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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal expressly declaring valid Fla. Stat. 775.082(10), holding that subsection (10) violates the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the decision on review, the Fifth District expressly declared subsection (10) valid in the context of rejecting Defendant’s argument that her state prison sentence violated the Sixth Amendment because the jury did not find that she presented a danger to the public under section 775.082(10). Section 775.082(1) requires that a qualifying offender whose sentencing scoresheet totals twenty-two points or fewer be sentenced to a nonstate prison sanction unless the trial court makes written findings that a nonstate prison sanction could present a danger to the public. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that subsection (10) violates the Sixth Amendment because it requires the court, not the jury, to find the fact of dangerousness to the public that is necessary to increase the statutory maximum nonstate prison sanction. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s second successive motion to vacate his judgment of conviction of first-degree murder and sentence of death, holding (1) any error on the part of the postconviction court in failing to hold a case management hearing pursuant to Huff v. State, 622 So. 2d 982 (Fla. 1993), was harmless; and (2) the postconviction court did not err in summarily denying Appellant’s newly discovered evidence claims. In his second successive motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, Appellant alleged newly discovered evidence in the form of an exculpatory affidavit of a witness and new DNA evidence. The postconviction court denied the motion without conducting a case management conference. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s due process rights were not violated by the postconviction court’s failure to hold a Huff hearing; and (2) the postconviction court did not err in summarily denying Appellant’s second successive postconviction motion. View "Taylor v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying a motion for attorney’s fees incurred during a capital postconviction proceeding, holding that the circuit court improperly denied attorney’s fees to a designated attorney. Maria del Carmen Calzon was the lead attorney of a death defendant represented by court-appointed private counsel. Calzon designated Albert A.A. Cartenuto, III as her “designated attorney” to assist in the case. Calzon moved for attorney’s fees. The circuit court denied the motion to the extent that it included Cartenuto’s fees as a designated attorney but granted the motion as to Calzon’s fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying attorney’s fees to Cartenuto as a designated attorney. View "Cartenuto v. Justice Administrative Commission" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief, holding that Mullens v. State, 197 So. 3d 16 (Fla. 2016) controlled the outcome of this case. Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and, after a second penalty phase, was sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed a successive motion to vacate his sentence of death pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851. The postconviction court summarily denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant was not entitled to retroactive application of Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), because his conviction and sentence became final more than two years before Ring was issued; and (2) Appellant’s claim regarding his right to a penalty-phase jury was procedurally barred because it should have been raised on direct appeal. View "Robinson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court partially granting and partially denying Gerald Delane Murray’s initial motion for postconviction relief under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 and denying Murray’s successive postconviction motion, and further denied Murray’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Murray was not entitled to relief on any of his claims on appeal. Murray was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death after four trials and three convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, Murray filed a motion for postconviction relief that was amended four times. The postconviction court granted a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst but denied relief on all other claims. The postconviction court summarily denied relief on Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err by granting Murray a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst; (2) the trial court properly denied Murray’s other initial postconviction motion claims; (3) the summary denial of Appellant’s successive postconviction motion was not in error; and (4) Appellant was not entitled to habeas relief on any of his claims. View "State v. Murray" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Petitioner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus and directed the Clerk of Court to reject any future pleadings or other requests for relief submitted by Petitioner that are related to Petitioner’s criminal cases unless such filings are signed by a member in good standing of The Florida Bar, holding that Petitioner had abused the Supreme Court’s limited judicial resources. Petitioner filed twenty-nine petitions or notices with the Supreme Court since September 17, 2008. On September 12, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed Petitioner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordered Petitioner to show cause why he should not be barred from filing further pro se requests for relief in this Court. The Supreme Court found that Petitioner failed to show cause why he should not be barred from filing further pro se requests for relief in the Supreme Court, holding that Petitioner’s extensive history of filing pro se petitions and requests for relief that were meritless or otherwise inappropriate for the Supreme Court’s review required that Petitioner be barred. View "Marts v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s denial of Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief from a sentence of death, holding that any error in the proceedings below was harmless. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. After unsuccessfully filing his successive motion to vacate a sentence of death under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 Appellant filed this appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) it was reasonable for the postconviction court to deny Appellant’s motion to exceed page limit; (2) the postconviction court did not violate Appellant’s due process rights by failing to hold a case management conference, pursuant to Huff v. State, 622 So. 2d 982 (Fla. 1993), before ruling on his second successive motion for postconviction relief; and (3) Appellant’s remaining claims were meritless. View "Rivera v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed certain portions of the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal holding that chapter 2000-439, section 18, Laws of Florida (the LMHS Lien Law) is invalid under the Florida Constitution, holding that the Second District should not have reached the question of whether the LMHS Lien Law violates the constitutional prohibition against the impairment of contracts under article I, section 10 because the issue was not properly before the court. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Second District correctly found that the LMHS Lien Law violates article III, section 11(a)(9) of the Florida Constitution as a special law pertaining to the “creation, enforcement, extension or impairment of liens based on private contracts”; (2) the Second District erred in addressing the contract-impairment issue because the Attorney General was not served with proper notice as to that issue under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.071; and (3) a discussion of statutory damages was unnecessary in light of the determination that the LMHS Lien Law cannot be enforced due to its unconstitutionality. View "Lee Memorial Health System v. Progressive Select Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court approved of the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in this case concerning the proper interpretation of Florida’s witness tampering statute, Fla. Stat. 914.22, holding that the statute does not require the State to establish that the witness attempted to contact law enforcement during the commission of the underlying criminal offense. The central issue was whether section 914.22(1)(e) requires the State to demonstrate that a witness attempted to contact law enforcement to prove its case in chief on witness tampering. The Supreme Court held (1) the statute does not designate an attempt to contract law enforcement as an element of the crime of witness tampering; and (2) in the instant case, the State presented competent, substantial evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for witness tampering. View "McCloud v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme court affirmed the circuit court’s order granting in part and denying in part Appellant’s motion for DNA testing under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.853, holding that none of Appellant’s claims on appeal had merit. After a retrial, Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal. Appellant later filed his motion for DNA testing of evidence pursuant to Rule 3.853. After an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. Appellant appealed the circuit court’s partial denial of his Rule 3.853 motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in adopting the State’s reasoning and conclusions as to Appellant’s motion in its order; and (2) the partial denial of Appellant’s motion did not violate his Fifth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendment rights. View "Gosciminski v. State" on Justia Law