Sunday, October 2, 2011

Criminal sentencing, bankruptcy, civil rights, and goat cheese dark chocolate truffles

Bender v. Mazda Motor Corp., et al., Court of Appeals 11th Circuit 2011

Docket: 10-14699            Opinion Date: September 23, 2011
Judge: Dubina
Areas of Law: Consumer Law, Injury Law
Appellants appealed the district court's order denying their Rule 60(b) motion for the district court to reconsider its previous order remanding the case to state court. In support of their motion, appellants claimed that, in light of a recent opinion issued by this court clarifying the method for calculating the amount-in-controversy requirement for subject matter jurisdiction, the district court had jurisdiction over the case. The district court denied the motion to reconsider because the case had been remanded to state court and was no longer pending in federal court. The Court agreed and affirmed the denial of appellants' Rule 60(b) motion.

In re A.G.A. Flowers, Inc. ,(Bkrtcy.S.D.Fla.)
Bankruptcy - Dissolved corporate debtors had no right to unclaimed funds of liquidating Chapter 11 estates.
Corporate debtors that were dissolved pursuant to liquidating Chapter 11 plans, which provided for the vesting of estate assets in liquidating trusts for distribution to creditors, but did not provide for the disposition of any unclaimed funds, had no right to recover unclaimed funds in the court's registry pursuant to 11 U.S.C.A. 347(b), the statute providing that, after five years, any unclaimed funds will become property of the debtor, or of the entity acquiring the assets of the debtor. The dissolved corporations were no longer "debtors," for purposes of this statute. The funds had to remain in the court registry, or in the United States Treasury, subject to withdrawal only by creditors entitled to distributions under the confirmed plans.

In re Peacock ,(Bkrtcy.M.D.Fla.)
Bankruptcy - Erroneous admission to court's "core" jurisdiction was consent to its entering final judgment.
A defendant's admission, in its answer to the trustee's complaint, regarding the "core" nature of the claims asserted in the complaint was in the nature of a deemed consent to the bankruptcy court's entry of a final judgment on the trustee's Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA) claims, which the defendant could not at the last minute revoke absent a showing of cause, and perhaps even good cause. Moreover, even if the bankruptcy court were to relieve the defendant of its consent to the court's jurisdiction, it would not exercise its discretion to permissively abstain.

Bazzi v. City of Dearborn, U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals 2011
Docket: 10-1553               Opinion Date: September 29, 2011
Judge: Moore
Areas of Law: Civil Rights
Plaintiff alleges that his former employer and two police officers conspired to bring false charges against him and unlawfully seize him in order to have him sent back to prison on a supervised-release violation by fabricating a police report alleging that plaintiff broke the window of the former employer's car and calling in a false tip that led to search of his car. The charge of violation of supervised release was dropped. The former employer acknowledges that plaintiff did not break the window. The officer was forced to resign and was acquitted of witness and evidence tampering, The district court granted defendants summary judgment in a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part. A reasonable jury could find that the officer agreed to stop plaintiff's car without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, although there was no evidence that the officer who executed the traffic stop shared the greater conspiratorial objective.

Otto-Jones v. Jones,(Fla.App. 2 Dist.)
Education - Evidence did not show that rotating school schedule, whereby child would attend private school for first half of year and public school for second, was in best interest of child.
Under Florida law, the evidence in a domestic relations case did not show that a rotating school schedule, whereby the parties' nine-year-old son would attend a private school for the first half of the school year and attend a public school for the second half of the school year, was in the best interest of the child. On remand, the trial court should hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the school which is in the child's best interest to attend. This decision may not yet be released for publication.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel ,(C.A.11 (Fla.))
International Law - Cargo and wreck of sunken Spanish military vessel were interlinked for sovereign immunity purposes.
Addressing an issue of apparent first impression, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that, for purposes of determining immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), the cargo aboard the Mercedes, a sunken Spanish Navy frigate discovered in international waters, was not severable from the shipwreck. The fact that some of the cargo was owned by private individuals, or had been salvaged from the wreck, did not change the result. Other statutes governing shipwrecks, including the Sunken Military Craft Act (SMCA), which would have governed the salvage claims against the Mercedes, treat cargo as part of the shipwreck, the Court of Appeals reasoned. In addition, principles of comity led the court to consider the potential for injury to the interest of the sovereign, the Kingdom of Spain. The court limited its holding to the facts of the case, where the cargo was found aboard a sunken active duty Spanish military vessel and was legally placed aboard the vessel.

Judiciary -- Funding -- Constitutionality -- Section 19 of chapter 2007-62, Laws of Florida, which established the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (RCC), effectively replacing previous system of appointing private counsel from registry list in cases involving public defender conflicts of interest, violates article V, section 14 of the Florida Constitution -- By amending section 29.008 to include the RCC within the term “public defenders,” the legislature made article V, section 14(c) applicable and effectively mandated that the counties pay overhead costs to house the offices of the RCC -- Section 19 of chapter 2007-62 unconstitutionally shifts the state's responsibility for funding certain costs of court-appointed counsel from the state to the counties where the plain language of article V, section 14(c) only required the counties to pay overhead costs for the offices specified in subsection (c), and that provision did not include the RCC -- Furthermore, the RCC is more akin to private court-appointed counsel where, although RCC counsel are government officers, they do not perform the same constitutional duties as public defenders -- Allowing the legislature to get around the plain language of the constitutional provision by redefining through statute what entities are included in the offices listed would effectively amend the constitution without voter approval.

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