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

April 2013 Archives

Hill Dissent - Bypass AEDPA for Those Exempt from Execution?

Seven experts. Seven opinions that all agree: Warren Lee Hill, Jr. is mentally retarded. Judge Barkett's passionate dissent starts at a point the majority barely reached when they used procedural hurdles to deny Hill's habeas petition -- the fundamental proposition that Hill, per the Constitution, is exempt from execution.

The crux of her argument is this: no statute, even one as strict as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), should trump the Constitution. Three classes of individuals are exempt from execution, per the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments: the insane, the mentally retarded, and juvenile offenders.

Strict Adherence to AEDPA Means 'Retarded' Inmate Will be Executed

While in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Warren Lee Hill ripped the leg off of a sink and beat a fellow inmate to death while other prisoners watched. He was tried and convicted by a jury and sentenced to death. He appealed his sentence through multiple trips to state and federal courts.

No matter your feelings on the death penalty, his impending execution should be worrisome. The unanimous opinion of seven experts is that Hill is mentally retarded*. It is the timing, however, of those opinions that may cost Hill his life. Four diagnosed him as mentally retarded at the time of his trial. Three initially thought he was malingering and reversed their opinions in the last year.

'Dukes of Hazard' Chase, Arrest Didn't Violate Jilted Man's Rights

"There would be no wedding bells, no wedding cake, and no tuxedo and white dress for Dustin Myers and Kelley Bowman. The couple was engaged to be married, but before the time came to say 'I Do,' Kelley found herself a new Romeo."

Adding financial injury to insult, Kelley followed up the above described jilting by selling many of Dustin's belongings. She then claimed to have lost her engagement ring. Her mother, perhaps feeling sorry for the young man, warned Dustin of her infidelity and told him to come obtain the remainder of his items before her daughter had another yard sale.

Judge Disregards 11th Cir, Allows Baseball Antitrust Lawsuit

Perhaps the oddest thing about the American legal system is the separate state, federal, and administrative courts. The law in federal court can be completely different than the law in the state courthouse next door. And on that same note, an antitrust lawsuit that would be a guaranteed failure in federal court might have a fighting chance in a Florida state court.

Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption is common knowledge by now. In 1922, the Supreme Court declared baseball a game, not a business, and therefore exempt from antitrust provisions. In 1953, SCOTUS compounded the error by upholding their prior ruling, citing Congress' inaction to remedy the problem as justification for continuing preferential treatment. Nearly 20 years later, Justice Blackmun wrote an odd ode to baseball in another upholding of the exemption, this time justified by stare decisis.

Death Row Habeas Petition Doomed by Laziness, Counsel

Note to Death Row inmates: nag your attorney incessantly - your life may depend on it.

Robert Melson was convicted of three counts of capital murder in 1996. He burned through his direct appeals by 2000 and SCOTUS denied his petition for a writ of certiorari on March 5, 2001.

Start the timer.

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), an inmate must file a application for a writ of habeas corpus within one year of the date that the state court judgment becomes final. The clock is tolled while state post-conviction or other collateral review is pending.

11th Circuit Regulates on Dep't of Labor H-2B Regulations

They may be the Department of Labor, but they have no authority over H-2B labor. Temporary foreign workers are governed by the H-2A (agricultural) and H-2B (non-agricultural) programs. While both programs were originally administered by the Attorney General, the authority was later transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. In 1986, Congress split the agricultural workers into the separate H2-A program and granted the DOL rulemaking authority over those workers alone.

Simple enough, right? DHS governs H-2B, DOL governs H-2A.

Except, it apparently wasn’t that simple for the DOL, which issued rules for the H-2B program in 2011. The 11th Circuit today called that rule-making program ultra vires, which in the arena of administrative law, is fightin’ words.