U.S. Eleventh Circuit

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


Seven prison officers who had been accused of showing deliberate indifference to an inmate's suicide are protected by qualified immunity, the Eleventh Circuit ruled on Wednesday. After Darius James killed himself while awaiting trial, his mother sued the officers, alleging that they knew of James' suicide risk and did nothing.

James' mother had failed to show that individual officers had a subjective knowledge of the risk of suicide, the Eleventh Circuit found. While there was circumstantial evidence that prison officials generally may have been aware of James' suicide risk and may have mishandled his care, there was not enough evidence specific to the officers to counteract their qualified immunity.

If you sabotage your own trial, don't expect a successful appeal in the Eleventh. That's the lesson a Georgia man who stole over $4 million in a yearlong credit card scam learned the hard way, recently.

Jean-Daniel Perkins attempted to avoid conviction by refusing counsel and not attending his trial. Perkins thought he had found "one weird trick" to beat the legal system. And now, judges do hate him, and his tricks didn't work.


Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Alabama, lost his motion for a new trial last week. Siegelman was convicted of bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice in 2006, following an investigation that many Democrats argued was politically motivated, but which Republicans claimed revealed extensive corruption.

After a series of appeals, Siegelman moved for a new trial, based on allegations that U.S. Attorney Leura Canary participated in his prosecution after she had disqualified herself due to conflicts of interest. The Eleventh Circuit rejected his claims, finding that Canary's involvement did not deprive him of his right to a disinterested prosecutor.

A Clearwater police officer who pulled a woman from her car, resulting in significant injury, after she refused to allow him to search wasn't acting outside clearly established law, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled. The decision overturns a district court ruling that the officer used excessive force and was not entitled to qualified immunity.

The incident began when Officer Jeffery Adkisson, of Clearwater, Florida, pulled Sarita Merricks over after he suspected her car's windows were illegally tinted. He claimed to have smelled marijuana smoke, though Merricks denied that she or anyone else in the car had smoked. When Adkisson asked if he could search, Merricks repeatedly refused.

Over the course of a few years, a high school student named J.S. began having a sexual relationship with his teacher, Thomas Keelan. Suspecting an inappropriate relationship, J.S.'s parents enrolled him in a treatment program. After completing the program, J.S. decided to cooperate with law enforcement.

J.S. made a wiretapped phone call to Keelan, who then drove down to Florida to have sex. Guess what? Busted!

The First Amendment gives you a lot of rights, but among them you won't find "singing" -- at least not in a post office. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week affirmed the dismissal of a claim brought by Eric Watkins, who was kicked out of a U.S. Post Office when he refused to stop singing an "antigay" song.

As the Hare Krishnas found out the hard way, not all government property is open for all speech activity, all the time.

After a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit ruled that there was a Fourth Amendment right to privacy in historical cell site data, the government requested and was granted an en banc rehearing.

Yesterday, the en banc court reversed the panel and found that there is no constitutional right to privacy in historical location information because cell phone location information is voluntarily conveyed to a third party -- the phone company.

While Lumber Liquidators is under a microscope for its potentially toxic laminate flooring, at least one flooring company is getting some good news. After refusing to be walked all over by the competition, Mannington Mills, a laminate manufacturer, has gotten support from the Eleventh Circuit.

After the company designed a rustic, imitation-wood flooring, it soon found almost identical pieces for sale by a competitor. There wasn't much Mannington could do about it, a district court ruled, since the old wood design wasn't original enough to justify copyright protection. The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, recognizing the artistry behind plastic flooring and restoring Mannington's copyright protections.

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, state prisoners asserting a civil rights violation have to show that they've exhausted all their state administrative remedies before going into federal court.

The problem is that, not infrequently, these "remedies" are so difficult or impossible to pursue that they've functionally nonexistent. That's what happened to Moliere Dimanche Jr., a prisoner in Florida who says his claims of retaliation by prison guards fell on deaf ears.

Last year, denizens of the Eleventh Circuit were shocked to learn that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller had been charged with battery after his wife made a 911 call from a hotel.

Fuller was formally charged with battery, but that was just the start of his problems. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reassigned his cases and suspended him from receiving new ones. Both of Alabama's senators called for his to step down. Now, though, at least the criminal component of this saga is over: The battery charge against him has been dismissed.