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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying in part and dismissing in part Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder, sexual battery with great force, and burglary with assault. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of eight to four, and the trial court accepted the recommendation. In his successive postconviction motion to vacate his death sentence, Appellant raised claims under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The circuit court summarily denied the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Hurst and Hurst v. Florida did not apply to Appellant; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his other claims. View "Reese v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court approved the result reached by the First District Court of Appeal affirming the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ challenge to the State’s K-12 public education system based on the State’s alleged failure to comply with Fla. Const. art. IX, 1(a), holding that Coalition for Adequacy & Fairness in School Funding, Inc. v. Chiles (Coalition), 680 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 1996) defeated Petitioners’ claim. In their complaint, Petitioners sought a declaration that the State was breaching its duty to make adequate provision for an “efficient” and “high quality” system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education. Petitioners requested that the courts order the State to establish a remedial plan including studies to determine what resources are necessary to provide a high quality education to Florida students. The trial court rejected Petitioners’ challenge, and the court of appeal affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Petitioners failed to present any manageable standard by which to avoid judicial intrusion into the powers of the other branches of government, the court of appeal properly affirmed the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ blanket challenge to the adequacy of the funding of the entire K-12 education system. View "Citizens for Strong Schools, Inc. v. State Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal regarding whether proposals for settlement made pursuant to Fla. Stat. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442 must comply with the email service provisions of Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516, holding that proposals for settlement are not subject to the email service requirement of rule 2.516. The trial court in this case denied Petitioner’s motion to enforce her proposal for settlement because Petitioner’s email to Respondent containing the proposal for settlement did not strictly comply with all of the formatting requirements set forth in the rule 2.516. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) the Third District erred in finding that a proposal for settlement is subject to the requirements of rule 2.516; and (2) even if rule 2.516 applied to proposals for settlement, Petitioner’s failure to comply with the email formatting requirements set forth in the rule would not render the proposal unenforceable because the proposal complied with the substantive requirements set forth in section 768.79. View "Wheaton v. Wheaton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court approved in part and quashed in part the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in this case and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the trial court erred in denying Appellant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal as to first-degree premeditated murder and that Appellant was entitled to resentencing. A jury found Appellant guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes. The court of appeal affirmed Appellant’s convictions and sentences. The Supreme Court approved in part and quashed in part the court of appeal’s decision, holding (1) because Appellant presented a prima facie case of self-defense and the State did not refute Appellant’s claim beyond a reasonable doubt, the trial improperly denied Appellant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal as to the first-degree premeditated murder count; (2) the trial court did not err in denying the motion as to the attempted murder count; and (3) Appellant was entitled to resentencing. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on the question of whether a voluntary dismissal provides a basis for being considered the prevailing party for the purpose of appellate attorney fees, holding that the court of appeal improperly denied appellate attorney’s fees based on the bank’s voluntary dismissal of the appeal. Appellant, a homeowner, sought appellate attorney’s fees pursuant to Fla. Stat. 57.105(7) after a bank filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in the court of appeal. The court of appeal concluded that Appellant was not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees because she prevailed on her standing argument presented in the trial court. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) caselaw makes clear that a voluntary dismissal of an appeal renders the opposing party the prevailing party for the purpose of appellate attorney fees; and (2) Appellant was entitled to appellate attorney fees because the bank maintained its right to enforce the reverse mortgage contract in its appeal until the dismissal. View "Glass v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding, among other things, that Appellant’s attorney was not ineffective for failing to investigate and present certain mitigation evidence. Appellant was convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder and sentence of death. In her motion for postconviction relief Appellant raised fourteen initial claims and then amended her motion to add a Hurst claim. The trial court denied the motion in its entirety. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that trial counsel’s performance was not deficient, the State did not commit a Giglio violation, and Appellant was not entitled to a new penalty phase under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). View "Allen v. State" on Justia 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 Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The jury recommended death by a vote of seven to five. Appellant’s death sentence became final in 1993. In his postconviction motion, Appellant sought relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under Hurst. View "Thompson v. State" on Justia Law

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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