Hastings v. State, 5D22-0076

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSASSO, J.
Decision Date18 March 2022
PartiesCHERI L. HASTINGS, Petitioner, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondent.
Docket Number5D22-0076

CHERI L. HASTINGS, Petitioner,


No. 5D22-0076

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

March 18, 2022

Petition for Belated Appeal, A Case of Original Jurisdiction, Nos. 2020-CF-314-AXMX 2020-CF-313-AXMX 2020-CF-316-AXMX 2020-CF-315-AXMX 2019-CF-2037-AXMX

Cheri L. Hastings, Ocala, pro se.

Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Rebecca Rock McGuigan, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.




Hastings seeks a belated appeal of her judgments and sentences in Hernando County Circuit Court case numbers 2020-CF-313, 2020-CF-314, 2020-CF-315, 2020-CF-316, and 2019-CF-2037. Concluding both that the petition is legally sufficient and the State's response raises a factual dispute, we appoint a commissioner to resolve the factual dispute.

In her sworn petition, Petitioner stated that she timely instructed her trial counsel to file a notice of appeal on the day of sentencing, but her trial counsel failed to do so. In response, the State represents that it contacted Petitioner's trial counsel who indicated he recalled the date of sentencing, recalled that Petitioner was unhappy with the sentence she received, but did "not recall [Petitioner] asking him to file a notice of appeal." Instead, counsel recalled a discussion regarding a motion to mitigate her sentence under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(c). Based on these statements from Petitioner's counsel, the State requests this Court appoint a commissioner to conduct an evidentiary hearing.

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.141(c) sets the requirements for belated appellate review in non-capital cases. If a petitioner presents a facially sufficient petition consistent with the rule's requirements, this Court has stated that the burden shifts to the State to specifically dispute the


petitioner's allegations. See generally Denson v. State, 710 So.2d 144 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998). If the State raises a good faith basis to dispute the petitioner's claims through affidavit or specific contrary allegations, the appellate court may order an evidentiary hearing in the trial court to determine the limited disputed issues of fact. See, e.g., State v. Trowell, 739 So.2d 77, 81 (Fla. 1999).

Here, the State's response is sufficient to raise a good faith dispute. We concede that counsel's representation in this case falls short of the affirmative statement in Schubert v. State, 737 So.2d 1102, 1103 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998). However, we do not believe the State's response needs to be so conclusive to demonstrate a good faith dispute. Indeed, given the passage of time and other circumstances, counsel might be understandably hesitant to make such a categorical statement.

In this case, the State's response sets forth sufficient context to indicate that counsel does have a recollection of the case and relevant time period, such that counsel would have recalled a request from Petitioner to appeal. As a result, this case is not like Walker v. State, 742 So.2d 342, 343 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999), where counsel "had no independent recollection one way or the other." This case is likewise distinguishable from Kelly v. State, 65 So.3d 1068, 1068 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), where counsel "had no


recollection of being directed to file an appeal" but was also unable to provide any other information because counsel "no longer had any file to determine whether he had received any written instructions to appeal."

Instead, the context provided here makes this case similar to Monlyn v. State, 894 So.2d 832, 838 (Fla. 2004), where the Florida Supreme Court determined that trial counsel's testimony that he "had no specific recollection" of advising a client regarding his right to testify, when coupled with testimony of his general practice, could serve as competent, substantial evidence sufficient to deny an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.[1]

We therefore remand this case to the Hernando County Circuit Court for a period of forty-five (45) days from the date hereof for the judge currently presiding over the case or the...

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