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Judge Carnes Says the Darndest Things: 2012 Edition

By Corey Licht, Esq. | Last updated on

Court opinions can be dry, making reading through a stack of them an arduous task. That’s why we’re thankful for judges like Ed Carnes who constantly spice up their opinions with inspired, sometimes bizarre, quotes and references.

This year, our favorite Eleventh Circuit jurist quoted Bob Dylan, added a new line to a Jim Croce song, and made a particularly apt reference to turducken. To wit: Judge Carnes’ top three quotes of 2012.

1. "Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain."

A product liability suit over a hair bleaching product called "Blondest Blonde" is just asking for a Bob Dylan reference. Amber Wright filed the suit against Farouk Systems after Blondest Blonde allegedly caused second and third degree burns to her scalp. Judge Carnes used the opportunity to quote a lyric from Dylan's "Not Yet Dark," describing the flip-side of beauty.

Wright's case hinged on the admissibility of a statement reportedly made by the Farouk Systems chairman Farouk Shami to salon owner Rosemary Weiner, regarding the product's potential dangers. Farouk argued that even if the statement was admissible hearsay, Wright had failed to timely disclose Weiner as a witness. The Eleventh Circuit court remanded the matter for a ruling on the timely disclosure issue.

2. "You don't let a pistol-packing mother catch you naked in her daughter's closet."

It sounds like an old southern saying, but it's Judge Carnes' addition to a famous Jim Croce song. Just as Croce warns us not to tug on Superman's cape or spit in the wind, Carnes offers us another priceless warning in Larry D. Butler v. Sheriff of Palm Beach County, et al.

In that case, 19-year-old Uzuri Collier invited the similarly-aged Larry Butler over her house while her mom was at work. When Dorethea Collier, Uzuri's mother, returned home from her job as a corrections officer, she reportedly found Butler in her daughter's closet "wearing nothing but a look of surprise."

Dorethea allegedly punched Butler, drew her weapon, and threatened to shoot the young man. Butler filed a federal suit, claiming Collier was acting under color of law at the time of the incident. While Carnes, writing for the court, admitted that Collier was "meaner than a junkyard dog," he concluded that the mistreatment didn't occur under color of law.

3. "... a turducken task"

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) litigation is usually a pretty dull affair, but Judge Carnes found a way to lighten the mood in Federal Trade Commission v. Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al. In the opinion, Carnes noted that the FTC's approach to pay-for-delay challenges would require the court to decide "how some other court in some other case at some other time was likely to have resolved some other claim if it had been pursued to judgment."

"If we did that we would have to be deciding a patent case within an antitrust case about the settlement of the patent case, a turducken task," Judge Carnes wrote.

What new gems will Judge Ed Carnes give us in the New Year? Come on back to FindLaw's 11th Circuit Blog to find out.

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