Florida Weekly Appellate Review

Florida Appellate Law Review: August 4 – 8 Edition.

Florida Supreme Court: 

No opinions this week.

First DCA:

Laser Spine Institute v. Greer & Doucette:

This appeal came out of a trial court’s order denying Laser Spine Institute’s motion for protective order and requiring it to produce its billing and collection documents in a personal injury case between Greer (defendant) and Doucette (plaintiff). The appellate court held that the trial court erred in requiring the production of the documents without making an explicit finding that Greer’s reasonable necessity for the documents outweighed Laser Spine’s interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its trade secrets.

Note: This case is an example of liability insurance companies trying to discover and present evidence of medical providers reducing the amount of their bills, because that would mean the liability insurer would ultimately pay less than the billed amount if their insured was found to be at fault.

Reed v. State of Florida:

Appellate court held that Reed could not be held under the Jimmy Ryce Act because when the commitment process was initiated, Reed was not in “lawful custody” as required by the Act. On May 23, 2-13 Reed pled guilty to multiple felonies and was sentenced to a negotiated term of 481 days, with credit for 481 days time served. That day he was returned to the Duval County Jail to be processed out. The next day, while Reed was still in custody but was scheduled to be released in the afternoon, the Department of Children and Families notified the Department of Corrections that he was a potential Jimmy Ryce Act offender. He was then released from the jail and then transported to the civil commitment facility. Because DCF initiated the initial steps for involuntary commitment after Reed was scheduled to be released, he could not be committed under the act.

Second DCA:

Hodge v. State of Florida:

Hodge agreed to a plea deal regarding seven cases in which he would plead no contest in exchange for the prosecution not seeking certain sentencing enhancements. During the plea hearing the judge held a plea colloquy for six of the seven cases, but sentenced Hodge for all seven. Because no plea colloquy was held for the seventh case, the appellate court reversed and remanded the case for the proper procedure to be done.

Third DCA:

Saint-Hilaire v. State of Florida:

Appellate court held that a warrantless search of the defendant’s cell phone during a search incident to arrest was illegal, and suppressed the evidence (names and social security numbers) found on the phone. We provided a separate post discussing the implications of this opinion here.

Fourth DCA:

D.J.D. v. State of Florida:

Appellate court held that a police officer was not “engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties” when the officer was detaining and then arresting a juvenile who was not the subject of an investigation. The charge against the juvenile should have been reduced from assault on a law enforcement officer to simple assault.

Williams v. State of Florida:

Trial court erred in excluding a defense exculpatory witness without considering alternatives to to excluding the witness from testifying. When a discovery violation happens, such as late notice of an exculpatory witness, the trial court must conduct a hearing to determine if the violation was willful or inadvertent, was substantial or trivial, and whether it had a prejudicial effect on the aggrieved party’s trial preparation. Also, the court must consider whether an alternative to outright exclusion exists.

Swatts v. State of Florida:

The defendant was charged by information with burglary, but at trial the state offered multiple factual theories of the crime – including a second crime that was not charged. The jury convicted the defendant of the lesser included offense of trespass, but it was unclear whether that conviction resulted from the facts of the crime charged in the information or the second crime.

Hutz v. State of Florida:

The appellate court ruled that the police officer had reasonable suspicion that a crime had occurred sufficient to justify an investigatory stop of the defendant at a casino after a casino guard saw the defendant snorting what he thought to be cocaine in the bathroom.

Napoles v. State of Florida:

Appellate court granted a petition for ineffective assistance of counsel during sentencing where the defendant’s attorney did not appeal the trial court’s incorrect determination that the defendant was not eligible for a downward departure in sentencing because the defendant did not prove she could obtain the necessary mental health treatment in prison.

Fifth DCA:

Davis v. State of Florida:

The trial court erred in telling the defendant that if he went to trial he would probably be sentenced consecutively on his two charges, and then after trial sentencing him consecutively saying “you wanted a trial.” The appellate court found the sentence to be vindictive.