United States District Court, S.D. Florida
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS [DE
WILLIAM MATTHEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon the Defendant, Justin R.
Harris' ("Defendant") Motion for Attorneys'
Fees and Costs ("Motion") [DE 348]. The Motion was
referred to the undersigned by United States District Judge
Robin L. Rosenberg. See DE 351. The Government filed
a response [DE 358], the City of Boynton Beach filed a
response [DE 360], and Defendant filed a reply [DE 365]. The
Court held a hearing on the matter on May 31, 2018. This
matter is ripe for review.
8, 2017, Defendant was charged by way of Indictment with one
count of deprivation of rights under color of law, 18 U.S.C.
§ 242, and two counts of falsification of a record, 18
U.S.C. § 1519, for an incident that occurred on August
8, 2014. See DE 1. On June 8, 2017, the Palm Beach
County Police Benevolent Association ("PBA")
requested in writing that the City of Boynton Beach provide
legal representation for Defendant, pursuant to Florida
Statute § 111.065. [DE 348, Ex. 1]. The City declined
the request on July 5, 2017, stating that it was the
City's position that all the requirements of Florida
Statute § 111.065 had not been met. [DE 348, Ex. 2]. The
PBA then retained Attorney Jonathan Wasserman on behalf of
Defendant. [DE 348, p. 2].
November 9, 2017, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty
on all charges in favor of Defendant. See DE 161. On
March 6, 2018, the PBA requested compensation for reasonable
attorney's fees from the City in writing with the
attorney times records attached pursuant to Florida Statute
§ 111.065. [DE 348, Ex. 3]. On March 15, 2018, the City
of Boynton Beach declined the request to pay for
attorney's fees. [DE 348, Ex. 4]. In response to the
City's letter, Defendant filed his Motion [DE 348] on
April 16, 2018. In Defendant's Motion [DE 348], he
asserts that, pursuant to Florida Statute § 111.065, the
Court retains jurisdiction over the matter and he is entitled
to attorney's fees and costs.
Government's response [DE 358], the Government explains
that, while it does not take a substantive position in the
matter, it believes that the Motion should be denied for lack
of jurisdiction. The Government asserts that a state statute
does not automatically confer jurisdiction on a federal
court. Id. at pp. 1-2. The Government maintains that
Defendant does not cite any provision of Article III or any
federal statute that could confer jurisdiction over the
motion, and, because federal courts only have power that is
authorized by Article III or Congressional statutes, there is
no basis for jurisdiction. Id. at p. 2.
Additionally, the Government notes that a defendant being
prosecuted by the Government in federal court may only
recover legal fees and expenses under the Hyde Amendment.
Id. Finally, the Government contends that
Defendant's dispute with the City is contractual in
nature, and is therefore governed by state law. Id.
at p. 3.
City of Boynton Beach's response [DE 360, pp. 2-6], it
argues that the request for attorney's fees and costs is
untimely under Florida Statute § 111.065. The City also
contends that Defendant is not entitled to attorney's
fees under § 111.065(3). Id. at pp. 6-7. At the
May 31, 2018 hearing, the City of Boynton Beach also adopted
the Government's argument regarding lack of jurisdiction.
reply [DE 365], Defendant argues that the court retains
jurisdiction over the matter, and he is entitled to
attorney's fees. Defendant contends that, because the
City declined to provide legal representation for Defendant,
Florida Statute § 111.065(4) applies. Id. at p.
4. Defendant further asserts that the Court retains ancillary
jurisdiction over the matter because the both prongs of the
test set forth in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 379-80 (1994), are satisfied here.
Id. at pp. 3-5. Defendant argues that the
attorney's fees and costs issue is wholly dependent on
the facts of the underlying criminal case. Id.
Defendant further asserts that the request for attorney's
fees was timely filed. Id. at pp. 5-7. Finally,
Defendant argues that his actions do not constitute an
omission or commission that would fall under Florida Statute
§ 111.065(3)(c). Id. at pp. 7-8.
first issue the Court must consider is whether it has
jurisdiction to grant the relief sought in Defendant's
Motion. The Court notes that defense counsel stated during
the May 31, 2018 hearing that Defendant is not seeking relief
under the Hyde Amendment, but solely under Florida Statute
§ 111.065. Therefore, there is no federal statute or law
at issue. The only possible way that this Court could have
jurisdiction over Defendant's Motion is if it has
Kokkonen, supra, which is cited by both Defendant
and the Government in their briefs, the parties arrived at a
settlement agreement and executed a stipulation and order of
dismissal with prejudice, which order did not reference the
settlement agreement or reserve district court jurisdiction
over the agreement. Id. at 375. A dispute arose
regarding the settlement agreement, and the respondent filed
a motion in the district court to enforce the agreement.
Id. The Supreme Court explained that,
"[f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute (citation omitted), which is not to be expanded by
judicial decree (citation omitted)." Id. at
377. The Court reasoned that the doctrine of ancillary
jurisdiction has been applied for two purposes: "(1) to
permit disposition by a single court of claims that are, in
varying respects and degrees, factually interdependent
(citation omitted); and (2) to enable a court to function
successfully, that is, to manage its proceedings, vindicate
its authority, and effectuate its decrees (citation
omitted)." Id. at 379-80.
counsel argued at the May 31, 2018 hearing that
Kokkonen is distinguishable from the case at hand
because Kokkenen involved a settlement agreement
and, thus, was a contract case. However, it is clear to the
Court that the black letter law set forth in
Kokkenen is applicable in this case. Defense counsel
also stated at the May 31st hearing that Defendant
believes that the Court has ancillary jurisdiction under the
first prong of the Kokkenen test. This prong
requires that the underlying criminal case and the
attorney's fees and costs issue be factually
interdependent. The Court simply cannot find that the
underlying criminal case and the attorney's fees and
costs issue are factually interdependent. Rather, the
attorney's fees and costs issue is a state court contract
dispute that cannot be brought in this federal district
Court notes that Defendant has not cited one case in which a
defendant has successfully obtained attorney's fees after
filing a motion pursuant to Florida Statute § 111.065 in
federal court. The Court's independent research has not
found any case which authorizes the relief sought by
Defendant in this case. Pursuant to Kokennen,
"[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this
limited jurisdiction, Turner v. Bank of North
America, 4 U.S. (4 Dall.) 8, 11, 1 L.Ed. 718 (1799), and
the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party
asserting jurisdiction, McNutt v. General Motors
Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 182-183, 56 S.Ct. 780,
782, 80 L.Ed. 1135 (1936)." 511 U.S. at 377.
only case relied on by Defendant at the May 31st
hearing was United States v. Weissman, No. S2 94 CR.
760 (CSH), 1997 WL 334966, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. June 16, 1997),
supplemented, No. S2 94 CR. 760 CSH, 1997 WL 539774
(S.D.N.Y. Aug. 28, 1997). In Weissman, an unreported
case out of the Southern District of New York, a jury
convicted a defendant of three charges. 1997 WL 334966, at
*1. The defendant's former employer later informed him
that it would no longer advance funds to meet the expense of
his future legal expenses or cover the most recently incurred
costs of his defense. Id. The defendant moved the
district court to compel his former employer to pay the
costs. Id. ...