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Bonner v. City of Prichard

661 F.2d 1206 (1981)

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Bonner v. City of Prichard

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

661 F.2d 1206 (1981)

Facts

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit was established on October 1, 1981, through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act of 1980 (the act). The former Fifth Circuit was divided into two new circuits, the Eleventh Circuit and the new Fifth Circuit. Section 9 of the act provided instructions for cases that had been filed with the former Fifth Circuit before the new circuits were established. Section 9(1) explained that if a case had been submitted for a decision, the case should proceed as if the act did not exist. Under that section, a case would be decided as if it were being decided by the former Fifth Circuit. Section 9(2) explained that if a case had not been submitted for a decision, the case should be transferred to the new court that it would have originated in under the act. Under that section, for example, a case that was still proceeding through court or on appeal in the Eleventh Circuit should be treated as if it had always been in the Eleventh Circuit. Larry Bonner (plaintiff) had been placed in the Prichard City Jail in Prichard, Alabama, while awaiting trial. Bonner filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Prichard (defendant) alleging his constitutional rights had been violated while in jail. Bonner was released from jail before his case was heard, and the federal district court dismissed the case because Bonner was no longer in jail. Bonner appealed. In an earlier case, the former Fifth Circuit had held that a plaintiff’s case complaining about his treatment in a city jail could not be dismissed merely because the plaintiff was no longer in the jail. Bonner’s case had not been submitted for decision before the Eleventh Circuit was created and therefore fell under § 9(2) of the act. The Eleventh Circuit heard Bonner’s case en banc to determine whether the Eleventh Circuit should follow the precedents of the former Fifth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Godbold, C.J.)

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