U.S. Eleventh Circuit

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


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.

A company making USB drives discovered that honesty isn't just the best policy -- it's the only policy that the SEC likes. Following some questionable press releases and financial disclosures, the SEC investigated the company and its PR firm, then filed a civil action against them.

A jury found in favor of the SEC at trial. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment in this case of a fairly ham-handed scheme to boost stock prices by lying (and not doing it very well).

A Georgia CEO will not escape his jail sentence after being found guilty of violating the U.S. trade embargo on Iran, the Eleventh Circuit held today. Mark Alexander, who manufactured and sold industrial machines, had been found guilty of trading with Iranian businesses.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and currently forbids virtually all trade with the country. At trial, Alexander claimed the government case against him was a "scam" and that he had been pressured to sell the goods by colleagues.

The State of Indiana is getting flack for passing a "religious freedom restoration act" (RFRA) that critics say would allow businesses to legally discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Indiana joined a significant minority of states (20 with laws actually on the books) in enacting such a law, including all three states in the Eleventh Circuit. Are these states' laws significantly different?