Florida Supreme Court Roundup: A Look at Lockhart v. Crews and Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor

February 3, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

The Florida Supreme Court has had a busy start to 2014. Today, we'll analyze two recent Florida criminal cases that came before the Court in January: Lockhart v. Crews and Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor.

In Lockhart, the defendant had been sentenced to a 30 year jail sentence, after a lower court convicted him of robbery. The petitioner appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the guilty judgment; he then filed several additional post-conviction claims. [By “several,” we mean more than two dozen!] His twenty seventh petition for review had to do with a writ of habeas corpus issue. The lower court dismissed this petition – citing the case of Baker v. State – and also put him in a tough corner. Frustrated with his abuse of the system, the court ordered Lockhart to show why he should not be barred from making additional “pro se” filings regarding this case. Instead of filing a response, he submitted handwritten “motions,” which he had used (unsuccessfully) during previous appeals. The Supreme Court wrote: "After considering Lockhart’s response, we conclude that it fails to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed. We further conclude that Lockhart’s procedurally barred petition filed in this case is a frivolous proceeding brought before this Court by a state prisoner."

Here's the big lesson to be learned: you absolutely should pursue an aggressive, even dogged, defense against your Florida criminal charges… but you need to do so intelligently and strategically. If you waste the Court’s time or challenge a charge or conviction based on dubious logic or a lazy reading of the law, you may not like the results, and the court can even penalize you.

The Supreme Court also took up the case of Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor in January. In that case, a man violated the conditional release of his parole, prompting his Parole Examiner to recommend that respondent be put back on regular supervision. The Florida Parole Commission (FPC) felt that this suggestion was too lenient and chose to revoke the respondent’s conditional release. During subsequent legal wrangling, the respondent argued that the FPC did not adhere to Florida’s Administrative Procedure Act, when it failed to follow the recommendation of the Parole examiner. The District Court allowed the petition, but the Supreme Court said, effectively, "not so fast." The First District Court should not have granted certiorari because the Circuit Court's original decision did not cause a miscarriage of justice.

Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor demonstrates nicely how complex Florida criminal cases can get. Consider all the stakeholders and decision makers involved, which included: the respondent, the Parole Examiner, the FPC, the Circuit Court, the District Court and the Supreme Court.

To protect your rights, connect with a Florida criminal defense attorney here at Seltzer Law, P.A., at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333), or email us to schedule your consultation now. We are available 24/7 to discuss your matter.