Morgan v. State, No. BG-237

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtNIMMONS
Citation486 So.2d 1356,11 Fla. L. Weekly 751
Parties11 Fla. L. Weekly 751 Clayton Clark MORGAN, III, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. BG-237
Decision Date01 April 1986

Page 1356

486 So.2d 1356
11 Fla. L. Weekly 751
Clayton Clark MORGAN, III, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. BG-237.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
First District.
April 1, 1986.
Rehearing Denied May 2, 1986.

F.T. Ratchford, Jr. of Merritt, Ratchford & Searcy, Pensacola, for appellant.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen., and Henri C. Cawthon, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

NIMMONS, Judge.

This is an appeal by the defendant from certain pretrial orders, the defendant having entered a plea of nolo contendere and purportedly reserved his right to appeal under State v. Ashby, 245 So.2d 225 (Fla.1971). For the reasons hereafter discussed, we dismiss the appeal sua sponte.

Appellant was charged with DWI manslaughter under Sections 316.1931(2) and 782.07, Florida Statutes (1983). At a pretrial hearing the day before the trial was to commence, the defense sought to obtain rulings by the trial court concerning: (1) the admissibility of evidence tending to show fault on the part of the victim in causing the head-on automobile collision which resulted in her death, and (2) the propriety of certain jury instructions relating to such evidence of fault. No evidence was presented at such hearing but counsel informally described what the evidence would show.

The trial judge denied the requested jury instructions and ruled inadmissible the proffered evidence concerning the victim's blood alcohol level and the manner in which she operated her vehicle prior to the accident, such evidence being inadmissible, according to the trial court, under Baker v. State, 377 So.2d 17 (Fla.1979). In Baker, the Court recognized that the DWI manslaughter statute imposed strict criminal liability, the elements of such crime being: (1) a death occurred; (2) the death resulted from the operation of a vehicle by the defendant; and (3) the defendant was intoxicated at the time he operated the vehicle. Baker held that this crime requires no nexus between the defendant's intoxication and the death of the victim and that the tort concepts of negligence and proximate causation are not implicated in a DWI manslaughter prosecution.

Page 1357

At the pretrial hearing, the trial judge regarded the proffered evidence as irrelevant under Baker and thus ruled that such evidence was inadmissible and the proposed jury instructions were improper.

Because of these rulings, the defendant entered a plea of nolo contendere. He reserved the right, with the trial court's permission, to appeal the judge's above referred rulings. Counsel for the defense and state announced to the trial court that they stipulated that the said rulings were dispositive of the case.

The issue raised by appellant on this appeal is whether the trial court erred in determining that evidence of decedent's conduct was inadmissible under Baker v. State, supra. However, we cannot reach that issue because the trial court's rulings are not dispositive of the case, notwithstanding the parties' stipulation.

Appellate review pursuant to an Ashby nolo plea is grounded upon the basic assumption that the issue decided will be dispositive of the case even if the trial court's rulings are reversed on appeal. Brown v. State, 376 So.2d 382 (Fla.1979).

"Because of the nondispositive nature of the appeal, the defendant faces the prospect of a trial even if he prevails on appeal."

Id. at 384. An issue is dispositive only if, regardless of whether the appellate court affirms or reverses the lower court's decision, there will be no trial of the case.

A typical example of dispositiveness is where the trial court has entered a pretrial order denying a motion to suppress drugs in a drug case. Such a ruling is dispositive if the state has no other evidence with which it can proceed to trial against the defendant. Tiller v. State, 330 So.2d 792 (Fla. 1st DCA 1976).

Although the attorneys purported to stipulate that the trial court's rulings were dispositive, it is clear from our review of the transcript of the colloquy between the attorneys and the trial judge that an essential part of the stipulation was that, in the event that such rulings were reversed on appeal, the state would be entitled to proceed to trial. Indeed, at oral argument of this case, counsel readily admitted that their stipulation did not contemplate that the state would be foreclosed from trying the defendant in the event of reversal.

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29 practice notes
  • Hicks v. State, No. 1D17-1830
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 12, 2019
    ...trial, regardless of the outcome of the appeal." Williams v. State , 134 So. 3d 975, 976 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) ; accord Morgan v. State , 486 So. 2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986).If we entertained Hicks's argument and agreed with him, we would have to remand for more proceedings. And that wo......
  • Phuagnong v. State, No. 96-4705
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 15, 1998
    ...of whether the appellate court affirms or reverses the lower court's decision, there will be no trial of the case." Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). In so stipulating, moreover, the state waived its right to argue otherwise on appeal. This is not a case in which th......
  • Goings v. State , No. 1D10–5229.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 22, 2011
    ...1998); Wright v. State, 547 So.2d 258, 259 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989); Howard v. State, 515 So.2d 346, 348 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987); Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). 4. Mr. Goings also testified that between March and August of 1996, he was arrested and placed on probation in ......
  • Mylock v. State, No. 1D98-2719.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 27, 2000
    ...of whether the appellate court affirms or reverses the lower court's decision, there will be no trial of the case." Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). Where the parties stipulate that an issue is dispositive, we will not "`go behind' the stipulation of the parties in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Hicks v. State, No. 1D17-1830
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 12, 2019
    ...trial, regardless of the outcome of the appeal." Williams v. State , 134 So. 3d 975, 976 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) ; accord Morgan v. State , 486 So. 2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986).If we entertained Hicks's argument and agreed with him, we would have to remand for more proceedings. And that wo......
  • Phuagnong v. State, No. 96-4705
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 15, 1998
    ...of whether the appellate court affirms or reverses the lower court's decision, there will be no trial of the case." Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). In so stipulating, moreover, the state waived its right to argue otherwise on appeal. This is not a case in which th......
  • Goings v. State , No. 1D10–5229.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 22, 2011
    ...1998); Wright v. State, 547 So.2d 258, 259 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989); Howard v. State, 515 So.2d 346, 348 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987); Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). 4. Mr. Goings also testified that between March and August of 1996, he was arrested and placed on probation in ......
  • Mylock v. State, No. 1D98-2719.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 27, 2000
    ...of whether the appellate court affirms or reverses the lower court's decision, there will be no trial of the case." Morgan v. State, 486 So.2d 1356, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). Where the parties stipulate that an issue is dispositive, we will not "`go behind' the stipulation of the parties in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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