State v. Goode

Citation830 So.2d 817
Decision Date17 October 2002
Docket NumberNo. SC01-28.,SC01-28.
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Appellant, v. Darren Jerome GOODE, Appellee.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Dyann W. Beaty, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, FL, and Richard L. Polin, Assistant Attorney General, Miami, FL, for Appellant.

James Marion Moorman, Public Defender, and Deborah K. Brueckheimer, Assistant Public Defender, Tenth Judicial Circuit, Bartow, FL, for Appellee.

PER CURIAM.

We have for review a trial court judgment certified by the district court of appeal to be of great public importance and to require immediate resolution by this Court. See State v. Goode, 779 So.2d 544 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001)

. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(5), Fla. Const. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the trial court's order dismissing the involuntary civil commitment proceedings against the appellee, Darren Jerome Goode, initiated upon the expiration of his sentence of imprisonment, because a trial was not commenced within the mandatory thirty-day time period provided by statute, and no continuance for good cause was ordered prior to the expiration of that period. We further hold, however, that the expiration of the mandatory thirty-day period does not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction over the commitment proceedings.

BACKGROUND

Darren Goode was convicted of attempted sexual battery and sentenced to a forty-two month prison sentence. He was scheduled to be released on October 28, 1999. On the day he was scheduled to be released, the State filed a petition to civilly commit Goode as a sexually violent predator pursuant to what is commonly known as the Jimmy Ryce Act (the Ryce Act),1 sections 394.910-.931, Florida Statutes (1999) (entitled "Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators"). On that same day, the trial court made an ex parte finding pursuant to section 394.915(1), and without any notice to Goode, that probable cause existed to continue to detain Goode. Goode was thereafter detained indefinitely despite the expiration of his criminal sentence.

While Goode remained imprisoned he was not notified of the civil commitment proceedings until November 22, 1999, when a status hearing was held in front of a different judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Judge Ralph Steinberg. At the time of the hearing, only six days remained before expiration of the thirty-day time limit provided for in section 394.916(1) to conduct a final hearing in the commitment proceedings. Goode's newly appointed counsel moved to dismiss the proceedings because of the difficulty involved with preparing for and proceeding to trial in six days. Judge Steinberg denied the motion without prejudice because another judge had been assigned to Goode's case and Judge Steinberg preferred that the motion be ruled on by the judge assigned to the case.

On January 6, 2000, while Goode was still being detained without trial, defense counsel filed two additional motions to dismiss the proceedings, and on January 24, 2000, a hearing on Goode's motions to dismiss was held before Judge J. Rogers Padgett, the assigned judge. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Padgett dismissed the proceedings on a violation of the statutory provision requiring a final hearing to commence within thirty days of the ex parte finding of probable cause. A written order was entered on the same day, providing:

That the Respondent's Motion to Dismiss be, and hereby is, GRANTED; The Court finds that pursuant to Sections 394.916(1), Florida Statutes (1999), the Petitioner failed to bring the Respondent to trial within the required 30 days; the 30 day time limit for trial was not requested to be continued for good cause by either party or by the court on its own motion pursuant to 394.916(2), Florida Statutes, (1999); since the time limit for commencing trial in this case has expired, it is hereby ordered that the petition is dismissed.

The State appealed and the Second District Court of Appeal certified the case to this Court without ruling on the merits. See Goode, 779 So.2d at 545

. However, in another decision involving the same issue the Second District held that the thirty-day provision for bringing a detainee to trial was mandatory, a holding consistent with the trial judge's ruling herein. See Kinder v. State, 779 So.2d 512 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). We have approved the Kinder holding in a separate opinion. See State v. Kinder, 830 So.2d 832 (Fla. 2002).

ANALYSIS

The Ryce Act sets out a scheme for the continued detention of persons who have been convicted and imprisoned in Florida for certain sexual offenses. Sections 394.918-.930 of the Ryce Act provide for the civil commitment of "sexually violent predators" after their criminal sentences have expired. See §§ 394.910-.931, Fla. Stat. (1999). A "sexually violent predator" is defined in the Ryce Act as "any person who: (a) Has been convicted of a sexually violent offense; and (b) Suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care, and treatment." § 394.912(10), Fla. Stat. (1999).

Section 394.913 requires a multidisciplinary team made up of psychiatrists or psychologists to assess inmates in Florida prisons who are serving sentences for sexually violent crimes. § 394.913, Fla. Stat. (1999). If the multidisciplinary team concludes that the person meets the definition of a "sexually violent predator," the team must provide a written assessment and recommendation to the state attorney. See id. After receiving the team's assessment and recommendation, the state attorney is authorized to file a petition with the circuit court "alleging that the person is a sexually violent predator and stating facts sufficient to support such allegation." § 394.914, Fla. Stat. (1999).

Section 394.915(1) authorizes the court to make an ex parte determination, based on the state attorney's petition, as to

whether probable cause exists to believe that the person named in the petition is a sexually violent predator. If the judge determines that there is probable cause to believe that the person is a sexually violent predator, the judge shall order that the person remain in custody and be immediately transferred to an appropriate secure facility if the person's incarcerative sentence expires.

In cases where a person's incarcerative sentence expires, entitling the person to release, section 394.915(2) provides for the possibility of a second "adversarial" determination of probable cause:

Upon the expiration of the incarcerative sentence and before the release from custody of a person whom the multidisciplinary team recommends for civil commitment, but after the state attorney files a petition under s. 394.914, the court may conduct an adversarial probable cause hearing if it determines such hearing is necessary. The court shall only consider whether to have an adversarial probable cause hearing in cases where the failure to begin a trial is not the result of any delay caused by the respondent.

(Emphasis supplied). No adversarial probable cause determination was conducted in Goode's case.

TIME LIMITATION FOR FINAL HEARING

The specific provision of the Ryce Act at issue in this case involves the time for trial after a court has made a determination of probable cause under section 394.915. Section 394.916 states, in pertinent part:

(1) Within 30 days after the determination of probable cause, the court shall conduct a trial to determine whether the person is a sexually violent predator.
(2) The trial may be continued upon the request of either party and a showing of good cause, or by the court on its own motion in the interests of justice, when the person will not be substantially prejudiced.

§ 394.916, Fla. Stat. (1999) (emphasis added). The question before this Court actually involves three distinct issues; whether the emphasized language should be considered jurisdictional, meaning that after the thirty days have elapsed the court loses jurisdiction over the case; whether the language is mandatory, meaning that the trial must be held within thirty days; or, whether the language is simply directory, meaning that compliance with the time limit is discretionary and merely a matter of convenience. Upon review, we conclude that by its plain terms, the thirty-day provision is mandatory but not jurisdictional.

Kansas Act

We begin our analysis with a brief discussion of the legislative history of the Ryce Act, which appears to have been largely based on Kansas's similar statutory scheme allowing for the continued civil commitment of certain sexual offenders even after they have served criminal sentences for their crimes.2 The Florida Legislature first passed the Ryce Act in 1998.3 The final staff analysis on the house version of the Jimmy Ryce bill referred to the "strict procedural safeguards" provided in the Kansas act and made numerous comparisons to provisions in the Kansas act. See Fla. H.R. Comm. on Fam. Law & Child., CS for HB 3327 (1998) Staff Analysis 9 (final May 26, 1998). Kansas's act was used as a model in part because the United States Supreme Court had upheld Kansas's act in Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 117 S.Ct. 2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997).4 In Westerheide v. State, 767 So.2d 637, 645 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000),approved, 831 So.2d 93 (Fla.2002), for example, the Fifth District concluded that "the Florida Legislature intended to establish a civil proceeding substantially similar to the Kansas Act scrutinized by the court in Hendricks."

The State contends that the Ryce Act was based on statutes from a number of different states and not just Kansas. However, our review of the available legislative history confirms that the Florida Legislature was intending to substantially pattern the Ryce Act after the Kansas act.5 Both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate developed...

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