Maddox v. State, No. SC92805

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPARIENTE, J.
Citation760 So.2d 89
Decision Date11 May 2000
Docket Number No. SC93207, No. SC93966., No. SC93000, No. SC92805
PartiesDavid L. MADDOX, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent. Alfonso Edwards, Petitioner, v. State of Florida, Respondent. Jason Tyrone Speights, Petitioner, v. State of Florida, Respondent. Terry Hyden, Petitioner, v. State of Florida, Respondent.

760 So.2d 89

David L. MADDOX, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Alfonso Edwards, Petitioner,
v.
State of Florida, Respondent.
Jason Tyrone Speights, Petitioner,
v.
State of Florida, Respondent.
Terry Hyden, Petitioner,
v.
State of Florida, Respondent

Nos. SC92805, SC93000, SC93207 and SC93966.

Supreme Court of Florida.

May 11, 2000.


760 So.2d 93
James B. Gibson, Public Defender, and Michael S. Becker, Assistant Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Petitioner in No. SC92805

James B. Gibson, Public Defender, and Brynn Newton, Assistant Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Petitioner in No. SC93000.

Nancy A. Daniels, Public Defender, and Angela Shelley, P. Douglas Brinkmeyer and Michael J. Minerva, Assistant Public Defenders, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner in No. SC93207.

Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender, and Susan D. Cline, Assistant Public Defender, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Petitioner in No. SC93966.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, James W. Rogers, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Wesley Heidt, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Respondents David L. Maddox and Alfonso Edwards in Nos. SC92805 and SC93000.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, and James W. Rogers and Trina Kramer, Assistant Attorneys General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Respondent Jason Speights in No. SC93207.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, James W. Rogers, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, Celia Terenzio, Bureau Chief, and Ettie Feistmann and Elaine L. Thompson, Assistant Attorneys General, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Respondent Terry Hyden in No. SC93966.

PARIENTE, J.

We have for review the en banc decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in

760 So.2d 94
Maddox v. State, 708 So.2d 617 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), which expressly and directly conflicts with the en banc opinion of the First District Court of Appeal in Nelson v. State, 719 So.2d 1230 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998), the en banc opinion of the Second District Court of Appeal in Bain v. State, 730 So.2d 296 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999), the opinion of the Third District Court of Appeal in Jordan v. State, 728 So.2d 748 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998), review granted, 735 So.2d 1285 (Fla.1999) (Case No. 95,325), and the en banc opinion of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Hyden v. State, 715 So.2d 960 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998).1 The conflict issue is whether any unpreserved errors related to sentencing can be raised on direct appeal in light of the adoption of section 924.051, Florida Statutes (Supp.1996), enacted as part of the Criminal Appeal Reform Act of 1996 (the Act), and this Court's procedural rules promulgated in Amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, 696 So.2d 1103 (Fla.1996) (hereinafter Amendments I)

For purposes of oral argument, on our own motion, we consolidated Maddox with Hyden, Edwards v. State, 707 So.2d 969 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), and Speights v. State, 711 So.2d 167 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998), quashed and remanded, 749 So.2d 503 (Fla.1999). On our own motion, we now consolidate these cases for disposition in this opinion.2

We anticipate that the amendments to rule 3.800(b) recently promulgated by this Court in Amendments to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.111(e) & 3.800 & Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.020(h), 9.140, & 9.600, 761 So.2d 1015 (Fla.1999), reh'g granted, 761 So.2d at 1025 (hereinafter Amendments II), should eliminate the problem of unpreserved sentencing errors raised on direct appeal because the time in which a defendant can file a motion to correct a sentencing error in the trial court is expanded to the time the first appellate brief is filed. However, we must still address the conflict issue for those noncapital defendants3 whose appeals fall into the window period between the effective date of the Act and the effective date of our recent amendment to rule 3.800 in Amendments II.

We conclude that nothing in the Act or our prior jurisprudence prevents appellate courts from addressing certain unpreserved sentencing errors on direct appeal. Thus, in those cases where the appellant's first appellate brief was filed before our recent enactment of rule 3.800(b) in Amendments II, we approve of the district courts' holdings in Nelson, Bain, Jordan and Hyden to the extent that they recognize

760 So.2d 95
that a narrow class of unpreserved sentencing errors can be raised on direct appeal as fundamental error.4 We disapprove of the Fifth District's decision in Maddox to the extent it holds that no sentencing error may be considered on direct appeal unless such error has been preserved for review by either a contemporaneous objection during the sentencing hearing or a motion to correct sentence filed in the trial court after the sentencing hearing pursuant to rule 3.800(b). However, as will be explained in this opinion, we agree with the ultimate result in Maddox that sentencing errors regarding assessment of costs are not fundamental errors that can be raised on appeal if not preserved for appellate review. 708 So.2d at 617

CONSIDERATION OF "FUNDAMENTAL" SENTENCING ERRORS ON DIRECT APPEAL IN LIGHT OF THE ACT

The primary sections of the Act that are at issue in this case provide that:

(3) An appeal may not be taken from a judgment or order of a trial court unless a prejudicial error is alleged and is properly preserved or, if not properly preserved, would constitute fundamental error. A judgment or sentence may be reversed on appeal only when an appellate court determines after a review of the complete record that prejudicial error occurred and was properly preserved in the trial court or, if not properly preserved, would constitute fundamental error.
(4) If a defendant pleads nolo contendere without expressly reserving the right to appeal a legally dispositive issue, or if a defendant pleads guilty without expressly reserving the right to appeal a legally dispositive issue, the defendant may not appeal the judgment or sentence.

§ 924.051(3)-(4). The goal of the 1996 enactment of the Criminal Appeal Reform Act was "to ensure that all claims of error are raised and resolved at the first opportunity." § 924.051(8). This goal is consistent with the policy of this Court that sentencing errors should be handled by the trial courts at the earliest opportunity rather than on appeal or in the postconviction process. See Amendments II, 761 So.2d at 1025-27.

Section 924.051(3) specifically gives defendants the right to raise, and appellate courts the authority to correct, "fundamental error." The Act neither defines "fundamental error" nor differentiates between trial and sentencing error. It is certainly reasonable to assume that, rather than attempting to alter the definition of fundamental error as it evolved through case law, the Legislature intentionally deferred to the judicially created definition of "fundamental error." See Bain, 730 So.2d at 301; see also State v. Mitro, 700 So.2d 643, 645 (Fla.1997) (stating that where a term is not defined by statute, the courts may resort to the previous case law definition in order to determine the plain meaning of the term).

As Judge Altenbernd observed, "In its narrowest functional definition, `fundamental error' describes an error that can be remedied on direct appeal, even though the appellant made no contemporaneous objection in the trial court and, thus, the trial judge had no opportunity to correct the error." Judge v. State, 596 So.2d 73, 79 n. 3 (Fla. 2d DCA 1991). This Court's previous definitions of "fundamental error" generally describe error that occurred at trial. For example, the Court has described fundamental error as error that "goes to the foundation of the case or the

760 So.2d 96
merits of the cause of action." J.B. v. State, 705 So.2d 1376, 1378 (Fla.1998); see State v. Smith, 240 So.2d 807, 810-11 (Fla. 1970); see also Gudinas v. State, 693 So.2d 953, 961 (Fla.1997) ("Fundamental error is `error which reaches down into the validity of the trial itself to the extent that a verdict of guilty could not have been obtained without the assistance of the alleged error.'") (quoting Archer v. State, 673 So.2d 17, 20 (Fla.1996), which was quoting State v. Delva, 575 So.2d 643, 644-45 (Fla. 1991)). This Court has also defined fundamental error as one "where the interests of justice present a compelling demand for its application." Sochor v. State, 619 So.2d 285, 290 (Fla.1993) (quoting Ray v. State, 403 So.2d 956, 960 (Fla.1981)); see Smith v. State, 521 So.2d 106, 108 (Fla.1988).

Although most of this Court's definitions of fundamental error describe trial error, this Court has at times referred to unpreserved errors in the sentencing context as "fundamental" and corrected them on direct appeal. See State v. Johnson, 616 So.2d 1, 3 (Fla.1993); Wood v. State, 544 So.2d 1004 (Fla.1989). In Johnson, for instance, we found that the defendant's claim that the habitual offender statute violated the single subject requirement constituted fundamental error. 616 So.2d at 3-4. In reaching this conclusion, we noted that to be fundamental the "error must be basic to the judicial decision under review." Id. at 3. We concluded that because the statute "affect[ed] a quantifiable determinant of the length of sentence that may be imposed on a defendant," it involved "fundamental `liberty' due process interests." Id. We recently reaffirmed this principle with regard to a claim that the session law enacting sentencing guidelines violated the single-subject requirement. See Heggs v. State, 759 So.2d 620, 623 (Fla.2000) (citing Johnson, 616 So.2d at 2). We have also used the term "fundamental" to address the imposition of costs without statutorily required notice as resulting in a denial of procedural due process, even though this error does not affect the length of the defendant's...

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314 practice notes
  • Downs v. Moore, No. SC00-2186.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 26, 2001
    ...the integrity of the judicial system and not to protect the interest of any particular aggrieved litigant. See generally Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 98 (Fla. 14. The majority states: "Downs argues that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the prosecutor elicited testimony from D......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...errors be brought to the trial court's attention at the earliest opportunity in order to benefit the defendant. See Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89 (Fla. 2000), and its I also acknowledge the issue raised in Justice Quince's dissent about the waste of judicial resources in cases where the Sta......
  • Jackson v. State, No. SC07-659.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 29, 2008
    ...3.800(b) or by objection during the sentencing hearing forecloses them from raising the error on direct appeal." See also Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 95, 99 (Fla.2000) (holding that for defendants whose appeals fell within the window between the effective date of the Act and the 1999 ame......
  • Hodges v. State, No. SC01-1718
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 14, 2004
    ...imposes a heavy burden on the defendant to establish that the error undermined the fairness of the judicial process. See Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 94 The Court's analysis of the issue on direct appeal clearly shows that its primary focus was on the failure to timely object and thereby ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
314 cases
  • Downs v. Moore, No. SC00-2186.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 26, 2001
    ...the integrity of the judicial system and not to protect the interest of any particular aggrieved litigant. See generally Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 98 (Fla. 14. The majority states: "Downs argues that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the prosecutor elicited testimony from D......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...errors be brought to the trial court's attention at the earliest opportunity in order to benefit the defendant. See Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89 (Fla. 2000), and its I also acknowledge the issue raised in Justice Quince's dissent about the waste of judicial resources in cases where the Sta......
  • Jackson v. State, No. SC07-659.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 29, 2008
    ...3.800(b) or by objection during the sentencing hearing forecloses them from raising the error on direct appeal." See also Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 95, 99 (Fla.2000) (holding that for defendants whose appeals fell within the window between the effective date of the Act and the 1999 ame......
  • Hodges v. State, No. SC01-1718
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 14, 2004
    ...imposes a heavy burden on the defendant to establish that the error undermined the fairness of the judicial process. See Maddox v. State, 760 So.2d 89, 94 The Court's analysis of the issue on direct appeal clearly shows that its primary focus was on the failure to timely object and thereby ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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