In Alabama State Conference of the NAACP v. State of Alabama, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed a private citizen’s ability to sue a state in federal court. Generally, suits against a state by its own citizens are prohibited under the Eleventh Amendment, but there are exceptions to this general rule. In this case, the appeals court found that the Voting Rights Act gives private citizens a right of action against states. The court agreed with its sister circuits which had already ruled on this issue, concluding it is “difficult to conceive of any reasonable interpretation . . . that does not involve abrogation of the state’s immunity.”
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If a prisoner’s claim requires dismissal under the “three-strikes provision” but is also frivolous or unmeritorious, must the court dismiss the claim without prejudice or may it opt to dismiss the claim on the merits with prejudice instead? This question was presented to the Eleventh Circuit in White v. Lemma. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that “though a court must procedurally dismiss without prejudice the claim of a prisoner who has struck out under the three-strikes provision and failed to pay the filing fee, the court may also consider the merits to dismiss the case with prejudice instead.”
In Lewis v. Governor of Alabama, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed a city-versus-state conflict over minimum wage in Alabama. This debate over minimum wage is a topical one, both in the state and across the country, and proponents on both sides of the issue followed the case closely. However, rather than entering the minimum wage debate and addressing the issue on its merits, the court dismissed the case for a lack of standing and left the door open for continued discussion.
Ian Huyett & Brian Quirk*
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Legal scholarship on the blockchain has largely focused on how the law might respond to the challenges it raises or may one day raise. Some scholars have grappled with how cryptocurrency might complicate the administration of wills, for example. Others have focused on fears that the blockchain will be used to evade the power of the legal system. The literature is only beginning to investigate a more interesting question: how the blockchain might serve the preexisting demands of the law.
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In a case of first impression, Boatman v. Berreto, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether a civilly committed person could utilize the prison mailbox rule. The original mailbox rule, stemming from contract law, is the principle that filing or service of a document occurs on the date of mailing. Similarly, the Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(c)(1), sometimes called the prison mailbox rule, allows an inmate’s notice of appeal to be considered timely if it was “deposited in the institution’s internal mail system on or before the last day for filing.” In the Eleventh Circuit, a pro se inmate’s notice of appeal is presumed submitted on the day he signed it, absent contrary evidence.
In United States v. Perez, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Defendant-Appellant Roberto Arturo Perez’s conduct while robbing two banks did not constitute threats of death, vacating Perez’s sentence and remanding to the District Court for the Southern District of Florida for resentencing. This case had no bearing on Perez’s guilt, as he pled guilty to both charges. Following his guilty plea, Perez was assigned a combined adjusted offense level of twenty-three in his Pre-Sentence Investigation Report which included a two-level enhancement for making threats of death. Based on this offense level and criminal history category, Perez’s sentencing guideline range was forty-six to fifty-seven months in prison. Perez appealed, arguing that the district court erred in applying the two-level threat-of-death enhancement during his sentencing. On appeal, the court ultimately agreed with Perez that his conduct would not have generated a fear of death in a reasonable person; therefore, the appeals court remanded the case to the district court for resentencing.
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For Cambridge Christian School (Cambridge), prayer before football games is a “long standing tradition.” A student, parent, or school employee delivers a prayer over a loudspeaker at all home events and at away events when possible. However, at the 2015 Florida Division 2A high school state championship game, against University Christian School (University), Cambridge was denied the use of the loudspeaker by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). This decision prompted Cambridge to bring a lawsuit, raising claims under the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of both the United States and Florida Constitutions.
In Daker v. Jackson, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court to dismiss Waseem Daker’s complaint, determining that Daker had at least three strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and that Daker’s challenge to the constitutionality of § 1915(g) failed. In support of his first claim, Daker alleged that the seven dismissals used by the district court in determining his three strike status were errors. Second, Daker challenged the “three-strike” provision’s constitutionality, asserting that it violates the First Amendment’s “breathing space” principle because it does not provide a margin of error and punishes pro se litigants for honest mistakes. The court addressed both claims in turn.
In Cromartie v. Shealy, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss Cromartie’s § 1983 complaint and deny his motion for a stay of execution. The court also denied as moot Cromartie’s emergency motion for a stay of execution. Cromartie filed a motion asking for a new trial and DNA testing on various items that had been introduced into evidence in his trial. In his motion, he contended that two new advancements in DNA technology would prove that one of his accomplices was the actual shooter.