Walls v. State, 73261

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtKOGAN; SHAW, C.J., and BARKETT; GRIMES; McDONALD, J., dissents with an opinion, in which OVERTON; GRIMES; McDONALD; OVERTON
Citation580 So.2d 131,16 Fla. L. Weekly 254
PartiesFrank A. WALLS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. 580 So.2d 131, 16 Fla. L. Week. 254
Docket NumberNo. 73261,73261
Decision Date11 April 1991

Page 131

580 So.2d 131
Frank A. WALLS, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 73261.
580 So.2d 131, 16 Fla. L. Week. 254
Supreme Court of Florida.
April 11, 1991.
Rehearing Denied June 13, 1991.

Page 132

Nancy Daniels, Public Defender, and W.C. McLain, Asst. Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Mark C. Menser, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for appellee.

KOGAN, Justice.

Frank A. Walls appeals from a judgment and sentence of death. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

During the early morning hours of July 22, 1987, a neighbor heard loud noises coming from the mobile home of the victims, Edward Alger and Ann Peterson. When Alger failed to report for duty at the air force base his superior officer Sergeant Calloway went to Alger's home. The body of a nude female was discovered in the front bedroom. Calloway left immediately to telephone police.

When investigators arrived, they found Peterson lying face down on the floor of the front bedroom. She had been shot twice in the head. Alger's nude body was found on the floor of the second bedroom. His feet were tied with a curtain cord and a piece of the same cord was tied to his left wrist. Alger had been shot three times and his throat was cut.

A warrant was obtained to search the mobile home where Walls lived with his roommate. The warrant was issued based primarily on information given to the investigators by Walls' former roommate, who lived in the mobile home adjacent to that of the victims. A number of items were seized during the search that were linked to the crime scene.

Following his arrest, Walls gave a statement to the investigators detailing his involvement in the murders. Walls was charged with ten offenses. Some of these charges were dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses following Walls' motion for judgment of acquittal at the conclusion of the trial.

During pretrial detention, a correctional officer named Vickie Beck was asked to conduct a surveillance of Walls, because he was suspected in other murders. Beck approached Walls and assured him that anything he told her would remain confidential. She insisted that Walls not tell his attorney. As a result of her observations, Beck took detailed notes of Walls' statements and behavior. Later, these notes were given to the state and its examining psychiatrists.

Walls pleaded not guilty and filed several pretrial motions, including a motion to determine his competency to stand trial. Five experts testified, three stating Walls was incompetent and two finding he was competent. The latter two were the only ones who had relied on Beck's notes in evaluating Walls. The trial judge agreed with these two experts and held that Walls was competent to stand trial.

The jury found Walls guilty of all charges submitted. On the murder counts Walls was found guilty of felony murder for the death of Alger and guilty of premeditated and felony murder for the death of Peterson. After hearing the evidence in mitigation the jury recommended a life sentence for the death of Alger and a sentence of death for the murder of Peterson. The trial court complied with the jury's recommendations.

In this appeal, Walls raises several issues, one of which is dispositive of the case. Walls argues that Beck's activities during his pretrial detention violated his constitutional rights. We agree that it violated the due process provision of the Florida Constitution, article I, section 9.

Page 133

As a matter of Florida law, we believe the legal rigors imposed by due process come into play when a psychiatric evaluation that may be used in any manner against the accused is conducted in whole or in part by means of an illegal subterfuge. Art. I, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. This includes instances when a third-party employing such a subterfuge effectively is serving as information gatherer for medical or psychological professionals who later will make such evaluations. Id.

This is a conclusion required by precedent. The term "due process" embodies a fundamental conception of fairness that derives ultimately from the natural rights of all individuals. Scull v. State, 569 So.2d 1251 (Fla.1990). "Fairness" is nearly the equivalent of the concept of "good faith," which imposes a standard of conduct requiring both fairness and honesty. Municipal Bond & Mortgage Corp. v. Bishop's Harbor Drainage Dist., 154 Fla. 246, 17 So.2d 226 (1944). As we stated in Haliburton v. State, 514 So.2d 1088 (Fla.1987), " 'due process requires fairness, integrity, and honor in the operation of the criminal justice system, and in its treatment of the citizen's cardinal constitutional protections.' " Id. at 1090 (quoting Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 467, 106 S.Ct. 1135, 1165, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986) (Stevens, J., dissenting)).

By any stretch of the imagination, the subterfuge used against Walls in this instance fails either to be fair or honest. Thus, since the subterfuge led to information later used against Walls, due process is implicated and the courts are required to conduct an intensive scrutiny of the police conduct in question.

In a similar context, the United States Supreme Court has noted that

certain interrogation techniques, either in isolation or as applied to the unique characteristics of a particular suspect, are so offensive to a civilized system of justice that they must be condemned under the Due Process Clause....

Miller v. Fenton, 474 U.S. 104, 109, 106 S.Ct. 445, 449, 88 L.Ed.2d 405 (1985). The Court then noted that "ours is an accusatorial and not an inquisitorial system." Id. at 110, 106 S.Ct. at 449 (quoting Rogers v. Richmond, 365 U.S. 534, 541, 81...

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14 cases
  • People v. McCauley, 73800
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • December 22, 1994
    ...Furthermore, due process contemplates that police act in an accusatorial, not an inquisitorial, manner. See Walls v. State (Fla.1991), 580 So.2d 131, In Illinois, due process of law requires that an accused shall be given the benefit of counsel. (See United States ex rel. Hall v. Ragen (N.D......
  • Walls v. State, SC03-633.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 9, 2006
    ...evaluations not be conducted by the experts who had received the information obtained through police subterfuge. See Walls v. State, 580 So.2d 131, 132-35 (Fla. At Walls' retrial, venue was moved to Jackson County because of pretrial publicity. The State's guilt phase evidence consisted of ......
  • State v. McAdams, s. SC14–788
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 21, 2016
    ...Due Process Clause prohibits.” Id. (quoting Burbine, 475 U.S. at 467, 106 S.Ct. 1135 (Stevens, J., dissenting)); see also Walls v. State, 580 So.2d 131, 133 (Fla.1991) (“Due process contemplates that the police and other state agents act in an accusatorial, not an inquisitorial, manner.”).F......
  • Walls v. State, SC15–1449.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 20, 2016
    ...The trial judge concurred. The conviction later was reversed and a new trial ordered.Id. at 385 (citing Walls v. State (Walls I ), 580 So.2d 131 (Fla.1991) ).At Walls' retrial, venue was moved to Jackson County because of pretrial publicity. The State's guilt phase evidence consisted of phy......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Suppressing involuntary confessions
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Suppressing Criminal Evidence Confessions and other statements
    • April 1, 2022
    ...been suppressed, as involuntary. Fruits of statements obtained from this type of deception may also be suppressed. In Walls v. State , 580 So.2d 131 (Fla. 1991), a correctional officer was asked to conduct surveillance of a homicide pretrial detainee who was suspected of additional homicide......

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