Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s first successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851. Appellant was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. Following a penalty phase bench trial and a Spencer hearing, the trial court sentenced Appellant to death for each of the murders. This appeal concerned the denial of Appellant’s first successive postconviction motion in which Appellant raised several claims in light of Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant validly waived the right to a penalty phase jury, and Appellant’s arguments did not compel departing from precedent denying Hurst relief to defendants that have waived the right to a penalty phase jury. View "Allred v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this appeal from an order entered on Defendant’s postconviction motion to vacate his conviction of first-degree murder and sentence of death and related convictions and sentences, the Supreme Court reversed the portion of the postconviction court’s order granting Defendant a new guilt phase but affirmed the portions of the postconviction court’s order granting Defendant a new penalty phase. The court held that the postconviction court (1) erred in granting relief on Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims regarding the voluntariness and reliability of Defendant’s written statement to the police detailing his involvement in the victim’s death and trial counsel’s guilt phase investigation; and (2) did not err in finding that trial counsel was ineffective for failing adequately to investigate and prepare for the penalty phase. As to Defendant’s cross-appeal, the Supreme Court held that the postconviction court (1) did not err to the extent that it denied four of Defendant’s postconviction claims; and (2) did not err in declining to conduct a cumulative error analysis. View "State v. Morrison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s summary denial of Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851. In his motion, Appellant, a prisoner under sentence of death, raised five claims of newly discovered evidence or Brady violations. The court held (1) all of Appellant’s claims were properly denied by the trial court; and (2) where the only additional evidence presented in this proceeding potentially admissible in any retrial was that regarding evidence addressed in claim two, and there was no reasonable probability that, had this evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the trial would have been different, Appellant was not entitled to a new trial when all of the allegations presented in this proceeding were considered cumulatively. View "Suggs v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court in this case struck certain unconstitutional language from the 2013 amendments to Fla. Stat. 766.106 and 766.1065, which authorized secret, ex parte interviews to the list of informal discovery devices to which a medical malpractice claimant seeking redress must consent, holding (1) the right to privacy in the Florida Constitution attaches during the life of a citizen and is not retroactively destroyed by death, and this constitutional protection shields irrelevant, protected medical history and other private information from the medical malpractice litigation process; (2) in the wrongful death context, standing in the position of the decedent, the administrator of the decedent’s estate has standing to assert the decedent’s privacy rights; and (3) the Legislature unconstitutionally conditioned a plaintiff’s right of access to courts for redress of injuries caused by medical malpractice, whether in the wrongful death or personal injury context, on the claimant’s waiver of the constitutional right to privacy. View "Weaver v. Myers" on Justia Law

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The good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply to law enforcement officers’ warrantless search of Petitioner’s cell phone in this case. Petitioner was charged with one count of traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act, one count of soliciting a minor to commit an unlawful sex act, and three counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor. At the time of Petitioner’s arrest, the arresting officers conducted a search incident to arrest and seized his cell phone. Petitioner filed a motion to suppress the evidence found on his cell phone, arguing that the warrantless search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, relying on the holding in Smallwood v. State (Smallwood II), 113 So. 3d 724 (Fla. 2013), that warrantless cell phone searches are unconstitutional. The First District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that because the officers were relying in good faith on the holding in Smallwood v. State (Smallwood I), 61 So. 3d 448 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011), the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229(2011), the good-faith exception did not apply in this case. View "Carpenter v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s third and fourth successive motions for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 and denied Appellant’s motions for stay of execution. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly denied Appellant’s challenge to the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol; (2) the circuit court properly denied Appellant’s challenges to the power of the Governor to sign death warrants; (3) the circuit court properly found that Appellant’s claim that his sentence was disproportionate was procedurally barred; (4) the circuit court properly sustained the State’s objections to disclosure of certain records; and (5) the circuit court properly rejected Appellant’s various Hurst challenges. View "Hannon v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s third and fourth successive motions for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 and denied Appellant’s motions for stay of execution. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly denied Appellant’s challenge to the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol; (2) the circuit court properly denied Appellant’s challenges to the power of the Governor to sign death warrants; (3) the circuit court properly found that Appellant’s claim that his sentence was disproportionate was procedurally barred; (4) the circuit court properly sustained the State’s objections to disclosure of certain records; and (5) the circuit court properly rejected Appellant’s various Hurst challenges. View "Hannon v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, vacated his sentence of death, and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new penalty phase. Petitioner’s death sentence, which his penalty phase jury recommended by a vote of ten to two, became final in 2004. Petitioner petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus seeking relief under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The Supreme Court held (1) Hurst applies retroactively to Petitioner; and (2) Petitioner’s death sentence violates Hurst, and the error is not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Taylor v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s denial of relief to Appellant, a prisoner under sentence of death. At issue on appeal was the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s second successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851. The Supreme Court held that the postconviction court did not err in summarily denying (1) Appellant’s newly discovered evidence claim regarding certain trial testimony; (2) Appellant’s Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), claim; (3) Appellant’s Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), claim; and (4) Appellant’s cumulative error claim. View "Duckett v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s orders denying Appellant’s successive motions for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851. In 1990, Appellant was convicted of and sentenced to death for first-degree murder. Appellant later filed a federal habeas petition, which was denied. While his federal habeas petition was pending, Appellant filed a successive rule 3.851 motion for postconvcition relief, which the postconviction court summarily denied. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on Appellant’s newly discovered evidence and Brady claims. The postconviction court denied relief after a hearing. During the pendency of the remand, Appellant filed another successive postconviction motion, which the circuit court summarily denied. Appellant appealed the orders denying relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying postconviction relief. View "Smith v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law