Scull v. State, 73687

Decision Date08 November 1990
Docket NumberNo. 73687,73687
Citation569 So.2d 1251
Parties15 Fla. L. Weekly S591 Jesus SCULL, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Calianne P. Lantz, Sp. Asst. Public Defender, Miami, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Ralph Barreira, Asst. Atty. Gen., Miami, for appellee.

KOGAN, Justice.

Jesus Scull appeals from a resentencing hearing in which the trial court imposed a sentence of death. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

The facts of this case are recited in Scull's first appeal to this Court. Scull v. State, 533 So.2d 1137 (Fla.1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1037, 109 S.Ct. 1937, 104 L.Ed.2d 408 (1989). There, we found the trial court's initial sentencing order "replete with error" and remanded for a new sentencing proceeding. Id. at 1143-44. Before it had even received this Court's mandate, however, the trial court below held the new proceeding on December 28, 1988, during the Christmas holidays, only three weeks after we denied rehearing. Since it was error to conduct the hearing before receipt of the mandate, the trial court held a second hearing on December 30, 1988, after the mandate had arrived.

Scull's counsel was taken by surprise by this rush to resentence her client. Returning from a Christmas vacation on December 27, 1988, she learned of the resentencing hearing and telephoned the prosecutor to obtain an explanation. The prosecutor apparently stated that the trial judge was leaving his job and did not wish to "dump" this case on his replacement. The state now concedes that this, in fact, was the trial court's motive.

As a result of this conversation, Scull now asserts that the trial court engaged in ex parte communications with the prosecutor.

After learning of the sudden scheduling of the resentencing, Scull's counsel made a series of motions. She filed a motion asking the trial judge to recuse himself because of alleged prejudice. This prejudice was evinced, she argued, by the trial court's haste in resentencing Scull and by his referring to Scull as a "psychopath" in the first sentencing. Defense counsel also filed a motion for a continuance seeking further time to prepare, and for a one-day stay to file a petition for writ of prohibition in this Court. All motions were denied, and the trial court subsequently resentenced Scull to death. Scull now alleges that the trial court's haste to resentence him violated his due process rights.

We agree that the trial court's haste in resentencing Scull violated his due process rights. One of the most basic tenets of Florida law is the requirement that all proceedings affecting life, liberty, or property must be conducted according to due process. Art. I, § 9, Fla. Const. While we often have said that "due process" is capable of no precise definition, e.g. Gilmer v. Bird, 15 Fla. 410 (1875), there nevertheless are certain well-defined rights clearly subsumed within the meaning of the term.

The essence of due process is that fair notice and a reasonable opportunity to be heard must be given to interested parties before judgment is rendered. Tibbetts v. Olson, 91 Fla. 824, 108 So. 679 (1926). Due process envisions a law that hears before it condemns, proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after proper consideration of issues advanced by adversarial parties. State ex rel. Munch v. Davis, 143 Fla. 236, 244, 196 So. 491, 494 (1940). In this respect the term "due process" embodies a fundamental conception of fairness that derives ultimately from the natural rights of all individuals. See art. I, § 9, Fla. Const.

We believe that the totality of events leading up to the resentencing of Scull in this instance violated these basic requirements of due process. As the state concedes in its brief, "[t]here is no question that the defendant's counsel was rushed into the...

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42 cases
  • Lamont v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 18, 1992
    ...everyone must be given sufficient notice of those matters that may result in a deprivation of life, liberty, or property. Scull v. State, 569 So.2d 1251 (Fla.1990) (on petition for clarification); Franklin, 257 So.2d at 23. For this [a] penal statute must be written in language sufficiently......
  • Asay v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • December 22, 2016
    ...be given to interested parties before judgment is rendered.’ " Huff v. State , 622 So.2d 982, 983 (Fla. 1993) (quoting Scull v. State , 569 So.2d 1251, 1252 (Fla. 1990) ).Here, Asay failed to object to the circuit court's receipt of the public records via e-mail. He also failed to object wh......
  • T.L. v. F.M.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 13, 2019
    ...an opportunity to be heard in his defense—a right to his day in court—are basic in our system of jurisprudence ...."); Scull v. State, 569 So.2d 1251, 1252 (Fla. 1990) ("The essence of due process is that fair notice and a reasonable opportunity to be heard must be given to interested parti......
  • Noel v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 3, 2014
    ...harsh without ever giving either defendant the opportunity to explain why they were unable to pay the restitution. 9. In Scull v. State, 569 So.2d 1251 (Fla.1990), the Florida Supreme Court outlined the concept of due process: The essence of due process is that fair notice and a reasonable ......
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