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


The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Fourth Amendment rights of a man convicted of inducing and assisting immigrants to illegally enter the United States were not violated when federal authorities reviewed the GPS log found aboard his boat. Perhaps the most curious fact is that the defendant actually consented to a search of his boat both verbally and in writing.

During the search, inside one of the boat's compartments, a GPS device was found. When the data on the device was reviewed, it was revealed that the boat captain, Maikel Suarez Plasencia, had been less than forthcoming with the authorities when they found him in his broken down boat, beached along a public waterway. Federal authorities connected Suarez to a group of over 20 undocumented individuals from Cuba that had been dropped off elsewhere and claimed to have washed ashore on a raft.

This week, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant. If confirmed, Grant will fill the soon to be vacated seat by Justice Julie Carnes, who will be stepping down to senior status this June.

Interestingly, Grant only recently took the bench in Georgia in 2017. From 2015 to 2017, she served as the Solicitor General for the state of Georgia. After earning her J.D. from Stanford, she served as a law clerk to Justice Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Notably, Grant also held a few roles during the last Bush administration.

iPhone Seizure at Accident Scene Violated 4th Amendment

If you have teenagers with cell phones, do not let them see this story.

A federal appeals court said it is a Fourth Amendment violation to take away a person's cell phone without a "reasonable basis." Of course, that applies when it's the government taking the phone.

But still, you may want to think twice about explaining the constitutional nuances to a kid who has a death grip on a cell phone. For cops, well, that's this story.

FDA, Justice Shut Down Sexual Enhancement, Weight Loss Business

'Bulls genital male pills are ALL NATURAL,' said the sexual enhancement advertisement, but not anymore.

MyNicNaxs, a Florida company, nixed its ads because a federal court permanently enjoined it from selling unapproved and misbranded drugs. The U.S. Justice Department announced the court order after a receiving a request from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"When a company fails to disclose pharmaceutical ingredients in its products, consumer safety can be put at risk," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department's Civil Division. But what about the bull?

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the search of a smartphone at the border does not require a warrant, or even probable cause, even if we're talking about a forensic search.

The underlying criminal case involved the conviction of a man for possession of child pornography. Law enforcement discovered illegal videos and images as a result of searching his phone at the U.S. border crossing area at a port in Florida. The border agent initially saw a few videos he believed depicted minors in sex acts, and then had a DHS agent take over from there.

There's the one percent, then there are one percenters. And then there are these three alleged one percenters who sued law enforcement after the improper use of their driver license photos was discovered.

The three motorcycle club members were part of a group of seven, singled out by law enforcement, to have their driver license pictures used for lobbying purposes. On the assumption that their images would frighten state lawmakers away from passing an open carry law, the plaintiffs' pictures (without any other identifying information) were distributed to the lawmakers by the department's government liaison alongside information explaining that these were the type of people who would utilize the open carry law.

In a line of cases that even the most cynical of tort reformer wouldn't blink an eye at, another tobacco company appeal has been swatted down by the appellate courts.

In one of the thousands of Engle progeny cases, R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris unsuccessfully lobbed a Hail Mary appeal and, not surprisingly, lost. The tobacco giants challenged the multi-million dollar jury award to an individual plaintiff that suffered the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes.

Georgia Must Pay $2.1 Million to Feds for Grant Fraud

A decade ago, the Georgia Department of Education won a federal grant for $10.7 million to help students at high-poverty, low-performing schools.

It was all good except for one thing: Georgia cheated when it distributed the grant. It held a competition to award the money to local organizations, but rigged the results.

Georgia agreed to pay back the federal government, but then asked a federal court for mercy in Georgia Department of Education v. United States Department of Education. It didn't work.

Court Blocks Segregationist School Plan in Alabama

As a young civil rights lawyer, U.W. Clemon lost an important desegregation battle against the Jefferson County school district in Alabama.

A federal appeals court later reversed in his favor, however, with orders that set in motion desegregation in schools there and across the country. A lifetime of litigation later, Clemon lost it again.

In Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education, a trial judge said the people of Gardendale could secede from the school district to form their own school system so long as they complied with the decades-old orders. That was not a victory for civil rights -- until the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Taxpayer's Affidavit Can Preclude Summary Judgment

A federal appeals court gave some good news to taxpayers, and to one taxpayer in particular.

Estelle Stein had been fighting the Internal Revenue Service over $220,000 in assessments, penalties and interest. She swore she paid her debt, but a judge didn't buy the affidavit and entered summary judgment for the government.

The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling en banc in United States of America v. Stein, sent the case back to a three-judge panel and overruled its own precedent. It's not about the weight of evidence; it's about disputed evidence.