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: Shelton

Florida Supreme Court Delays Mandatory E-Filing, And Courts Issuing Numerous Opinions in Aftermath of Shelton and Adkins

Mandatory e-filing in Florida’s courts is being delayed.  Surprising, I know.  Check out the order here. Too bad the State of Florida can’t just buy the CM/ECF system that the Federal courts use.  Then again, that would just be too easy.

As I reviewed the websites for Florida’s District Courts of Appeal this week, I noticed that a good number of opinions are being issued in the wake of State v. Adkins, 37 Fla. L. Weekly S449 (Fla. July 12, 2012).  For example, the Fourth DCA issued a slew of opinions denying Rule 3.850 motions for post-conviction relief, while the First and Second DCA reversed several cases which had been dismissed based on Shelton v. Secretary, Department of Corrections, 802 F. Supp. 2d 1289 (M.D. Fla. 2011).  Note: in Shelton v. Secretary, Dept. of Corrections, No. 11-13515, 2012 WL 3641008 (11th Cir. Aug. 24, 2012), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the District Court’s grant of federal habeas relief.  You can read my previous post on the Eleventh Circuit opinion here.

For those criminal defense and criminal appeals attorneys who are monitoring the Padilla retroactivity issue, in Litchmore v. State, No. 2D12-800, the Second DCA certified a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court as to the retroactivity of Padilla v. Kentucky, — U.S. —, 130 S. Ct. 1473, 176 L. Ed. 2d 284 (2010), in post-conviction proceedings.  The issue remains pending in the Florida Supreme Court.  You can search the docket for State v. Hernandez, No. SC11-1357, by clicking here.

Shelton v. Sec’y, Dept. of Corrections, No. 11-13515: What Next?

In my last post, I discussed the Eleventh Circuit’s reversal of the District Court’s grant of habeas relief in Shelton v. Sec’y, Dept. of Corrections, No. 11-13515, and how the Court managed to avoid directly addressing the constitutionality issue.  Well, for those of you who are thinking that the next step will be filing a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, you may want to read this article that I read this morning.  It certainly gives you a lot to think about . . .

Shelton v. Sec’y, Dept. of Corrections, No. 11-13515: District Court’s Grant of Habeas Relief REVERSED

A few days ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit finally issued its opinion in the matter of Shelton v. Sec’y, Dept. of Corrections, No. 11-13515.  Not surprisingly, the Court reversed the District Court’s grant of habeas relief.  Also not surprisingly, the Court avoided the largest issue in the case: the constitutionality of Florida statute section 893.101.

If you read the opinion, you’ll see that the Court avoided having to decide the merits of the constitutionality issue because it resolved the appeal on procedural grounds.  By determining that the District Court failed to apply the proper deferential standard of review to the Florida appellate court’s decision under the AEDPA, the Court did not even have to reach the issue that everyone wanted decided.  This should come as no surprise to criminal defense and criminal appellate lawyers who are familiar with Federal habeas petitions.

Although the Court declined to completely address the merits of the constitutionality issue, the Court nevertheless threw out a few observations.  First, rather than finding that section 893.101 completely eliminated the mens rea element, the Court instead found that the statute only partially eliminated it by converting one aspect of mens rea to an affirmative defense.  Second, the Court noted that the United States Supreme Court has never held that the Due Process Clause forbids a partial elimination of mens rea as an element of crimes similar to Florida’s section 893.101.

Since the appeal was decided on such narrow procedural grounds, it may be difficult to appeal this to the United States Supreme Court.   We’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, Shelton’s team decides to do next.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!

Update on Shelton issue: Florida Supreme Court Moves up Oral Argument in State v. Luke Jarrod Adkins et al., SC11-1878

In a recent post, I mentioned that the Florida Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction over the case of State v. Luke Jarrod Adkins et al., SC11-1878, to decide the constitutionality of Florida’s drug statute, section 893.13.  Although oral argument had originally been set for December 8, 2011, the docket shows that oral argument has been moved up to December 6, 2011.  The first briefs were due in the Court on November 2, 2011, but do not yet appear in the docket.

Challenges to Florida’s Drug Statute, Section 893.13, Being Used to Preserve Right to Appeal in Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties

In a recent post, I noted that Miami Dade Circuit Judge Hirsch has dismissed charges against approximately 30 defendants in drug cases, opting to follow an opinion issued by a Federal Judge in the Shelton case.  You may recall that in Shelton, the Court ruled that Florida’s drug possession statute, section 893.13, is unconstitutional because it does not require the State to prove that a defendant actually knew that he, or she, possessed drugs.

Well, it seems that motions to dismiss drug charges are now being filed in Florida’s Treasure Coast counties of Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin.  The first challenge is set to be heard by Judge Robert Pegg at 3 pm on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, in the case of Donald Hart, Jr.  Although an Assistant State Attorney commented in one report that he expects the motion to be denied because of a previous opinion issued by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2005, the fact that the motion to dismiss is being filed is still important for purposes of appeal.  Even if the likelihood of winning a motion to dismiss seems low, criminal defense attorneys know that it is important to preserve any argument as to the constitutionality of section 893.13 now, as the Shelton case winds its way upward through the courts.


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