674 So.2d 889 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1996), 94-1308, Leichtman v. Singletary

CourtFlorida Court of Appeals. Fourth District
Writing for the CourtThe opinion of the court was delivered by: Shahood, Judge
Citation21 Fla. L. Weekly D 1268,674 So.2d 889
PartiesRichard LEICHTMAN, Appellant, v. Harry SINGLETARY, Secretary, Florida Department of Correction, Appellee.
Date29 May 1996
Docket Number94-1308.

Page 889

674 So.2d 889 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1996)

21 Fla. L. Weekly D 1268

Richard LEICHTMAN, Appellant,


Harry SINGLETARY, Secretary, Florida Department of Correction, Appellee.

No. 94-1308.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District.

May 29, 1996

Page 890

Richard Leichtman, Indiantown, pro se.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and William A. Spillias, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.


Appellant Richard Leichtman files a pro se appeal from an order denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus entered by the Circuit Court of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Martin county (Martin county) on April 25, 1994. Appellant attacks the voluntariness of his plea as well as the legality of one of his sentences from his conviction in 1972 on four counts of sexual battery in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Dade County (Dade county) on June 26, 1972. As appellant collaterally attacks his Dade county judgment and sentence, we declare that Martin county lacked jurisdiction to hear appellant's petition. Accordingly, we vacate the Martin county order denying appellant's petition for writ of habeas corpus and dismiss his appeal without prejudice to appellant to seek other relief in the appropriate judicial circuit.

From the limited record that we have before us it appears that appellant's trial on four counts of sexual battery began on or about June 26, 1972. Shortly after the commencement of a jury trial, appellant entered a plea of guilty to all four counts. At the

Page 891

adjudication proceeding, appellant was sentenced on one count to "life in a mental institution" and to life in prison on the remaining three counts.

On appeal, appellant contends that the sentence to "life in a mental institution" is an illegal sentence based upon Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 92 S.Ct. 1845, 32 L.Ed.2d 435 (1972), decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1972. In Jackson, the Supreme Court held that the indefinite pretrial commitment of a defendant solely on account of his incompetency to stand trial is violative of the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. Id.

It has been held that appellate review is always available where a court has imposed an illegal sentence, even if the judgment and sentence have resulted from a guilty plea. See Robbins v. State, 413 So.2d 840, 841 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982) (citing Bridges v. State, 376 So.2d 233 (Fla.1979)); see also Chikitus v. Shands, 373 So.2d 904 (Fla.1979); Williams v. State, 280 So.2d 518 (Fla. 3d DCA 1973).

Based on the foregoing and principally based on Jackson, appellant collaterally attacks the voluntariness of plea. However, he does so by seeking relief by a petition for writ of habeas corpus in Martin county, the county of his incarceration, rather than in Dade county, the county in which his plea was accepted. As to this issue, Martin county was without jurisdiction to hear his petition.

The circuit court of the county in which a defendant is incarcerated may, issue a writ to inquire into the cause of detention of a petitioner, and may discharge the person held in custody if it is shown that his retention is without jurisdiction or that the order under which he is held is void. See Janes v. Heidtman, 272 So.2d 207, 208 (Fla. 4th DCA 1973). As explained by the second district in State v. Broom, 523 So.2d 639, 641 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988), appeal dismissed, 545 So.2d 1366 (Fla.1989), a circuit court has no jurisdiction to review the legality of a conviction in another circuit and to order a new trial, and a habeas may...

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