Johnson v. State, 73--878

Decision Date26 June 1974
Docket NumberNo. 73--878,73--878
Citation297 So.2d 35
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals
PartiesAaron JOHNSON, a/k/a Aaron Ferguson, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.

James A. Gardner, Public Defender, and Robert B. Persons, Jr., Asst. Public Defender, Sarasota, for appellant.

Robert L. Shevin, Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, and Richard G. Pippinger, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tampa, for appellee.

GRIMES, Judge.

Appellant was tried for and convicted of second degree murder. His only point on appeal is that despite his request the judge did not instruct the jury on the penalty for the crime with which he was charged.

Rule 3.390(a) of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, 33 F.S.A. provides that:

'The presiding judge shall charge the jury only upon the law of the case at the conclusion of argument of counsel, and Must include in said charge the penalty fixed by law for the offense for which the accused is then on trial.' (emphasis added)

The predecessor of this rule was § 918.10(1), F.S.A., which contained identical language insofar as pertinent to this case.

In Simmons v. State, 1948, 160 Fla. 626, 36 So.2d 207, the Supreme Court interpreted this statute as permitting the trial court the discretion of whether to give the charge. This decision was followed in Holmes v. State, Fla.App.3d, 1965, 181 So.2d 586, and McBride v. State, Fla.App.1st, 1967, 197 So.2d 850.

In spite of the language of Simmons suggesting that the jury's function is limited to that of determining guilt, appellant argues that the real basis for the decision in Simmons was that the legislature had no right to dictate court procedure. However, the Supreme Court does have the right to dictate court procedure, and by having chosen to adopt a rule on the subject, appellant argues that the Supreme Court meant the language of this rule to be interpreted according to its 'obvious' meaning.

In light of the previous judicial construction of the same language, we feel obliged to affirm. However, we are certifying to the Supreme Court the question herein as a matter of great public interest, not because we think it should be mandatory that the jury be instructed on the penalty for the crime which is charged, but because we think there may be doubt concerning the interpretation of this rule.

We believe most trial judges are of the opinion they have the discretion whether or not to give the charge. If they are correct the Supreme Court will be in a position to confirm this fact and...

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9 cases
  • Tascano v. State, KK-22
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 18 Octubre 1978 said charge the penalty fixed by law for the offenses for which the accused is then on trial. (Emphasis supplied) In Johnson v. State, 297 So.2d 35 (Fla.2d DCA 1974), cert. discharged 308 So.2d 38 (Fla.1975), the defendant had asserted that the court erred in denying his requested jury i......
  • Cooper v. Wainwright
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 21 Febrero 1975
    ...the First and Second District Courts of Appeal had reached contrary conclusions on this question. The Second District in Johnson v. State, Fla.App.1974, 297 So.2d 35, held that the language of the rule was directive and not mandatory and permitted exercise of discretion by the trial court o......
  • Johnson v. State, 45849
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 11 Diciembre 1974
    ...on petition for writ of certiorari, supported by certificate of the District Court of Appeal, Second District, that its decision (Johnson v. State, 297 So.2d 35) is one which involves a question of great public interest. Pursuant to Fla.Const., Article V, Sec. 3(b)(3), F.S.A., we have The p......
  • Terry v. State, V--209
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 22 Octubre 1974
    ...which the jury could have returned a guilty verdict in this case. We have considered our sister court's decision in Johnson v. State, Fla.App. (2d) 297 So.2d 35 (1974), which reached the opposite result and certified the question to the Supreme Court as a matter of great public interest. We......
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