State v. McBride, No. SC02-627.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtCANTERO, J.
Citation848 So.2d 287
Docket NumberNo. SC02-627.
Decision Date15 May 2003
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. Antoine L. McBRIDE, Respondent.

848 So.2d 287

STATE of Florida, Petitioner,
v.
Antoine L. McBRIDE, Respondent

No. SC02-627.

Supreme Court of Florida.

May 15, 2003.


848 So.2d 288
Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, and Robin A. Compton and Kellie A. Nielan, Assistant Attorneys General, Daytona Beach, for Petitioner

Beverly A. Pohl and Bruce Rogow of Bruce S. Rogow, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for Respondent.

CANTERO, J.

We review McBride v. State, 810 So.2d 1019, 1023 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002), in which the district court of appeal certified the following question of great public importance:

IS A DEFENDANT ENTITLED TO RELIEF PURSUANT TO A SUCCESSIVE RULE 3.800(a) MOTION TO CORRECT AN ILLEGAL SENTENCE WHEN THE DEFENDANT RAISED THE IDENTICAL ISSUE IN A PRIOR RULE 3.800(a) MOTION THAT WAS DENIED BY THE TRIAL COURT BUT NEVER APPEALED TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL?

We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We answer the question in the negative and quash the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

I. Facts

Pursuant to a plea agreement, McBride entered a plea of nolo contendere to charges of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and robbery with a firearm. See McBride, 810 So.2d at 1020. The court sentenced him as a habitual felony offender to concurrent thirty-year terms of imprisonment on each of the

848 So.2d 289
three counts. Id. In May 1990, however, when he committed the attempted firstdegree murder, which is a life felony, life felonies were not subject to sentence enhancement under the habitual offender statute. See Lamont v. State, 610 So.2d 435 (Fla.1992)

In 2000, respondent filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a), asserting that the habitual offender sentence imposed for the attempted first-degree murder was illegal and requesting that he be resentenced. The court denied the motion, and McBride did not appeal. The following year, McBride filed another motion under the same rule asserting the same argument. Noting the successive nature of the claim, the trial court denied the motion, and this time McBride appealed. The Fifth District reversed, holding that the law of the case doctrine did not bar review by an appellate court and that the illegal sentence should be corrected. The appellate court thus reversed and remanded for further proceedings and certified the question quoted above. McBride, 810 So.2d at 1023.

II. McBride's Habitual Offender Sentence

This Court previously has held that habitual offender sentences imposed for life felonies when life felonies were not subject to the habitual offender statute are illegal. See Carter v. State, 786 So.2d 1173, 1180 (Fla.2001); Lamont v. State, 610 So.2d 435, 438 (Fla.1992). It is therefore undisputed that McBride's habitual offender sentence for attempted first-degree murder is illegal. Such a sentence ordinarily may be corrected under rule 3.800(a). See Carter, 786 So.2d at 1180. Because McBride already had filed the identical motion and the court had denied it, however, we must determine whether McBride is procedurally barred from obtaining relief. Our standard of review on such an issue is de novo. See West v. State, 790 So.2d 513, 514 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001); see also State v. Nuckolls, 677 So.2d 12, 13 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996) (noting that "[t]he issues in this case revolve around the legal sufficiency of the pleadings and therefore we review de novo the trial court's ruling").

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) provides as follows, in relevant part:

A court may at any time correct an illegal sentence imposed by it, or an incorrect calculation made by it in a sentencing scoresheet, or a sentence that does not grant proper credit for time served when it is affirmatively alleged that the court records demonstrate on their face an entitlement to that relief ....

As we have previously stated, rule 3.800(a) "is intended to balance the need for finality of convictions and sentences with the goal of ensuring that criminal defendants do not serve sentences imposed contrary to the requirements of law." Carter, 786 So.2d at 1176. A sentence is illegal if it imposes "a kind of punishment that no judge under the entire body of sentencing statutes could possibly inflict under any set of factual circumstances." Id. at 1178 (quoting and approving definition in Blakley v. State, 746 So.2d 1182, 1186-87 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999)).

III. The Law of the Case Doctrine

The district court correctly held that the law of the case doctrine does not prevent McBride from relitigating the legality of his habitual offender sentence. That doctrine requires that "questions of law actually decided on appeal must govern the case in the same court and the trial court, through all subsequent stages of the proceedings." Florida Dep't of Transp. v. Juliano, 801 So.2d 101, 105

848 So.2d 290
(Fla.2001) (emphasis added). Law-of-the-case principles do not apply unless the issues are decided on appeal. Id.; see also Kelly v. State, 739 So.2d 1164, 1164 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999) (holding that "[s]uccessive 3.800(a) motions re-addressing issues previously considered and rejected on the merits and reviewed on appeal are barred by the doctrine of law of the case"). Because McBride did not appeal the previous order denying his rule 3.800 motion, the district court correctly held that the law of the case doctrine does not apply

IV. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel Principles

Our conclusion that the law of the case doctrine does not bar McBride's claim does not, however, end our analysis. The State urges us to apply the common law doctrine of res judicata. This Court has explained that doctrine as follows:

A judgment on the merits rendered in a former suit between the same parties or their privies, upon the same cause of action, by a court of competent jurisdiction, is conclusive not only as to every matter which was offered and received to sustain or defeat the claim, but as to every other matter which might with propriety have been litigated and determined in that action.

Juliano, 801 So.2d at 105 (quoting Kimbrell v. Paige, 448 So.2d 1009, 1012 (Fla. 1984)). Thus, under res judicata, a judgment on the merits bars a subsequent action between the same parties on the same cause of action. See Denson v. State, 775 So.2d 288, 290 (Fla.2000) (applying res judicata to deny a habeas petition where the defendant had raised the same claim in a 3.800 motion decided against him on the merits and the defendant had exhausted all appropriate appellate review). Res judicata, however, prohibits not only relitigation of claims raised but also the litigation of claims that could have been raised in the prior action. Juliano, 801 So.2d at 105. The doctrine would require a motion to correct an illegal sentence to raise all arguments that the sentence is illegal. Subsequent motions would be barred if they contained arguments that were or could have been raised in the prior motion. Rule 3.800, however, allows a court to correct an illegal sentence "at any time." Florida courts have held, and we agree, that the phrase "at any time" allows defendants to file successive motions under rule 3.800. See Raley v. State, 675 So.2d 170, 173 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996); Barnes v. State, 661 So.2d 71, 71 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995). Thus, rule 3.800 expressly rejects application of res judicata principles to such motions.

Again, however, this conclusion does not end the analysis. Although res judicata may not apply to motions filed under rule 3.800, the similar, but more narrow, doctrine of collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, does apply.1 We have explained that doctrine as follows:

"Collateral estoppel is a judicial doctrine which in general terms prevents identical parties from relitigating the same issues that have already been decided." Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services v. B.J.M., 656 So.2d 906, 910 (Fla.1995). Under Florida law, collateral
848 So.2d 291
estoppel, or issue preclusion, applies when "the identical issue has been litigated between the same parties or their privies." Gentile v. Bauder, 718 So.2d 781, 783 (Fla.1998). In addition, the particular matter must be fully litigated and determined in a contest that results in a final decision of a court of competent jurisdiction. See B.J.M., 656 So.2d at 910.

City of Oldsmar v. State, 790 So.2d 1042, 1046 n. 4 (Fla.2001). Although collateral estoppel generally precludes relitigation of an issue in a subsequent but separate cause of action, its intent, which is to prevent parties from rearguing the same issues that have been decided between them, applies in the postconviction context. As explained above, under the principles of res judicata a defendant would be prohibited from filing any successive 3.800 motion on any issue that was or could have been raised. Collateral estoppel, on the other hand, only precludes a defendant from rearguing in a successive rule 3.800 motion the same issue argued in a prior motion.

This analysis is consistent with the application of rule 3.800 in the district courts of appeal. For example, in Smith v. State, 685 So.2d 912, 912 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), the Fifth District considered "whether the defendant may obtain relief, based on a claim that he was not given proper gain time credit, by a successive rule 3.800 motion." The court concluded that "[w]hile it may be correct that rule 3.800 does not prohibit successive motions, we hold that where, as here, a defendant raises an issue under rule 3.800, the lower court denies relief and the defendant fails to appeal, he may not later raise the same issue in another rule 3.800 motion." Id. Accord Tisdol v. State, 823 So.2d 300, 301 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002); see also Jenkins v. State, 749 So.2d 527, 528 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999) (noting that a defendant may not raise the same illegal sentencing issue in successive postconviction motions); Price v. State, 692 So.2d 971, 971 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997) (noting that rule 3.800 "contains no...

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343 practice notes
  • Collins v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., Case No. 3:18-cv-164-J-34JBT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • October 6, 2020
    ...a prior postconviction motion and decided on the merits. Mills v. State, 23 So. 3d 186, 187 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) (citing State v. McBride, 848 So. 2d 287, 290 (Fla. 2003)).As an initial matter, the Court finds that the claims raised in the instant Motions are substantially similar to the cla......
  • Tyson v. Viacom, Inc., No. 4D01-4554.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 12, 2005
    ...raised and determined in the prior action, whether they were or not." ICC Chem. Corp., 640 So.2d at 93; see also State v. McBride, 848 So.2d 287, 290 (Fla.2003) ("Res judicata ... prohibits not only relitigation of claims raised but 890 So.2d 1225 also the litigation of claims tha......
  • Solomon v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., Case No. 3:17-cv-264-J-32JRK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 23, 2020
    ..."govern the case in the same court and the trial court, through all subsequent stages of the proceedings." State v. McBride, 848 So. 2d 287, 289-90 (Fla. 2003). Furthermore, a defendant cannot avoid the law of the case doctrine by "[b]y packaging the same legal issue in aPage......
  • Dadeland Depot. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine, No. SC04-1828.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 21, 2006
    ...and determined in the original proceeding and also to matters which could have properly been raised and determined. See State v. McBride, 848 So.2d 287, 290 Both parties in this action agree that the required prerequisites for the application of res judicata are not satisfied in the instant......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
343 cases
  • Collins v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., Case No. 3:18-cv-164-J-34JBT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • October 6, 2020
    ...a prior postconviction motion and decided on the merits. Mills v. State, 23 So. 3d 186, 187 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) (citing State v. McBride, 848 So. 2d 287, 290 (Fla. 2003)).As an initial matter, the Court finds that the claims raised in the instant Motions are substantially similar to the cla......
  • Tyson v. Viacom, Inc., No. 4D01-4554.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 12, 2005
    ...raised and determined in the prior action, whether they were or not." ICC Chem. Corp., 640 So.2d at 93; see also State v. McBride, 848 So.2d 287, 290 (Fla.2003) ("Res judicata ... prohibits not only relitigation of claims raised but 890 So.2d 1225 also the litigation of claims tha......
  • Solomon v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., Case No. 3:17-cv-264-J-32JRK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 23, 2020
    ..."govern the case in the same court and the trial court, through all subsequent stages of the proceedings." State v. McBride, 848 So. 2d 287, 289-90 (Fla. 2003). Furthermore, a defendant cannot avoid the law of the case doctrine by "[b]y packaging the same legal issue in aPage......
  • Dadeland Depot. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine, No. SC04-1828.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 21, 2006
    ...and determined in the original proceeding and also to matters which could have properly been raised and determined. See State v. McBride, 848 So.2d 287, 290 Both parties in this action agree that the required prerequisites for the application of res judicata are not satisfied in the instant......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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