U.S. Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Eleventh Circuit - The FindLaw 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Given the success that John Oliver's HBO show "Last Week Tonight" had influencing the net neutrality conversation, maybe the private probation system will have some luck, too.

Thanks in part to Oliver, and to the Department of Justice report on Ferguson, Missouri, the nation knows that local police departments often charge defendants fines and fees well in excess of the original fines. These fees often include making a defendant pay for his own probation, and the proceeds usually go straight to the private probation company.

A federal class action complaint in Georgia, filed last week, wants to challenge that arrangement.

In Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the Eighth Amendment didn't allow for sentencing juvenile offenders to sentences of life without parole (LWOP) for non-homicide offenses. That's all well and good, but what about "de facto LWOP" sentences of 90 years, which would, in the case of one 17-year-old offender, get him out of prison at the ripe old age of 107?

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court issued opinions in four such juvenile life sentence cases, concluding that courts can't sentence juveniles to very long prison terms for non-homicide offenses.

A routine vehicle stop in Miami became anything but routine after a police officer shot a suspect in the groin -- for no apparent reason. Det. Carl Rousseau pulled over a car and reportedly saw the passenger, Robert Valderrama, throw something out the car window that turned out to be a crack pipe.

Even though Valderrama appeared to be compliant during the stop, Rousseau shot him in the groin (refer to the Eleventh Circuit opinion for more of the grisly details). Rousseau talked about the incident for three minutes with his partner, Sgt. Yasima Smith, before Smith called an ambulance, but she said only that there was "a laceration."

Just when you thought it was safe to get a same-sex marriage in Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court -- and not just Chief Justice Roy Moore -- issued a 148-page opinion yesterday ordering some of the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The petition for a writ of mandamus was brought by the State of Alabama, along with another probate court judge, and asked for "a clear judicial pronouncement that Alabama law prohibits the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

Same-sex marriage remains a thorny issue in Alabama, where on January 23, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade found Alabama's same-sex marriage prohibition unconstitutional. In response, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore went on a memoranda rampage, first opining that Granade had no authority to override Alabama state law.

In a second memo issued earlier this week, Moore flat-out ordered state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some judges complied with Granade's order, but many more complied with Moore's by refusing to issue any marriage licenses to anyone at all, under the guise of awaiting further guidance.

Generally, when you want to rely on amateur legal interpretations promising that you'll be "arrested" if you try and do such-and-such things, you're in the realm of some online forum or chain email from Aunt Hilda complaining about how the Obama administration is arresting people who put up Christmas decorations.

But what happens when it's actual lawyers who are making this crazy advice?

A federal judge allegedly gets into a physical fight with his wife. A lawyer gets "seized" at a security checkpoint when she refuses to take off her coat. A child pornographer gets a rehearing because his lawyer was late coming back from lunch.

These were among the most-viewed posts in FindLaw's U.S. Eleventh Circuit Blog this year (though, honestly, a lot of really good ones were missing; c'mon folks, what's wrong with bagel envy?).

For your reading enjoyment, here were the Top 11 blog posts (because it's the Eleventh Circuit, get it?) in 2014:

In Florida, it may be harder than ever to "catch a predator" in Florida. (See what I did there?) Last week, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that surreptitiously recorded statements of child sexual abuse couldn't be admitted at trial.

Richard McDade, the petitioner in this case, was secretly recorded by his stepdaughter, whom he was sexually abusing. The statements amounted to McDade's admission that he was sexually abusing her. The trial court let the audio recordings in.

It's been in vogue for a while to drug test recipients of state and federal welfare, on the theory either that welfare recipients take a lot of drugs or that since "we" are paying "them," then we get to conduct intrusive searches into their lives.

The Eleventh Circuit Court last week affirmed that the state of Florida cannot conduct suspicionless drug testing on welfare recipients.

With 11th Cir.'s Denial, Gay Marriage to Start in Fla. on Jan. 5

Add another state to the list of those that allow same-sex marriages -- unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in first, that is.

On Wednesday, the Eleventh Circuit denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's request to continue blocking same-sex marriages in the state of Florida, which means same-sex couples can start sending out save-the-dates for any time after January 5, 2015. However, there are a couple of (admittedly unlikely) ways in which the High Court could step in and prevent that from happening.