Thompson v. State, No. SC87481

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation759 So.2d 650
Docket Number No. SC87481, No. SC88321.
PartiesWilliam L. THOMPSON, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. William L. Thompson, Petitioner, v. Harry K. Singletary, Jr., etc., Respondent.
Decision Date13 April 2000

759 So.2d 650

William L. THOMPSON, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee. William L. Thompson, Petitioner,
Harry K. Singletary, Jr., etc., Respondent

Nos. SC87481, SC88321.

Supreme Court of Florida.

April 13, 2000.

Rehearing Denied June 13, 2000.

759 So.2d 653
Melissa Minsk Donoho, Assistant CCRC, Office of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel—Southern Region, Miami, Florida, for Appellant/Petitioner

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, and Fariba N. Komeily, Assistant Attorney General, Miami, Florida, for Appellee/Respondent.


William L. Thompson, an inmate under a sentence of death, appeals the trial court's denial of a motion filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 and petitions this Court to issue a writ of habeas corpus. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the trial court's order and deny habeas relief.


The crime in this case occurred on March 30, 1976. We have previously set forth the facts of this case as follows:

759 So.2d 654
The appellant Thompson, Rocco Surace, Barbara Savage, and the victim Sally Ivester were staying in a motel room. The girls were instructed to contact their homes to obtain money. The victim received only $25 after telling the others that she thought she could get $200 or $300. Both men became furious. Surace ordered the victim into the bedroom, where he took off his chain belt and began hitting her in the face. Surace then forced her to undress, after which the appellant Thompson began to strike her with the chain. Both men continued to beat and torture the victim. They rammed a chair leg into the victim's vagina, tearing the inner wall and causing internal bleeding. They repeated the process with a night stick. The victim was tortured with lit cigarettes and lighters, and was forced to eat her sanitary napkin and lick spilt beer off the floor. This was followed by further severe beatings with the chain, club, and chair leg. The beatings were interrupted only when the victim was taken to a phone booth, where she was instructed to call her mother and request additional funds. After the call, the men resumed battering the victim in the motel room. The victim died as a result of internal bleeding and multiple injuries. The murder had been witnessed by Barbara Savage, who apparently feared equivalent treatment had she tried to leave the motel room.

Thompson v. State, 389 So.2d 197, 198 (Fla.1980).

Thompson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, involuntary sexual battery and kidnapping. Thompson received a death sentence for the first-degree murder conviction and concurrent life sentences for the involuntary sexual battery and kidnapping convictions. During his first appeal, this Court found that in the plea colloquy, Thompson was not asked if any promises were made to him. See Thompson v. State, 351 So.2d 701, 701 (Fla.1977). Therefore, the Court found that Thompson was entitled to withdraw his guilty plea because of "an honest misunderstanding which contaminated the voluntariness of the pleas." Id. at 701.

On remand, Thompson again pleaded guilty to the charges. The trial court again sentenced Thompson to death for the first-degree murder conviction and imposed life sentences for the involuntary sexual battery and kidnapping convictions. This Court affirmed the convictions and sentences on direct appeal. See Thompson, 389 So.2d at 200. Subsequently, we affirmed the trial court's order denying relief on Thompson's first postconviction motion, in which Thompson claimed that his codefendant Surace was the dominant actor in the murder and that Surace's life sentence rendered the death sentence disproportionate. See Thompson v. State, 410 So.2d 500 (Fla.1982).

Thompson then pursued relief in the federal courts, which was denied. See Thompson v. Wainwright, 787 F.2d 1447 (11th Cir.1986) (affirming denial of petition for writ of habeas corpus); Thompson v. Wainwright, 714 F.2d 1495 (11th Cir.1983) (reversing federal district court decision rejecting the State's waiver of exhaustion of remedies).

Returning to state court, Thompson brought a second postconviction motion and petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus. As required by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Hitchcock v. Dugger, 481 U.S. 393, 107 S.Ct. 1821, 95 L.Ed.2d 347 (1987), this Court vacated the death sentence and remanded for resentencing because harmful error occurred when the jury was instructed that it could not consider non-statutory mitigation.1 See Thompson v. Dugger, 515 So.2d 173 (Fla.1987). Upon resentencing, the

759 So.2d 655
jury recommended death by a vote of seven to five, and the trial court again imposed the death penalty. See Thompson v. State, 619 So.2d 261 (Fla.1993). The trial judge found four aggravating circumstances applied: (1) the murder was committed while Thompson was engaged in the commission of the crime of sexual battery; (2) the murder was committed for financial gain; (3) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel (HAC); and (4) the murder was cold, calculated, and premeditated (CCP). See id. at 264. The trial judge rejected all mitigation, finding that although there was evidence Thompson scored in the dull-normal range in intelligence tests, other evidence showed he functioned at a higher level. On appeal, we affirmed the death sentence.2 See id.

Thompson initiated the present proceedings in 1995 when he filed a postconviction motion in the trial court pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850. The trial court summarily denied the 3.850 motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. Thompson appealed the denial of postconviction relief and also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court.

While the appeal and habeas petition were pending in this Court, we granted the motion filed by the State to relinquish jurisdiction for the purpose of holding a Huff3 hearing. After holding the Huff hearing, the trial court again summarily denied Thompson's claims. Thompson raises eighteen issues in his appeal of this summary denial,4 as well as thirty-six

759 So.2d 656
claims in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.5

759 So.2d 657

We first summarily dispose of the issues that are procedurally barred because they have already been raised and considered by this Court in prior proceedings.6 See, e.g., Gaskin v. State, 737 So.2d 509, 513 n. 6 (Fla.1999). We have considered Thompson's third postconviction issue, that the trial court erred in summarily denying the motion for postconviction relief, in conjunction with the other substantive claims. For the reasons expressed in this opinion, we affirm the trial court's summary denial of the 3.850 motion.

A. Public Records Claim

In his first postconviction issue, Thompson contends that the trial court erred in summarily denying his claim that various state agencies had failed to comply with his public record requests. At a status hearing, collateral counsel acknowledged that many public records had been received since the 3.850 motion had been originally filed in 1995, and that a hearing should be held so that the agencies could prove their compliance. However, collateral counsel did not specifically allege at

759 So.2d 658
the Huff hearing which agencies had wrongfully withheld documents in violation of chapter 119, or what type of documents had been wrongfully withheld. Instead, collateral counsel pointed to the thin size of the files received as indicating that documents had been wrongfully withheld

The State argued in the trial court that Thompson had waived his public records claims because he had not filed a motion to compel production with the state agencies. While collateral counsel suggested to the trial court that she be allowed to file motions to compel production and set an evidentiary hearing, she also argued that Thompson was not required to file a motion to compel in order to preserve his claims. The trial court agreed with the State that Thompson had waived the public records issue by not pursuing the records in the trial court. The trial court also made an alternative finding that the State Attorney's office and the prosecuting law enforcement agency, the Metro-Dade Police Department, had produced their public records as required by chapter 119.

At the outset, we must determine which records requests are cognizable in this proceeding. Thompson's postconviction claim alleged that various agencies had withheld public records. Prior to the promulgation of rule 3.852 in 1996, it was clear that in postconviction proceedings on defendants' rule 3.850 motions, defendants could compel the production of public records from the prosecuting State Attorney's Offices and the local law enforcement agencies that had investigated the crime. See, e.g., Reed v. State, 640 So.2d 1094, 1098 (Fla.1994); Hoffman v. State, 613 So.2d 405, 406 (Fla.1992). However, "with respect to agencies outside the judicial circuit in which the case was tried and those within the circuit which have no connection with the state attorney, requests for public records should be pursued under the procedure outlined in chapter 119, Florida Statutes." Hoffman, 613 So.2d at 406 (emphasis supplied). Thus, at the time these requests were filed, the only public record claims cognizable in the 3.850 motion were the noncompliance of the State Attorney's office and the prosecuting law enforcement agency, the Metro-Dade Police Department.

At the time rule 3.852 went into effect in 1996, all pending chapter 119 requests could be consolidated with the defendant's postconviction proceeding. See Fla. R.Crim. Pro. 3.852(i)(2) (1996). In Valle v. State, 705 So.2d 1331, 1335 (Fla.1997), this Court stated that because the capital defendant had voluntarily dismissed his independent chapter 119 action before rule 3.852 went into effect, his public records claims against other...

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