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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court denying in part John William Campbell’s amended motion to vacate his conviction of first-degree murder and sentence of death filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 and denied Campbell’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Campbell was not entitled to the relief he sought. Campbell was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Campbell later filed a motion to vacate judgment and sentence, raising several claims. The postconviction court granted one of the claims, awarding Campbell a new penalty phase based upon Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), dismissed as moot Campbell’s remaining penalty-phase claims, and denied the remaining claims. Campbell appealed and filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order and denied habeas relief, holding (1) the postconviction court properly denied relief on Appellant’s challenged claims; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to habeas relief on his claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. View "Campbell v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this case concerning the vacancies created by the mandatory retirements of certain justices, the Supreme Court held that the phrase “within thirty days from the occurrence of a vacancy” in Fla. Const. art. V, 11(c) requires the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) to make its nominations no later than thirty days after the occurrence of a vacancy and does not prohibit the JNC from acting before a vacancy occurs. On October 15, 2018, the Supreme Court issued an order holding that, assuming that Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince finish their terms, the vacancies created by the justices’ mandatory retirements would occur outside Governor Scott’s term in office. The Court directed the JNC to submit its nominations by November 10, 2018. The Court then further clarified its holding with this opinion and recognized that there was no impediment to the JNC reopening its application period for the vacancies at issue in this case. The Court denied any additional relief. View "League of Women Voters of Florida v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered into between Judge Deborah White-Labora, a judge of the Miami-Dade County Court, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) to the JQC’s finding that Judge White-Labora’s misconduct violated two canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and approved the stipulated discipline of a public reprimand, holding that there was clear and convincing evidence to support the findings of fact for the charges. The JQC alleged that Judge White-Labora improperly provided a character reference letter on her official court stationary on behalf of a criminal defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation to the allegation and concluded that the judge violated Canons 1 and 2 by engaging in such conduct. The Court then held that, under precedent, Judge White-Labora’s conduct warranted a public reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Deborah White-Labora" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the postconviction court denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that the judge who heard Appellant’s motion should have recused herself. Appellant was sentenced to death following a jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eleven to one. Appellant’s sentence of death became final in 1990. In 2017, Appellant filed the successive postconviction motion at issue in this case seeking relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). Judge Linda McCallum summarily denied the motion. Appellant then filed a motion to disqualify judge McCallum on the basis that she was an assistant state attorney working on capital cases at the time of Appellant’s postconviction proceedings. Judge McCallum denied the motion. The Supreme Court remanded this case for reassignment to another huge for evaluation of Appellant’s claims, holding that Judge McCallum should have granted Appellant’s motion to disqualify. View "Reed v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s summary denial of Appellant’s successive postconviction motion to vacate his sentences of death under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that the record conclusively demonstrated that Appellant was not entitled to relief. In 1986, Appellant was convicted of two counts of murder. Appellant’s death sentences became final in 1989. In the instant appeal, Appellant argued that the postconviction court erred in denying his intellectual disability claim without holding an evidentiary hearing and in denying his claim under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the record conclusively showed that Appellant’s intellectual disability claim was untimely and that Appellant’s Hurst claim did not entitle him to relief. View "Harvey v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The death sentence was imposed following a jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of seven to five. Appellant’s death sentence became final in 1997. In 2017, Appellant filed the successive motion for postconviction relief at issue in this case, seeking relief pursuant to Hurst. The postconviction court summarily denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death, and therefore, Appellant was not entitled to the relief he claimed. View "Mungin v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court approved the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal ruling that the existence of a Facebook “friendship” was not a sufficient basis to disqualify a trial court judge, holding that the existence of a Facebook “friendship” was not a sufficient basis for disqualification. A law office and attorney petitioned the Third District for a writ of prohibition to disqualify the trial court judge in the underlying case based on the fact that an attorney appearing before the trial judge was listed as a “friend” on the trial judge’s personal Facebook page. The Third District denied the petition for writ of prohibition, ruling that an allegation that a trial judge is a Facebook “friend” with an attorney appearing before the judge, standing alone, does not constitute a legally sufficient basis for disqualification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where Facebook “friendships” regularly involve strangers, there was no reason that this particular relationship should be singled out and subjected to a per se rule of disqualification. View "Law Offices of Herssein and Herssein, P.A. v. United Services Automobile Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s death sentence and remanded this case to the trial court for a new penalty phase, holding that the error pursuant to Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and other crimes. The jury recommended a sentence of death by a vote of nine to three on the murder charge. The trial court imposed a death sentence on the murder charge and lesser sentences on the other charges. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was entitled to a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst. The Supreme Court agreed, vacated Defendant’s death sentence but affirmed his convictions and sentences on all lesser charges, holding that Hurst-related precedent required reversal of Defendant’s death sentence. View "Tisdale v. State" 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 under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief pursuant to Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), nor was he entitled to relief on his other claims. Appellant was convicted of the 1992 first-degree murder of his wife. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of seven to five. The trial court imposed a sentence of death. Appellant later filed a successive motion to vacate his death sentence in light of Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst. The circuit court summarily denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant’s sentence became final prior to Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), Appellant was not entitled to Hurst relief. View "Spencer v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the decision of the First District Court of Appeal affirming the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to vacate his 1000-year sentences with parole eligibility pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850, holding that Defendant’s sentences did not violate the categorical rule of Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). Defendant committed nonhomicide crimes at age seventeen and received concurrent sentences of 1000 years. The Parole Commission, after eleven review hearings, calculated a presumptive parole release date of 2352. After the United States Supreme Court decided Graham and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), Defendant filed a motion to vacate his sentences pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850, arguing that his sentences violated the Eighth Amendment as delineated in Graham. The trial court denied the motion, and the First District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to resentencing under chapter 2014,200, Laws of Florida. View "Franklin v. State" on Justia Law