Federico Moreno was appointed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. He served as Chief Judge from 2007 to 2014. In 1992, President Bush appointed Judge Moreno to a seat on the Eleventh Circuit, however the Senate failed to vote on his nomination before the end of President Bush’s term, and President Clinton did not renominate him. From 1986 to 1990, he served as a judge in the Florida state court system, first on the Dade County Court and then on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Prior to his time on the bench, Judge Moreno worked in private practice and briefly as a federal public defender. He attended the University of Miami School of Law.
Cuban migrants who landed on the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys brought an action challenging the Coast Guard’s decision to remove them back to Cuba. The government moved for summary judgment. Judge Moreno denied the motion. He held that the bridge was U.S. territory for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act, therefore migrants who landed on the bridge pier had “dry feet” and were entitled to stay in the United States and apply for asylum.
Plaintiff brought § 1983 claims against the city, its police offices, and owners of a restaurant club, alleging false arrest and First Amendment retaliation. Judge Moreno granted the officers’ and restaurant owners’ motion to dismiss. Judge Moreno held that the officer had arguable probable cause to arrest the plaintiff for trespassing and that the plaintiff failed to establish a causal connection element for his First Amendment retaliation claim.
Guillermo Arbelaez filed a writ of habeas corpus following the Florida Supreme Court’s affirmance of his conviction for first-degree murder and kidnapping, and his death sentence. Arbelaez alleged that he had an intellectual disability and thus could not be executed under Atkins v. Virginia. Judge Moreno denied the petition. Judge Moreno held that the Florida Supreme Court was not unreasonable in holding that (1) Arbelaez was not intellectually disabled; (2) Arbelaez failed to prove concurrent adaptive deficits at time of IQ testing; (3) Arbelaez was not prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to present evidence during penalty phase of his mental illness; (4) Arbelaez was not prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to present evidence during penalty phase of his family history of abuse, neglect, and poverty; and (5) Arbelaez’s counsel was not ineffective in failing to present evidence of petitioner’s epilepsy during guilt phase. In 2016, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Judge Moreno’s decision, and in 2017 the Supreme Court denied Arbelaez’s petition for certiorari.
A conservative non-profit organization filed suit alleging a Sherman Act violation. The complaint alleged that other non-profit organizations entered into an anti-competitive agreement to exclude it from its annual conference and to prohibit its founder from speaking at the conference. Judge Moreno granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that the defendants’ purported agreement was not prohibited by the Sherman Act.