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

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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.

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.

Ricin Possession Charges Dropped for Technicality

Sometimes, a criminal case falls through the cracks.

It shouldn't happen, and everybody knows that -- especially when it's a terrible crime. That's what a federal judge had to deal with in Georgia.

A white supremacist had been charged with possession of ricin -- a biological toxin that can kill you just by inhaling it. But the judge dismissed the case because lawmakers "inexplicably" took it off the dangerous toxin list.

No one likes or wants to be searched at any border. But in these times of hypersensitive border security, with nearly every traveler carrying minimally one or more pieces of high powered technology (seriously, even your first iPhone could do a lot), the issue of electronics border searches is a hot one.

Finding that a search of an electronic device at the border does not require probable cause, nor even reasonable suspicion, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has broken with the Fourth and Ninth Circuits. In United States v. Touset, the defendant was found to be in possession of child pornography on his laptop computer and external hard drive as he crossed the border at customs in the airport in Atlanta, GA. After accepting a plea, the defendant appealed the district court's denial of a motion to suppress the evidence gathered during the border search.

Should Executions Be Made Public?

Before 1936, the United States had a long history of public executions.

Rainey Bethea was the last person to be hanged publicly, when he was put to death that year for murdering and raping a 70-year-old woman. But that "carnival in Owensboro" led to a banning of public executions in America.

Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, changed that when he requested a public execution in 2001. Doyle Lee Hamm wanted next, and a federal judge wanted to give it to him.

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.

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.

Medicare Fraudster's Conviction Affirmed

For the defendant in a multi-million dollar fraud case, it was not a good sign when a juror walked into deliberations wearing a T-shirt that said, "American Greed."

After the jury returned a guilty verdict, the defense attorney filed a motion to interview the juror to find out if he had pre-judged the case and influenced other jurors. The trial judge denied the motion, and an appeals court affirmed.

In United States of America v. Nerey, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the juror's T-shirt message was not enough to prove he was unfair. After all, the court noted, it's a television show.

Sweepstakes Scammers Sentenced

What was the judge thinking when he sentenced four men to prison for a $25 million sweepstakes scam?

The prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence for Matthew Pisoni and heavy sentences for his co-conspirators as well. But U.S. Judge Darrin Gayles sent Pisoni, the ring-leader, to prison for seven years and his co-defendants for lesser times.

Was it out of sympathy for Pisoni, who lost a son to a drug overdose after the conviction? Was it the miscarriage Pisoni's wife suffered after the trial? Or was it the prosecutors, who used a co-defendant to spy on Pisoni's attorneys?