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


A recent ruling out of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals confirms that judges can in fact order the release of secret grand jury proceedings for historians to study.

The case involved the "Moore's Ford Lynching" in 1946 which is believed to be the last mass lynching in the U.S. and a catalyst to the civil rights movement. Surprisingly (or perhaps not, given the attitudes of the times), despite hundreds of witnesses, no one was convicted of the murders, and there wasn't even a criminal case. A grand jury did convene, however, and one historian sought to break the secrecy of what went on behind the closed doors of that grand jury.

Court: No Liability for Selling Sperm of Donor With Mental Illness, Criminal Past

James Christian Aggeles learned he could sell more of his sperm if he lied about his educational achievements.

So he became a sperm donor and claimed he was a Ph.D candidate with an IQ of 160. Rene and Trayce Zelt bought it, literally.

In Zelt v. Xytex Corporation, it came out that Aggeles had dropped out of college, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and had a felony conviction.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the execution of Domineque Ray, who was set to be executed in Alabama on February 7. And on February 7, SCOTUS overruled the circuit court's stay.

The circuit court had explained that the district court should have stayed the execution due to the violation of Ray's religious freedom. Notably, the stay did not involve the merits of his case, which involve the rape and murder of a 15-year-old child. Rather, the stay was granted because the prison refused to allow Ray to have his imam present, while it does routinely provide a Christian chaplain in the execution chamber.

Poser Sentenced for Faking Military Service

You are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but a mug shot can tell you a lot more.

To see Edward Liroff is to know him. He was booked for posing as a "war hero" to apply for jobs and to obtain other benefits.

He looked a lot better when he was in uniform, even if he wasn't actually in the service. He'll been serving a sentence now.

$1 Billion Ponzi Scheme Penalty

A federal judge ordered a Florida-based enterprise to pay $1 billion in fines and penalties for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors.

Most of the 8,400 victims were elderly people, many who invested their life savings. They were lured by promises of high returns.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed the charges, saying it was a "business model built on lies." For the operators, however, it was business as usual.

President Donald Trump's advisor and longtime friend, Roger Stone, has been arrested and charged in connection with the Mueller probe in the Florida Federal District Court.

According to reports, the arrest stems from Stone allegedly lying to Mueller's investigators. Stone maintains that he has done nothing wrong, did not lie, and has vowed to plead not guilty at his arraignment in federal court in D.C. next week.

School, Sheriff Had 'No Legal Duty' to Protect Students in Mass Shooting

Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at a Parkland high school, and changed the lives of untold survivors.

Fifteen survivors of the massacre sued the school for failing to protect them, but a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit. The judge said the school and sheriff's officials had "no legal duty" to protect them.

It's another painful chapter in the ongoing tragedy of violence in America's schools. And the survivors' case, for now, is closed.

When the New Year rolls around, the Florida Supreme Court will be making history, and not in a good way. The state's high court will, for the first time in over 35 years, be without an African American justice on the bench.

Apparently, this year is Justice Peggy Quince's last year, as she has hit the retirement age, and she is the lone African American justice on the bench right now. Surprisingly, despite this information being known well in advance, no black candidates were selected for the short-list to be passed on to Governor-elect Ron Desantis for appointment.

Court Revives Grandma's Case Against Officials Who Sent Her to Men's Jail

Fior Pichardo de Veloz was on her way to Miami for the birth of her grandchild when a not-so-funny thing happened.

She was arrested on old drug charges, but that wasn't it. What happened next made all the newspapers: police took her to the men's jail.

It got worse. That's why she sued in Pichardo de Veloz v. Miami-Dade County.

A recent Engle-progeny case decided by the Eleventh Circuit is making headlines as Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds just had a $20 plus million judgment reinstated by an appellate panel.

Sadly, the plaintiff's estate had to bring the appeal as the plaintiff, Judith Berger, passed. Notably though, Mrs. Berger did testify at trial, and won. Unfortunately, during a post-judgment motion, the court vacated the $20 million in punitive damages that were awarded.