by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court in granting a petition for writ of quo warranto and ordering that ballot titles and summaries of three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution be stricken from the November 2018 general election ballot, holding that the petition was improperly granted. The amendments at issue were Amendments 7, 9, and 11. In reversing the decision of the circuit court and ordering that the amendments appear on the ballot for the November 2018 general election, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) abused its discretion in granting the petition because the standard for obtaining quo warranty relief was not satisfied; and (2) incorrectly found any deficiency in the proposals or ballot summaries on the merits. View "Detzner v. Anstead" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the League of Women Voters and enjoining Kenneth Detzner, Secretary of the Florida Department of State, from placing Revision 8 on the ballot for the November 2018 general election, holding that the ballot language was defective. The revision at issue sought to revise Article IX, Section 4(b) of the Florida Constitution and allow the power to authorize new charter schools to be assigned to any of a variety of potential public or private entities, rather than district school boards. The circuit court concluded that both the ballot text and summary failed to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of the proposal and that the ballot summary was affirmatively misleading. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ballot summary failed to inform voters of the revision’s true meaning and ramifications, and therefore, the ballot language was clearly and conclusively defective. View "Detzner v. League of Women Voters of Florida" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Defendant was not entitled to Hurst relief, nor was he entitled to relief on his other claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of ten to two. The trial judge imposed a sentence of death. In his successive motion for postconviction relief, Appellant raised four claims based on Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Appellant’s sentence became final prior to Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), Appellant was not entitled to Hurst relief; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his other claims. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in this criminal case, holding that the State was not entitled to the speedy trial rule’s recapture period in Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191, where the State informed Defendant that it had terminated its prosecutorial efforts and failed to notify Defendant that new and different charges based on the same conduct were filed before the speedy trial period expired. The State charged Defendant with tampering with a witness and later dismissed the charges. After the speedy trial period expired, Defendant became aware of new charges based on the same conduct. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for discharge without allowing the State the opportunity to try Defendant within the recapture period. The Fourth District reversed, receding from its prior decisions requiring that the defendant be notified of the charges within the speedy trial period. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that, under the circumstances in this case, the trial court correctly denied the State the recapture period and discharged Defendant. View "Born-Suniaga v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court held that chapter 2013-107, section 1, Laws of Florida, which revised section 90.702, Florida Statutes, which the Court previously declined to adopt to the extent it was procedural, infringes on the Court’s rulemaking authority. After developing mesothelioma, Plaintiff filed this personal injury action claiming that sixteen defendants caused him to be exposed to asbestos. The trial court awarded Plaintiff $8 million in damages apportioned to certain defendants. At issue on appeal was the admission of expert causation testimony. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reviewed the admission of the experts testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993), found that the trial court failed properly to exercise its gatekeeping function as to three experts, and reversed for a new trial as to R.J. Reynolds and remanded for entry of a directed verdict for Crane Co. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), not Daubert, is the appropriate test for Florida courts to determine the reliability of expert testimony before allowing it to be admitted into evidence; and (2) because the causation of mesothelioma is neither new nor novel, the trial court’s acceptance of the expert testimony was proper. View "DeLisle v. Crane Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and other offenses. The jury unanimously recommended a sentence of death by a vote of twelve to zero. Appellant later filed a successive postconviction motion to vacate his death sentence in light of hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The postconviction court denied relief relief after an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any Hurst error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) Appellant’s remaining claims were similarly without merit. View "Anderson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s third successive motion to vacate a sentence of death under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief as a matter of law. Appellant was convicted of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence on appeal. At issue in this appeal was the summary denial of Appellant’s third successive motion for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as a matter of law, Appellant was not entitled to relief, as the Court had previously addressed and rejected each of the claims presented, and Appellant did not provide a compelling argument for the Court to reconsider its previous rulings. View "Zack v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s orders summarily denying Appellant’s fifth and sixth successive motions for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, the postconviction court's order denying Appellant’s motion to amend his sixth successive postconviction motion, and the postconviction court's order denying Appellant’s motion to correct illegal sentence filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.800(a), holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Pending before the Supreme Court were Appellant’s challenges to the summary denials of his fifth and sixth successive postcondition motions and the denials of his motion to correct illegal sentence and motion to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s orders, holding that Appellant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. View "Jimenez v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversing the trial court’s decision imposing consecutive sentences and remanding to the trial court for consideration of whether, in the court’s discretion, it wished for Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently or consecutively, holding that consecutive sentences in this case were impermissible. Defendant was convicted of kidnapping with a firearm, aggravated battery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant was determined to be a habitual felony offender, and the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. The First District affirmed the consecutive sentences. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision and remanded for reconsideration in light of Walton v. State, 106 So. 3 522 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013), and Williams v. State, 186 So. 3d 989 (Fla. 2016). On remand, the First District determined that the Supreme Court did not explicitly discuss a case factually similar to this one and that either concurrent or consecutive sentences were permissible. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Fla. Stat. 775.087(2)(d) neither mandates nor permits consecutive sentences for crimes stemming from a single criminal episode involving a single victim in which the gun was not discharged. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death following a jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eleven to one. The death sentence became final in 1988. Appellant later filed a motion pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 seeking relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The motion was denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death; and (2) Appellant was not denied due process by the substitution of judges on his case between the denial of his motion for postconviction relief and his motion for rehearing. View "Jennings v. State" on Justia Law