Smithers v. State, SC17–1283

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation244 So.3d 152
Docket NumberNo. SC17–1283,SC17–1283
Parties Samuel L. SMITHERS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date29 March 2018

244 So.3d 152

Samuel L. SMITHERS, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. SC17–1283

Supreme Court of Florida.

[March 29, 2018]

James Vincent Viggiano, Jr., Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Adriana C. Corso and Ali A. Shakoor, Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Middle Region, Temple Terrace, Florida, for Appellant

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Candace M. Sabella, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, for Appellee


Samuel L. Smithers, a prisoner under sentences of death, appeals the circuit court's order summarily denying his first successive motion for postconviction relief, which was filed under

244 So.3d 153

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

In 1998, a jury convicted Smithers of two counts of first-degree murder for the 1996 killings of Cristy Cowan and Denise Roach. After hearing evidence at the penalty phase, the jury unanimously recommended the death sentence for each murder by a vote of twelve to zero. We affirmed Smithers' convictions and sentences of death on direct appeal. Smithers v. State , 826 So.2d 916 (Fla. 2002). We also upheld the denial of his initial motion for postconviction relief and denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Smithers v. State , 18 So.3d 460 (Fla. 2009).

In January 2017, Smithers filed his current first successive postconviction motion in which he raised numerous claims in light of Hurst v. Florida (Hurst v. Florida ), ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 616, 193 L.Ed.2d 504 (2016), Hurst v. State (Hurst ), 202 So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2161, 198 L.Ed.2d 246 (2017), Perry v. State , 210 So.3d 630 (Fla. 2016), and chapter 2016–13, Laws of Florida. In June 2017, the circuit court entered an order summarily denying Smithers' successive postconviction motion. This appeal followed. While Smithers' postconviction case was pending in this Court, we directed the parties to file briefs addressing why the circuit court's order should not be affirmed based on this Court's precedent in Hurst , Davis v. State , 207 So.3d 142 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2218, 198 L.Ed.2d 663 (2017), and Mosley v. State , 209 So.3d 1248 (Fla. 2016).

In Davis , this Court held that a jury's unanimous recommendation of death is "precisely what we determined in Hurst to be constitutionally necessary to impose a sentence of death" because a "jury unanimously f[inds] all of the necessary facts for the imposition of...

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2 cases
  • Grim v. State, SC17–1071
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 29, 2018
    ...present mitigation at the Spencer hearing and recognized in its sentencing order that the penalty phase jury did not have the benefit of 244 So.3d 152hearing mitigation, I cannot conclude, in light of Hurst , that the lack of mitigation was remedied. The jury in Grim's case was left with no......
  • Taylor v. State, SC17–1458
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 5, 2018
    ...deny Hurst relief to defendants who have received unanimous jury recommendations of death. See, e.g. , Smithers v. State , No. SC17–1283, 244 So.3d 152, 2018 WL 1531428 (Fla. Mar. 29, 2018) ; Grim v. State , No. SC17–1071, 244 So.3d 147, 2018 WL 1531121 (Fla. Mar. 29, 2018) ; Bevel v. State......

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