by
The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeals, which held on appeal in this case that trial courts may apply a contingency fee multiplier to an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party only in “rare” and “exceptional” circumstances. Petitioners, the insureds in a successful dispute with their homeowners’ insurance carrier, argued before the Supreme Court that the Fifth District’s decision misapplied Supreme Court precedent from Florida Patient’s Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So. 2d 1145 (Fla. 1985), and its progeny. The Supreme Court agreed with Petitioners, holding that there is no “rare” and “exceptional” circumstances requirement before a trial court may apply a contingency fee multiplier. View "Joyce v. Federated National Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s eighth successive postconviction motion in which Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of his sentences of death. The sentences of death were imposed following the jury’s nonunanimous recommendations for death. Appellant argued, among other things, that he was entitled to relief based on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The Supreme Court held (1) because Appellant’s sentences were final in 1986 he was not entitled to relief based on Hurst; and (2) Appellant’s remaining claims to relief are rejected based on recent caselaw. View "Lambrix v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Stand Your Ground law does not confer civil liability immunity to a criminal defendant based upon an immunity determination in the criminal case. In reaction to Plaintiff attacking him without provocation, Defendant struck Plaintiff’s face with a cocktail glass, resulting in permanent loss of sight in Plaintiff’s left eye. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging battery and negligence. Defendant asserted the affirmative defense of immunity under the Stand Your Ground Law. Defendant then filed a petition for writ of prohibition, arguing that the circuit circuit lacked jurisdiction over him based upon the circuit court’s conclusion that Defendant was immune under the Stand Your Ground Law in a criminal case involving the same facts and parties. The court of appeal granted the petition, ruling that Fla. Stat. 776.032 guarantees a single Stand Your Ground immunity determination for both criminal and civil actions. The Supreme Court quashed the court of appeal’s decision, holding that the Stand Your Ground law does not confer civil liability immunity to a criminal defendant who is determined to be immune from prosecution in the criminal case. View "Kumar v. Patel" on Justia Law

by
Possession of a driver license is a prerequisite to a conviction pursuant to Fla. Stat. 233.34(5), which provides a third-degree felony penalty for “habitual traffic offenders” who drive with a driver license that has been revoked under Fla. Stat. 322.264. The Supreme Court approved of the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal in this case and disapproved of decisions of the Second, Fourth, and Fifth District Courts of Appeal to the extent that they were inconsistent with this opinion. The Third District affirmed the order of the trial court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges of violating section 322.34(5) and reducing his charges to driving without a valid driver license where Defendant had never possessed a Florida driver license. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that defendants who have never possessed a driver license may not be charged under section 322.34(5). View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s fourth successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 and denied relief based on Hurst v. Florida, 577 U.S. __ (2016), holding (1) the circuit court correctly found that Appellant was not eligible for the death penalty due to his alleged intellectual disability in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hall v. Florida, 572 U.S. __ (2014), because Appellant did not qualify as intellectually disabled under Florida law; and (2) because Appellant’s convictions and sentences became final in 1995 he was not entitled to relief under Hurst. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner, a prisoner under a sentence of death for the murders of two victims. The court held (1) Petitioner was not entitled to a cumulative review of evidence supporting his alleged actual and legal innocence under due process principles; (2) Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his claim that he was denied his fundamental right to testify; and (3) Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his claim that he was unconstitutionally denied access to materials that may contain DNA evidence. View "Lambrix v. Jones" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, vacated his sentence of death, and remanded for a new penalty phase, holding that Petitioner’s death sentence violated Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death for two counts of first-degree murder. A jury recommended a sentence of death by a vote of eight to four. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to death for both murders. The Supreme Court concluded that the Hurst error that occurred during the penalty phase was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and that the matter must be remanded for a new penalty phase proceeding consistent with Hurst. View "Doorbal v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law