Grim v. State, SC17–1071

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation244 So.3d 147
Docket NumberNo. SC17–1071,SC17–1071
Parties Norman Mearle GRIM, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date29 March 2018

244 So.3d 147

Norman Mearle GRIM, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. SC17–1071

Supreme Court of Florida.

[March 29, 2018]


Billy H. Nolas, Chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Office of the Federal Public Defender, Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Lisa A. Hopkins, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee

PER CURIAM.

Norman Mearle Grim, a prisoner under sentence of death, appeals the circuit court's order summarily denying his first successive motion for postconviction relief, which was filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

In 2000, a jury convicted Grim of first-degree murder and sexual battery upon a person twelve years of age or older with use of a deadly weapon. After hearing evidence at the penalty phase, the jury unanimously recommended the death sentence by a vote of twelve to zero. We affirmed Grim's convictions and sentence of death on direct appeal. Grim v. State , 841 So.2d 455 (Fla. 2003). We also upheld the denial of his initial motion for postconviction relief and denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Grim v. State , 971 So.2d 85 (Fla. 2007).

In June 2016, Grim filed his current first successive postconviction motion in which he sought relief based on Hurst v. Florida (Hurst v. Florida ), ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 616, 193 L.Ed.2d 504 (2016). Grim subsequently filed a memorandum of law in which he further argued that he was entitled to relief based on this Court's decision in Hurst v. State (Hurst ), 202 So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2161, 198 L.Ed.2d 246 (2017). In May 2017, the circuit court entered

244 So.3d 148

an order summarily denying Grim's successive postconviction motion. This appeal followed. While Grim's postconviction case was pending in this Court, we directed the parties to file briefs addressing why the circuit court's order should not be affirmed based on this Court's precedent in Hurst , Davis v. State , 207 So.3d 142 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2218, 198 L.Ed.2d 663 (2017), and Mosley v. State , 209 So.3d 1248 (Fla. 2016).

In Davis , this Court held that a jury's unanimous recommendation of death is "precisely what we determined in Hurst to be constitutionally necessary to impose a sentence of death" because a "jury unanimously f[inds] all of the necessary facts for the imposition of [a] death sentence[ ] by virtue of its unanimous recommendation[ ]." Davis , 207 So.3d at 175. This Court has consistently relied on Davis to deny Hurst relief to defendants that have received a unanimous jury recommendation of death. See, e.g. , Bevel v. State , 221 So.3d 1168, 1178 (Fla. 2017) ; Guardado v. Jones , 226 So.3d 213, 215 (Fla. 2017), petition for cert. filed , No. 17–7171 (U.S. Dec. 18, 2017); Cozzie v. State , 225 So.3d 717, 733 (Fla. 2017), petition for cert. filed , No. 17–7545 (U.S. Jan. 24, 2018); Morris v. State , 219 So.3d 33, 46 (Fla.), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 452, 199 L.Ed.2d 334 (2017) ; Tundidor v. State , 221 So.3d 587, 607–08 (Fla. 2017), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 829, 200 L.Ed.2d 326 (2018) ; Oliver v. State , 214 So.3d 606, 617–18 (Fla.), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 3, 199 L.Ed.2d 272 (2017) ; Middleton v. State , 220 So.3d 1152, 1184–85 (Fla. 2017), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 829, 200 L.Ed.2d 326 (2018) ; Truehill v. State , 211 So.3d 930, 956–57 (Fla.), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 3, 199 L.Ed.2d 272 (2017). Grim is among those defendants who received a unanimous jury recommendation of death, and his arguments do not compel departing from our precedent.1

Accordingly, because we find that any Hurst error in this case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we affirm the circuit court's order summarily denying Grim's first successive motion for postconviction relief.

It is so ordered.

LABARGA, C.J., and LEWIS and LAWSON, JJ., concur.

CANADY and POLSTON, JJ., concur in result.

PARIENTE, J., dissents with an opinion, in which QUINCE, J., concurs.

PARIENTE, J., dissenting.

The majority relies on the jury's unanimous recommendation for death to determine that the Hurst2 error is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. However, for the same reasons set forth in my concurring in part, dissenting in part opinion in Kaczmar v. State , 228 So.3d 1 (Fla. 2017), petition for cert. filed , No. 17–8148 (U.S. Mar. 14, 2018), I would reverse for a new penalty phase because the jury was not presented with any evidence of the significant

244 So.3d 149

mitigation in Grim's case, which the trial judge subsequently heard, before making its recommendation. Due to the jury's critical role in capital sentencing after Hurst v. Florida , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 616, 193 L.Ed.2d 504 (2016), and Hurst , unless the defendant waives his right to a penalty phase jury, available mitigation must be presented to the jury.

FACTS

After being convicted of first-degree murder and sexual battery upon a person twelve years of age or older with the use of a deadly weapon, Grim "insisted on not presenting any mitigation" to the jury during the penalty phase. Grim v. State (Grim I ), 841 So.2d 455, 459 (Fla. 2003). Grim explained to the trial judge at the Koon3 hearing that he would rather receive the death penalty than spend the rest of his life in prison. After a penalty phase, in which the jury did not hear any evidence of mitigation, the jury unanimously recommended that Grim be sentenced to death. Id.

Despite the absence of mitigating evidence, pursuant to this Court's opinion in Muhammad v. State , 782 So.2d 343 (Fla. 2001), the trial court was obligated to determine the existence of mitigation anywhere in the record and had the discretion to appoint special counsel to present mitigation. Id. at 364–65. Accordingly, the trial court appointed special counsel to present available mitigating evidence at the Spencer4 hearing.

After the Spencer hearing, the trial court found three aggravating factors, three statutory mitigating circumstances, and five nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. Grim I , 841 So.2d at 460. The three statutory mitigating circumstances were: (1) disruptive home life and child abuse; (2) hard-working employee; and (3) mental health problems that did not reach the level of section 921.141(6)(b), Florida Statutes (1997). Id. The nonstatutory mitigating circumstances were: "(1) lack of long-term psychiatric care"; (2) "marital problems and situational stresses"; (3) "errors of judgment under stress"; (4) "model prison inmate"; and (5) "entered prison at a young age." Id.

As to statutory mental mitigation, the trial court's sentencing order explained that the evidence presented by special counsel—which included the deposition testimony of psychologist Dr. James Larson and a 1983 psychiatric evaluation by Dr. B. R. Ogburn—established the following: (1) Grim "suffers from an impulse-control disorder known as ‘intermittent explosive disorder ’ along with a depressive disorder"; (2) a diagnosis of "antisocial personality disorder"; (3) a diagnosis of "having a ‘[p]ersonality disorder, mixed type with avoidant, antisocial and passive-aggressive features’ "; and (4) at the time of the murder, Grim "was taking two medications, Prozac and Depakote, which were targeted for the intermittent explosive disorder,"...

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5 cases
  • Reynolds v. State, SC17–793
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 5 d4 Abril d4 2018
    ...collateral review."). PARIENTE, J., dissenting.For the reasons fully explained in my dissenting opinion in Grim v. State , No. SC17–1071, 244 So.3d 147, 2018 WL 1531121 (Fla. Mar. 29, 2018), because the jury did not hear any evidence of mitigation, I would conclude that this Court cannot re......
  • Everett v. State, SC17–1863
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 24 d4 Maio d4 2018
    ...5, 2018) (Pariente, J., dissenting) (explaining how Hurst could have affected defendant's decision to waive mitigation); Grim v. State , 244 So.3d 147, 148–52, 2018 WL 1531121, *2–5 (Mar. 29, 2018) (Pariente, J., dissenting) (explaining how a mitigation waiver affects the Hurst harmless err......
  • Smithers v. State, SC17–1283
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 29 d4 Março d4 2018
    ...deny Hurst relief to defendants that have received a unanimous jury recommendation of death. See, e.g. , Grim v. State , No. SC17–1071, 244 So.3d 147, 2018 WL 1531121 (slip op. issued Fla. Mar. 29, 2018) ; Bevel v. State , 221 So.3d 1168, 1178 (Fla. 2017) ; Guardado v. Jones , 226 So.3d 213......
  • Taylor v. State, SC17–1458
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 5 d4 Abril d4 2018
    ...See, e.g. , Smithers v. State , No. SC17–1283, 244 So.3d 152, 2018 WL 1531428 (Fla. Mar. 29, 2018) ; Grim v. State , No. SC17–1071, 244 So.3d 147, 2018 WL 1531121 (Fla. Mar. 29, 2018) ; Bevel v. State , 221 So.3d 1168, 1178 (Fla. 2017) ; Guardado v. Jones , 226 So.3d 213, 215 (Fla. 2017), c......
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