Chandler v. Crosby

Decision Date09 December 2005
Docket NumberNo. SC04-518.,SC04-518.
Citation916 So.2d 728
PartiesJim Eric CHANDLER, Petitioner, v. James V. CROSBY, Jr., etc., Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Neal Andre Dupree, Collateral Regional Counsel-South and Martin J. McClain, Special Assistant, CCRC-South, Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Petitioner.

Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL and Celia A. Terenzio, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, FL, for Respondent.


Jim Eric Chandler petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(9), Fla. Const.

Chandler was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to death. After this Court ordered resentencing, the trial court reimposed the death sentences and we affirmed. Chandler v. State, 534 So.2d 701 (Fla.1988). The facts and procedural history of this case are set out fully in this Court's prior opinions. See id.; Chandler v. State, 442 So.2d 171, 175 (Fla.1983) (affirming convictions; remanding for resentencing because of trial court error in excusing two prospective jurors for cause); Chandler v. State, 634 So.2d 1066 (Fla.1994) (affirming trial court's denial of postconviction relief and denying relief on eleven habeas issues).

Chandler now petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), compels the reversal of his convictions and sentences. In Crawford, the Supreme Court held that a testimonial hearsay statement is inadmissible at trial unless the declarant is shown to be unavailable and the party against whom the statement is admitted had an opportunity for cross-examination. Id. at 68, 124 S.Ct. 1354. Because we find that Crawford does not apply retroactively, we deny the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In deciding whether a new rule should apply retroactively, this Court balances two important considerations: (1) the finality of decisions; and (2) the fairness and uniformity of the court system. Witt v. State, 387 So.2d 922, 925 (Fla.1980). In Witt, we stated that a new rule of law will not apply retroactively unless the new rule "(a) emanates from this Court or the United States Supreme Court, (b) is constitutional in nature, and (c) constitutes a development of fundamental significance." Id. at 931. The rule in Crawford meets the first two Witt factors, as it was a decision of the United States Supreme Court concerning the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause.

Under Witt, a decision is of fundamental significance when it either places "beyond the authority of the state the power to regulate certain conduct or impose certain penalties" or when the rule is "of sufficient magnitude to necessitate retroactive application as ascertained by the three-fold test of Stovall [v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967),] and Linkletter [v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 85 S.Ct. 1731, 14 L.Ed.2d 601 (1965)]." Witt, 387 So.2d at 929. The Crawford rule did not change the power of the State to regulate certain conduct or impose certain penalties; rather, it is a procedural rule that controls the admissibility of testimonial hearsay. Thus, the Crawford rule can only apply retroactively under Florida law if retroactive application is deemed necessary after assessing the Stovall and Linkletter factors, which are "(a) the purpose to be served by the new rule; (b) the extent of reliance on the old rule; and (c) the effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the new rule." Id. at 926.

The first factor weighs against retroactivity. Crawford overruled the decision in Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 100 S.Ct. 2531, 65 L.Ed.2d 597 (1980). Crawford, 541 U.S. at 68, 124 S.Ct. 1354. Roberts permitted courts to admit testimonial hearsay, provided the statements bore "adequate `indicia of reliability.'" 448 U.S. at 66, 100 S.Ct. 2531. In overruling Roberts, the United States Supreme Court considered the history of the confrontation clause and concluded that testimonial hearsay could only be admitted, in accordance with the intentions of the framers of the Sixth Amendment, upon a demonstration that the declarant is unavailable and that a defendant had a prior opportunity for cross-examination. Id. at 68, 124 S.Ct. 1354. This rationale for the new rule weighs against its retroactive application because the rule's purpose is not to improve the accuracy of trials or even to improve the reliability of evidence. The Supreme Court noted that the confrontation clause does not require that evidence be reliable "but that reliability be assessed in a particular manner." Crawford, 541 U.S. at 61, 124 S.Ct. 1354; see Windom v. State, 886 So.2d 915, 951 (Fla.2004) (Cantero, J., specially concurring) (citing Allen v. Hardy, 478 U.S. 255, 106 S.Ct. 2878, 92 L.Ed.2d 199 (1986), for proposition that retroactive application is appropriate if new rule is designed to enhance accuracy of criminal trials).

The second factor also weighs against retroactive application. The rule in Roberts was relied on by trial courts for over twenty years. Cf. State v. Callaway, 658 So.2d 983, 987 (Fla.1995) (fact that old rule existed for short time weighed in favor of retroactive application). The Roberts reliability factors were the only method of admission for testimonial hearsay statements; thus, much testimony was likely admitted under them. See, e.g., State v. Abreu, 837 So.2d 400, 402 (Fla.2003); Farina v. State, 679 So.2d 1151, 1157 (Fla.1996), receded from by Franqui v. State, 699 So.2d 1312, 1320 (Fla.1997); Perez v. State, 536 So.2d 206, 209 (Fla.1988); Glendening v. State, 536 So.2d 212, 217 (Fla.1988). Indeed, "Crawford has changed confrontation analysis enormously. Its concrete impact was immediate and substantial in both appellate and trial courts on the evidence rendered inadmissible." Robert P. Mosteller, Crawford v. Washington: Encouraging and Ensuring the Confrontation of Witnesses, 39 U. Rich. L.Rev. 511, 512 (2005). Thus, since much testimonial hearsay was admitted under the old rule, retroactive application is not required.

Finally, the third factor weighs against retroactivity. Given the extent of reliance on Roberts, if Crawford applied retroactively, the administration of justice would be greatly affected. Retroactive application could require courts to "overturn convictions" and "delve into stale records to" determine whether defendants had a chance to cross-examine unavailable witnesses. Callaway, 658 So.2d at 987. When new trials were determined necessary to correct errors under Crawford, the justice system would then have to deal with a multitude of problems, including lost evidence and unavailable witnesses. See Windom, 886 So.2d at 952 (Cantero, J., concurring) (noting similar problems would arise should Ring apply retroactively). Such retroactive application would "destroy the stability of the law, render punishments uncertain and therefore ineffectual, and burden the judicial machinery of our state, fiscally and intellectually, beyond any tolerable limit." Witt, 387 So.2d at 929-30.

Thus, all three factors in the Witt analysis weigh against the retroactive application of Crawford. The new rule does not present a more compelling objective that outweighs the importance of finality. State v. Glenn, 558 So.2d 4, 7 (Fla.1990). Chandler's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is therefore denied.

It is so ordered.


WELLS, J., specially concurs with an opinion, in which CANTERO and BELL, JJ., concur.

ANSTEAD, J., specially concurs with an opinion, in which PARIENTE, C.J., concurs.

LEWIS, J., concurs in result only.

WELLS, J., concurring specially.

I concur in the majority's decision that Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), does not apply retroactively and to deny the petition.

I write to express my view that this Court should apply Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851 as written and hold that the Crawford decision does not provide a viable basis for a successive rule 3.851 motion. The rule provides:

(d) Time Limitation.

. . . .

(2) No motion shall be filed or considered pursuant to this rule if filed beyond the time limitation provided in subdivision (d)(1) unless it alleges that

. . . .

(B) the fundamental constitutional right asserted was not established within the period provided for in subdivision (d)(1) and has been held to apply retroactively. . . .

(Emphasis added.) The time limitation of subdivision (d)(1) is "within one year after the judgment and sentence become final." "Final" is defined in subdivisions (d)(1)(A) and (B).1

Plainly, the components of the rule indicate that no rule 3.851 motion shall be filed or considered beyond one year after the judgment and sentence become final unless (1) there is a fundamental constitutional right asserted; (2) the constitutional right asserted was not established within one year of when the judgment and sentence became final; and (3) the fundamental constitutional right asserted that was not established within the one-year period has been held to apply retroactively. Based upon these components of the rule, a motion not filed within the one-year time requirement—an untimely motion—must assert that a new constitutional right "has been held to apply retroactively" in a case decided before the motion was filed in order for the motion to be "filed and considered."

This Court has not dealt with this language in any of the cases recently filed in this Court asserting claims based upon Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556 (2002). Rather, this Court has proceeded to a consideration of Ring claims on other bases and has simply failed to recognize that the rule requires that untimely postconviction...

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