rights. View "David Sosa v. Martin County, Florida, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, and one count of carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Before his sentencing, a probation officer prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”). The PSR reported that Defendant had two previous convictions for controlled substance offenses. The PSR considered Defendant’s Section 846 conspiracy conviction to be his third controlled substance offense. Together, these three offenses qualified Defendant for the career offender enhancement under Section 4B1.1(a) of the Sentencing Guidelines. On appeal, Defendant renewed his argument that his Section 846 conspiracy conviction did not count as a controlled substance offense. Defendant petitioned for, and the Eleventh Circuit granted, rehearing en banc to revisit its precedent.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence and remanded to the district court for resentencing. The court concluded that the text of Section 4B1.2(b) unambiguously excludes inchoate crimes. Under Kisor, that concluded the court’s analysis. Accordingly, the court wrote that it has no need to consider, much less defer to, the commentary in Application Note 1. Thus, the court held that Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine in violation of Section 846 is not a controlled substance offense because the plain text of Section 4B1.2(b) unambiguously excludes inchoate crimes. Accordingly, Defendant must be resentenced without application of the career offender enhancement. View "USA v. Brandon Romel Dupree" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Defendant appealed his sentence of 36 months imprisonment for wire fraud, which is an upward variance from the guidelines range of 8 to 14 months. The district court imposed that sentence after Defendant pleaded guilty to providing false information to obtain an $85,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. He challenged the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court appropriately considered the relevant Sections 3553(a) factors, provided a sufficiently compelling justification for varying from the guidelines range, and imposed a sentence that is both procedurally and substantively reasonable. The court explained that the district court was not required to state on the record that it explicitly considered each Section 3553(a) factor or to discuss each factor. It is enough that the record reflects the court’s consideration of the sentencing factors and the parties’ arguments. Further, the court held that the district court did not rely on any clearly erroneous facts in making its decision and adequately explained why it didn’t consider this to be a mine-run case, particularly because Defendant used his education and ability to exploit a government relief program. Moreover, the court wrote that the record shows that the district court considered the importance of deterrence along with other Section 3553(a) factors in varying upward. Those factors included the applicable guidelines range, Defendant’s history and characteristics, the seriousness of his crime, the nature and circumstances of it, and the need to promote respect for the law and to provide just punishment. View "USA v. Vinath Oudomsine" on Justia Law

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The jury convicted Petitioner of second-degree murder and robbery. The verdict form included interrogatories about the firearm enhancement. After he was resentenced, Petitioner filed a third motion that asserted two grounds for relief. Petitioner filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus that asserted the same two claims for relief that he alleged in his third Florida Rule 3.850 motion. The district court denied the petition and denied Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. It determined that both of Petitioner’s claims were procedurally barred.   On appeal from the denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus the Eleventh Circuit was required to decide whether trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by requesting that the jury be instructed on lesser included offenses. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition finding that Petitioner’s trial counsel did not render ineffective counsel. Further, the court wrote that because Petitioner’s claim that insufficient evidence supported his conviction was denied by the state courts based on an adequate and independent state procedural ground, he is also not entitled to relief on that claim. View "Demetrius Carey v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a collector of child pornography, commented on several “mom blog” posts asking mothers to display sexually explicit images of their young daughters. At issue is whether requests constitute criminal attempts to produce child pornography under 18 U.S.C. Section 2251(a) and (e). Defendant contends that his requests were so unlikely to succeed that they can’t support attempt liability. Second, he says that because he couldn’t have known—or even thought—that his plot would succeed, it can’t be shown that he knew or had reason to know that such visual depiction would be transported or transmitted using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce,” as the production statute requires. Finally, he argued that his verbal requests were too insignificant to constitute the “substantial step” necessary to prove attempt.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. First, the sheer unlikelihood that Defendant’s requests to the mom-bloggers would result in the production of child pornography does not negate his desire—and thus his intent—to produce child pornography, and there is, in any event, plenty of evidence, even beyond the messages themselves, that he intended to do so. Second, contrary to Defendant’s suggestion, Section 2251(a)’s interstate-nexus element does not require that a defendant know ex-ante that his plot will succeed—only (as relevant here) that if it succeeds, the forbidden images will travel in interstate commerce. Finally, Defendant’s substantial-step argument, which he failed to clearly present to the district court, fails under plain-error review. View "USA v. Colum Patrick Moran, Jr." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The case arises out of the insolvency of the Crescent Bank and Trust Company (“Crescent”) and the conduct of its customer lawyer, a manager of his law firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider, LLC (“Hardwick law firm”). In 2009, Crescent, a Georgia bank, made the lawyer a loan for $631,276.71. The lawyer, as his law firm’s manager, signed a security agreement that pledged, as collateral, his law firm’s certificate of time deposit (“CD”) for $631,276.71. When Crescent failed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), as receiver, took over and sold the lawyer’s loan and CD collateral to Renasant Bank. The lawyer then made loan payments to Renasant, and Renasant held the CD collateral. Landcastle sued Renasant (as successor to the FDIC and Crescent), claiming Renasant was liable for $631,276.71, the CD amount. Landcastle’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Hardwick law firm’s security agreement.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. The court explained that Landcastle’s lack-of-authority claims are barred under D’Oench because they rely on evidence that was outside Crescent’s records when the FDIC took over and sold the lawyer’s loan and CD collateral to Renasant. The court concluded that the lawyer’s acting outside the scope of his authority did not render the security agreement void but, at most, only voidable. A voidable interest is sufficient to pass the CD security agreement to the FDIC and to trigger the D’Oench shield View "Landcastle Acquisition Corp. v. Renasant Bank" on Justia Law

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FIC was founded and started using FOREMOST branded marks to market and sell its insurance products. After FIC operated independently for several decades, Farmers Insurance Group acquired FIC in 2000. Now a subsidiary of Farmers, FIC continues to sell insurance in the United States and Florida under its FOREMOST-branded marks. At issue is whether parties’ FOREMOST trademarks at issue could confuse consumers into thinking that a relationship exists between the parties. The district court found at summary judgment that there was no likelihood of confusion (and thus no trademark infringement) between the FOREMOST marks of Foremost Insurance Company (“FIC”), a multi-billion dollar insurance company, and Foremost Title and Escrow (“FT&E”), a shell company set up to sell title insurance for a law firm.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment on FIC’s trademark infringement claim. The court explained that while the district court implicitly decided this case under the Nunez framework, it never actually decided whether all the material facts had been “incontrovertibly proved.” A district court may not ignore the traditional summary judgment standard merely by invoking the specter of Nunez. The court wrote, in this case, the parties should have eschewed moving for summary judgment, informed the court that discovery was complete and that the case was ready for trial, and then held a bench trial. Thus because the court held a reasonable factfinder could determine that a likelihood of confusion exists, the court reversed  grant of summary judgment as to Count I of FIC’s complaint and remanded the case for trial on the merits. View "FCOA LLC v. Foremost Title & Escrow Services LLC" on Justia Law

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Residents of the Royal Palm Village Mobile Home Park in Haines City, Florida, sued the Park’s owners in federal court. The residents alleged that the owners had engaged in fraud by, among other things, illegally passing on costs to the residents, embellishing lot descriptions to justify increased rents, and falsely promising to upgrade roads and other common areas. The residents filed an amended complaint alleging violations of a slightly different collection of state and federal statutes: four counts under both the federal and Florida RICO statutes—as well as one under the ADA. The owners moved to dismiss. The district court dismissed the amended complaint for essentially the same reasons that it had dismissed the initial complaint. The owners now appeal the district court’s rejection of their fee requests pertaining to the first and second amended complaints. Those complaints, the owners argue, were also “to enforce” the FMHA because the residents predicated the RICO claims in those complaints on violations of the FMHA.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The court explained that here the alleged FMHA violations set out in the residents’ amended complaints were not independent legal claims, but rather components of other claims (e.g., the RICO claims). The amended complaints did not seek any relief under the FMHA. Nor did they request compliance with the FMHA. Those complaints, therefore, were not “proceeding[s] to enforce provisions” of the FMHA. The district court correctly denied fees to the owners as to those complaints under Section 723.068. View "Royal Palm Village Residents, Inc., et al v. Monica Slider, et al" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with armed robbery under Georgia law. A grand jury later indicted Defendant for one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(1), to which Defendant pled guilty. He ultimately pled guilty to the lesser included offense of robbery by intimidation. Defendant objected to the PSR’s classification of his prior conviction. He argued that robbery by sudden snatching, found within Georgia’s robbery statute, is not a crime of violence and Georgia’s robbery statute is indivisible under Mathis.Consequently, this would preclude robbery by intimidation from qualifying as a crime of violence. At the sentencing hearing, the district court held the statute is indivisible. At issue is whether Georgia’s robbery statute, O.C.G.A. Section 16-8-40, is divisible under Mathis v. United States, 579 U.S. 500 (2016), and if so, whether robbery by intimidation under Georgia law is a crime of violence within the meaning of Section 4B1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. The court held that Georgia’s robbery statute is divisible and robbery by intimidation under Georgia law is a crime of violence under the Guidelines. Robbery by intimidation under Georgia law falls squarely within the generic definition of robbery. The offense requires the property be taken “from the person or the immediate presence of another.” O.C.G.A. Section 16-8-40(a) It thus qualifies as a crime of violence under the enumerated clause of the Guidelines. View "USA v. Chavar Alec Harrison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Appellee’s confirmed bankruptcy plan purported to modify the rights of Appellant Creditor Mortgage Corporation of the South’s (“MCS”) mortgage on Appellee’s residence. In fact, her plan purported to eradicate all remaining outstanding payments on her mortgage, beyond MCS’s claims for past-due arrearages. The bankruptcy court had confirmed Appellee’s Plan without objection and that 11 U.S.C. Section 1327 (the “finality” provision) renders confirmed plans final, the bankruptcy court granted Appellee’s motion, and the district court affirmed. On appeal, at issue was which provision wins— antimodification or finality—when the two clash in the scenario this case presents.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling holding that release of MCS’s lien before its loan had been repaid in full violates Section 1322(b)(2)’s antimodification clause. The court held that under Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit precedent, it read the antimodification provision as an ironclad “do not touch” instruction for the rights of holders of homestead mortgages. So a bankruptcy plan cannot modify the rights of a mortgage lender whose claim is secured by the debtor’s principal residence by providing for release of the homestead-mortgagee’s lien before the mortgagee has recovered the full amount it is owed. View "Mortgage Corporation of the South v. Judith Lacy Bozeman" on Justia Law