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

Tag: appeals

More Graham Fallout- Juvenile Charged With Attempted Murder Entitled To Bond

Florida’s criminal appeals and criminal defense attorneys who represent juvenile offenders should be aware of an opinion released by the Florida Supreme Court on October 10, 2013.  In Treacy v. Lamberti, SC12-647, the court reversed the 4th DCA’s denial of Treacy’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.  In his petition, Treacy argued that since he could not be punished to life imprisonment for the offense charged, attempted murder, in light of Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), he was entitled to bond.   The 4th DCA rejected his contentions not once, but twice.  Only on appeal to the Florida Supreme Court did Treacy finally win the relief he sought- the right to be entitled to bond.   This is a fairly straightforward opinion, so there’s not much for me to do other than pass it along, and urge you to keep this opinion handy for future reference.

E-Filing in Florida’s Appellate Courts: A Work in Progress

Can you guess which of Florida’s appellate courts is not like the others?  If you handle criminal appeals on a regular basis, then you know that four out of five of Florida’s District Courts of Appeal are on eDCA, the electronic filing system begun by the 1st DCA a while ago: the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth DCA.  But one of them stands alone: the Second DCA.   While the other DCA’s opted to follow the course of the First DCA, and begin their foray into e-filing on eDCA, the Second is the only DCA to skip eDCA, and commence its foray into e-filing by jumping directly onto Florida’s Statewide e-filing Portal.  (the Florida Supreme Court did this as well a few months ago).  Today marked the first day of voluntary filing with the 2nd DCA through the Portal.

Have any of you tried filing with the 2d DCA through the Portal?  I did.  It leaves a lot to be desired.  Don’t get me wrong, e-filing definitely beats having to send  your briefs, motions, and responses via FedEx, followed by a courtesy copy by e-mail, but for some reason, the Portal does not seem to provide access to the court docket.  To see the appellate docket, you still need to go to the “online dockets” link from the Portal website, or at any of the DCA webpages, and those dockets are not real-time.  So in other words, you can submit something electronically, but it still won’t show up on the docket for several days.  The other thing I don’t like is that when you’re filing through the Portal, you don’t get a time-stamped copy to reflect the time and date of your e-filing.  Similar to the Federal CM/ECF system, the e-DCA system provides both of those functions.

If you are lucky enough to be in Federal court, then you get the ease of working with CM/ECF.  In my view, CM/ECF is the best e-filing system there is because you get a real-time docket, time/date stamps on your e-filed pleadings, electronic confirmation of your successful filing, and automatic e-service of your pleadings on the other parties in the case (except pro se parties).  E-DCA is a close second.  Although e-DCA lacks electronic service, e-DCA at least provides you an e-mail alert that a pleading or order was filed in the case, and a link to view the document.  Plus, e-DCA provides you with a real-time docket, time/date stamps on your e-filed pleadings, and electronic confirmation of your successful filing.

E-filing in Florida’s State courts is a work in progress.  In the coming months, the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth DCA will all have to make the transition to the Statewide Portal, as will the rest of Florida’s trial courts.   Hopefully, the Portal we have today is a work in progress, too.

Dinkines v. State, No. 4D12-1845: Good Example of Preserving Objections For Appeal

The Florida Supreme Court is in recess until August 29, 2013, but I came across a good opinion issued by the Fourth DCA that I wanted to pass along because it provides a good example of preserving objections for purposes of appeal.  If you’re an attorney that handles appeals, criminal or civil, then you know that preservation of issues for appeal can sometimes be crucial.  For those of you who don’t handle appeals, preservation basically comes down to this: if you want to make an argument on appeal, you must have first objected and/or made that same argument to the trial court.  If you haven’t objected, or if you haven’t presented that argument to the trial court, then the appellate court may decline to entertain that argument on appeal.

In Dinkines v. State, 4D12-1845, a case which originated in Broward County, Dinkines was charged with dealing in stolen property and false verification of ownership or false identification given to a pawnbroker.  After a jury trial, Dinkines was convicted of the false verification of ownership, but was acquitted of dealing in stolen property.  Even though Dinkines scored any non-state prison sanction, the trial court sentenced Dinkines to three years in Florida State Prison.

According to the opinion, at the sentencing hearing, defense counsel did everything he or she could have to preserve the issue for appeal: (1) counsel filed a rule 3.800(b)(1) motion to correct sentencing error; and, (2) at the hearing on the motion to correct, counsel argued that the trial court erred by basing its sentence on argument of the prosecutor at the sentencing hearing, rather than on evidence or testimony.  Even after the trial court remained steadfast in his opinion, defense counsel continued to press the court, arguing that Dinkines had been acquitted of dealing in stolen property, that she was only convicted of the false verification charge, and that Dinkines had not been charged with burglary or any other crime.  Unfortunately for Dinkines, the trial court was unpersuaded by defense counsel’s argument, and entered a written order containing findings of fact in support of the 3 year prison sentence.

On appeal, the Fourth DCA agreed with the arguments of Dinkines’ counsel, and reversed.  Apart from the preservation aspect of the opinion, you might want to take a few minutes to read the Fourth DCA opinion because the Court took the time to pinpoint several problematic aspects of the trial court’s sentencing considerations, including the fact that the court referred to Dinkines as a “thief,” criticized her for failing to demonstrate remorse, and sentenced her based on argument of the prosecutor which was not substantiated by the trial.  Let’s hope that when the trial court resentences Dinkines on remand, that the court does so based on the evidence contained in the record, not on his personal opinions.

Florida Supreme Court Holds that Public Defender May Decline Future Appointments Based On Office Wide Problems Which Impact Effective Representation

The Florida Supreme Court issued a pretty interesting opinion right before the Memorial Day weekend–Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida v. State, No. SC09-1181.  I remember reading news reports about this case back in 2008 or 2009, and it seemed like a pretty big deal that the Public Defender for Miami Dade County was actually so overloaded that the entire office was filing motions in numerous non-capital felony criminal cases seeking to decline future appointments, arguing that excessive caseloads prevented the office from providing effective representation.  Well, although the opinion left the most interesting matter unresolved (i.e., the question of whether to grant or deny the PD’s motion), the Court did nevertheless hold that the Public Defender could file such aggregate motions where there is an office-wide problem as to effective representation, and that motions to withdraw could be granted pursuant to Florida section 27.5303 so long as the PD shows that there is a substantial risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by representation to another client.  See Public Defender, slip op., pgs. 25-35.  However, because the case had been pending in the Supreme Court so long, the Court remanded the matter back to the trial court for a determination of whether the conditions underlying the PD’s motions to decline future appointments still exist.

What is the impact of this case?  Well, if the trial court determines that the conditions at the Miami Dade Public Defender’s office are unchanged, and that the Public Defender’s motions should be granted, then that means the cases will have to be handled by other court-appointed counsel.  In other words, more work (and fees) for other court-appointed criminal defense attorneys!  Now, if we could just get the Florida Legislature to repeal the fee caps imposed last year for criminal defense and criminal appeals lawyers . . .

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!

After Winning a New Trial, Goodman Loses a Lawyer, and Death Row Inmate William Van Poyck Wins A Team of Lawyers

Well, after winning a new trial (while the case is on appeal, no less) John Goodman lost a key member of his criminal defense team, Robert Black.  For the articles in the Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel, click here and here.  Maybe this means that Goodman and the State have reached a plea agreement?

Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post also reports that there’s quite a bit of legal havoc in the William Van Poyck death penalty case.  Although I have not yet been able to locate the order issued by the Florida Supreme Court, the Court has apparently pulled a surprise move.  Even as Van Poyck’s June execution date approaches, the Court appears to have appointed a team of lawyers from Palm Beach County to represent Van Poyck.  For the article in the Palm Beach Post, click here.

To me, the Van Poyck case highlights just a fraction of what is wrong with Florida’s death penalty.  If the case is still important enough for the court to appoint new lawyers, even at this late stage, why should the Governor be signing the warrant for Van Poyck’s execution?  And why is it that after years of being unable to reach any sort of agreement with regard to amending the death penalty statute so as to render it constitutional, (why bother with that?), the Florida legislature is able to enact legislation that limits the appeals process, thereby actually speeding up the death penalty executions?

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