JAMES MICHAEL HAND, JOSEPH JAMES GALASSO, HAROLD W. GIRCSIS, JR., CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL SMITH, WILLIAM BASS, JERMAINE JOHNEKINS, YRAIDA LEONIDES GUANIPA, JAMES LARRY EXLINE, VIRGINIA KAY ATKINS, Plaintiffs - Appellees,
RON DESANTIS, in his official capacity as Governor of Florida and member of the State of Florida's Executive Clemency Board, ASHLEY MOODY, in her official capacity as the Attorney General of Florida and member of the Executive Clemency Board, NICOLE FRIED, in his official capacity as Commissioner of Agriculture and member of the Executive Clemency Board, JIMMY PATRONIS, in his official capacity as Chief Financial Officer and member of the Executive Clemency Board, Defendants - Appellants.
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 4:17-cv-00128-MW-CAS
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, BRANCH, Circuit Judge, and GAYLES,
BRANCH, Circuit Judge.
Executive Clemency Board of the State of Florida (the
"Board") appeals the district court's orders
(1) denying in part its motion for summary judgment; and (2)
permanently enjoining Florida's former system for
re-enfranchising convicted felons. James Hand and eight other
convicted felons (collectively, "Hand") asserted
that the former system-which involved state constitutional,
statutory, and regulatory provisions-facially violated their
First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. On cross-motions for
summary judgment, the district court granted Hand's
motion on three of four counts,  and in a separate order
issued permanent injunctions prohibiting the Board from
enforcing the then-current vote-restoration system and ending
all vote-restoration processes, inter
alia. After granting a motion for stay, we heard
oral argument as to the merits of the Board's appeal. On
November 6, 2018, Florida voters amended their state
constitution by referendum vote as it concerns the
re-enfranchisement of convicted felons. And on July 1,
2019, Florida's legislature revised its statutory scheme
for re-enfranchisement, thus setting into motion a new system
for vote restoration. Under the new system, Hand and his
fellow plaintiffs claim they are eligible to seek restoration
of their voting rights.
jurisdiction to reach the merits of a case only where there
is an active controversy. "The rule in federal cases is
that an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of
review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed."
Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459 n.10 (1974).
"If events that occur subsequent to the filing of a
lawsuit or an appeal deprive the court of the ability to give
the plaintiff or appellant meaningful relief, then the case
is moot and must be dismissed." World Wide Supply OU
v. Quail Cruises Ship Mgmt., 802 F.3d 1255, 1259 (11th
Cir. 2015) (quoting Al Najjar v. Ashcroft, 273 F.3d
1330, 1336 (11th Cir. 2001)).
light of the changes to Florida's voter
re-enfranchisement system since this case began, we no longer
have the ability to accord Hand meaningful relief from the
former system which he challenged. In supplemental briefing
following oral argument, both parties concede that each
individual plaintiff is eligible to seek re-enfranchisement
under Florida's new system. Thus, no plaintiff requires
relief from Florida's former re-enfranchisement system.
We therefore hold that this case is moot.
the district court's order on cross-motions for summary
judgment dated February 1, 2018 is VACATED
as to Counts One, Two, and Three. The district court's
order directing entry of judgment dated March 27, 2018 is
hereby VACATED in its
entirety. This case is hereby
REMANDED with instructions to
DISMISS for mootness.
Honorable Darrin P. Gayles, United States District Judge for
the Southern District of Florida, sitting by
 The district court granted Hand's
motion and denied the Board's motion with respect to
Count One (unfettered discretion in the re-enfranchisement
process violates the First Amendment), Count Two (unfettered
discretion violates the Fourteenth Amendment), and Count
Three (lack of time limits in processing the
re-enfranchisement petitions violates the First Amendment).
The district court denied Hand's motion for summary
judgment and granted the Board's motion for summary
judgment on Count Four (challenging the five- and seven-year
waiting periods before applying for restoration of voting
rights). Count Four is not before us in this appeal.
 Additionally, the district court
directed the Board to promulgate new criteria for
vote-restoration within thirty days of the court's order
and reconsider applicants who had been denied restoration
since the time of the court's first order on
cross-motions for summary judgment.
 Fla. Const. art. VI, § 4(a)
(amended 2018) ("[A]ny disqualification from voting
arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting
rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of
sentence including parole or probation.").
 The legislature amended Fla. Stat.
§ 944.292(1) by adding the following sentence:
"Notwithstanding the suspension of civil rights, such a
convicted person may obtain restoration of his or her voting
rights pursuant to s. 4, Art. VI of the State Constitution
and s. 98.0751." The legislature also enacted Fla. Stat.
§ 98.0751, which in the part relevant here, subsection
(1), states: "A person who has been disqualified from
voting based on a felony conviction for an offense other than
murder or a felony sexual offense must have such
disqualification terminated and his or her voting rights
restored pursuant to ...