Overcash v. Shelnutt, 101218 FED11, 17-13721

Docket Nº:17-13721
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:WILLIAM TODD OVERCASH, an individual, Plaintiff- Appellant, v. MARK D. SHELNUTT, an individual, MARK D. SHELNUTT, P.A., LORI A. FOULTZ, an individual, KENNETH ROBERT PATON, an individual, MIKE CARROLL, an individual, CHRIS BLAIR, an individual, JOE WRIGHT, an individual, ROBERT STEVEN RATH, an individual, JASON CLARK, an individual, DOUGLAS WAT...
Judge Panel:Before WILLIAM PRYOR, NEWSOM, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:October 12, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

WILLIAM TODD OVERCASH, an individual, Plaintiff- Appellant,

HENRY G. FERRO, Interested Party - Appellant,

v.

MARK D. SHELNUTT, an individual, MARK D. SHELNUTT, P.A., LORI A. FOULTZ, an individual, KENNETH ROBERT PATON, an individual, MIKE CARROLL, an individual, CHRIS BLAIR, an individual, JOE WRIGHT, an individual, ROBERT STEVEN RATH, an individual, JASON CLARK, an individual, DOUGLAS WATTS, JR., et al., Defendants - Appellees,

REBECCA A. GUTHRIE, an individual, et al., Defendants.

No. 17-13721

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

October 12, 2018

DO NOT PUBLISH

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 5:15-cv-00555-CEM-PRL

Before WILLIAM PRYOR, NEWSOM, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

The facts underlying this dispute are-to put it charitably-sprawling and convoluted. They are also well known to the parties, so we address them here only as necessary.

William Overcash has taken a kitchen-sink approach to litigating (and in some respects, relitigating) claims arising from the state-court adjudication of his divorce and child-custody proceedings. He sued almost 30 named defendants, and now appeals the district court's application of judicial immunity, its denial of his motions to stay discovery and alter or amend the judgment, its dismissal of his amended complaint with prejudice, and its dismissal of his claims under the Fifth Amendment and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. His attorney, Henry Ferro, appeals the sanctions imposed on him for filing frivolous claims on Overcash's behalf.

Overcash commenced this litigation in Florida state court, where his marriage-which produced one minor child-was dissolved in 2006. Litigation regarding the dissolution and dependency proceedings for Overcash's parental rights have been ongoing for the last 12 years. Although Overcash claims that "[t]here are no adequate opportunities in the state court" to present his federal-law challenges, we note that his federal claims double as attempted collateral attacks on his divorce and custody proceedings. Overcash's appeal before us amounts to a collection of frivolous and otherwise meritless arguments. We affirm the district court in all respects.

I

Overcash first asserts that the 11 state judicial defendants in this suit are not entitled to judicial immunity because they violated administrative judicial-assignment rules and improperly assigned or received his divorce and dependency proceedings. In doing so, he says, the judges acted without jurisdiction and are therefore not entitled to immunity.

The district court dismissed Overcash's claims against the 11 Florida judges. It held that the claims were "premised on [the judges'] alleged misapplication of the law-either substantively to the case or the law of case assignment-and consequent alleged violations of [Overcash's] constitutional rights." Thoroughly fed up with Overcash's vexatious litigation against judicial officers, the district court found it "reprehensible that any attorney admitted to practice in this state would file such blatantly frivolous claims."

We agree with the district court's assessment that this is precisely the type of litigation that the doctrine of judicial immunity was intended to address: judges "should not have to fear that unsatisfied litigants may hound [them] with litigation charging malice or corruption" when they bring unsuccessful claims. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967); see also Weinstein v. City of N. Bay Vill., 977 F.Supp. 2d. 1271, 1281-82 (S.D. Fla. 2013). On appeal, Overcash has just repackaged the same conclusory language regarding alleged conspiracies among state-court judges. He has not asserted any new facts or specific errors by the district court. Overcash claims that the 11 judges "were not judicial officers in the cases" and that the cases were "unlawfully assigned"-and therefore "that jurisdiction never attached due to the unlawful assignments," making all subsequent decisions void.

But none of this is enough to defeat judicial immunity. It is well settled that a "judge is absolutely immune from liability for his judicial acts even if his exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). A judge will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the "clear absence of all jurisdiction." Id. at 356-57; see also Rheuark v. Shaw, 628 F.2d 297, 304 (5th Cir. 1980). 1 Overcash's allegation-that the Florida family law and circuit court judges violated Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.205(a)(4), 2.215(a), (b)(4), and Administrative Order 2001-3 of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Florida-finds no...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP