Florida Criminal Appeals Attorney Law

Appellate Law, Criminal Defense and Appeals and Post Conviction Relief in Florida Courts, Federal District Courts and the 11th Circuit

Month: June, 2012

Judge Robin Rosenbaum, the Newest District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida

You might recall that I previously noted that our own Judge Robin Rosenbaum had been nominated by President Obama to serve as a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida.  Well, I am happy to report that Judge Rosenbaum was overwhelmingly confirmed by the US Senate today.  You can read a couple of reports here and here.  I am sure that many of my fellow South Florida attorneys, criminal and civil alike, wish her the best of luck. Now we will just have to wait and see who will apply to fill her vacant Magistrate Judge spot.

Florida Supreme Court Sua Sponte Issues Corrected Order On E-Mail Service Requirements For Some Trial Court Divisions, and All Appellate Cases: Rule Change Now Effective September 1, 2012

If you are a Florida attorney, you should be aware that today, the Florida Supreme Court sua sponte issued a corrected Order governing e-mail service.  Pursuant to the Sua Sponte Order, the Court changed the mandatory date for e-mail service in the civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial courts, as well as in all appellate cases, from July 1, 2012, to September 1, 2012.  To read the collection of orders, click here, here, and here.

South Florida Fugitive Martin James Malone Turns Over New Leaf While on the Run, and US Supreme Court Holds that Sentence of Mandatory Life Without Parole for Juveniles Violates the Eighth Amendment

The Sun Sentinel ran a good story today that I wanted to pass along to other criminal defense and criminal appellate lawyers in South Florida.  Martin James Malone fled to Ecuador before a jury convicted him of federal drug charges in 1990.  According to the story, Malone made good use of his time while on the lam, acting as a “medicine, man” contractor, and overall good samaritan.  His story is a great example of how people can make a change for the better after getting into trouble.  Since even the prosecutor reportedly noted that Malone played a very small role in the 1989 cocaine-importing conspiracy, let’s hope that Judge Zloch’s sentencing will be fair.

Also today, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Miller v. Alabama, No. 10-9646, where it held that “mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.’” In its rationale, the Court relied heavily on two other juvenile cases, one of which hits close to home for Florida’s criminal defense lawyers: Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, 560, (2005) (invalidating death penalty for all juvenile offenders under 18), and Graham v. Florida, 560 U. S. –, (2010) (holding that life without parole violates the Eighth Amendment when imposed on juvenile nonhomicide offenders).  As you’re reading the majority opinion, be sure not to skip the footnotes, as several point out the flaws in the dissenter’s analysis.  I especially like footnotes 6, 8, and 10.

Like it or Not, the Time for Mandatory E-Service and Mandatory E-Filing in Florida’s Courts is Fast Approaching

It’s not exactly CM/ECF yet, but it’s great to see that the Florida Supreme Court has finally issued two new Administrative Orders implementing e-filing on a rolling basis, and requiring mandatory e-service.

Administrative Order number SC11-399 provides that e-filing will become effective and mandatory in the civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial courts, as well as for appeals to the circuit courts in these categories of cases, on April 1, 2013, at 12:01 a.m.  Next, e-filing will become effective and mandatory for criminal, traffic, and juvenile courts, as well as as for appeals to the circuit court in these categories of cases, on October 1, 2013, at 12:01 a.m.  Finally, for appeals to the District Courts of Appeal and Florida Supreme Court, e-filing will become effective and mandatory on October 1, 2012, at 12:01 a.m.  However, the trial court clerks will not be required to electronically transmit the record on appeal until January 1, 2013, at 12:01 a.m.  Self-represented parties and self-represented nonparties can be excused from the requirements of the Rule.

Administrative Order number SC10-2101 provides, generally, that all documents required or permitted to be served on another party must be served by e-mail.  There are exceptions to the Rule for attorneys who demonstrate that he or she has no e-mail account and lacks access to the Internet at the lawyer’s office.  The new rule takes effect on July 1, 2012.

Supreme Court Smackdown and Eleventh Circuit Fun

Since I’ve not had the chance to read through many Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit opinions lately, I thought I’d try to catch up.  A word of caution: if you are a South Florida criminal defense or criminal appeals lawyer needing some good news, you won’t find it here.

The Eleventh Circuit has been busy handing down opinions at a pretty good clip.  In Booker v. Secretary, Florida Dept. of Corrections, No. 10-14966, the Court affirmed the denial of a 2254 petition for habeas relief.  In so doing, the Court held that the state trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on Booker’s eligibility for parole was neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of, Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994).  In Trepal v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, No. 10-15306, the Court affirmed another denial of a 2254 petition for habeas.  Although the opinion is quite long-72 pages-it’s a good one to read if you have some spare time.  In addition to the discussion of the standards of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972) and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the opinion might also make you think twice about what can happen if you’re not nice to your neighbors.  In a case that originates from the Southern District of Florida, United States v. Welch, No. 10-14649, the Court examined the voluntariness of a consent to a search, the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, and whether a Florida conviction for robbery is a “violent felony” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act.  (Hint: the consent was voluntarily given, there was no fruit of the poisonous tree, and the Florida conviction for robbery qualifies as a “violent felony.”)  My favorite part of the opinion?  Footnote 20.

Finally, in Parker v. Matthews, No. 11-845, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion that reads like a smackdown of the 6th Circuit.  A mere 13 pages long, the pointed tone with which the opinion is written leaves no doubt about how wrong the Sixth Circuit’s decision was.

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