FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Tribunal No(s).: 371984CF002324A00100
Elton Nixon, a prisoner under sentence of death for the 1984
murder of Jeanne Bickner, appeals the trial court's
denial of his third motion for postconviction relief filed
pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. We have
jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla.
Const. Relief was denied in both of Nixon's previous
postconviction proceedings. See Nixon v. Singletary,
758 So.2d 618 (Fla. 2000); Nixon v. State, 857 So.2d
172 (Fla. 2003). In his current postconviction appeal, Nixon
asserts that the trial court erred in (1) summarily denying
Nixon an evidentiary hearing on his intellectual disability
claim; (2) dismissing Nixon's motion on the basis that he
is not currently intellectually disabled; and (3) rejecting
Nixon's intellectual disability claim based upon
Nixon's argument as to his total intellectual
first claim is based on his motion being summarily denied in
the trial court pursuant to a rule of law that has now been
found unconstitutional under Hall v. Florida, 134
S.Ct. 1986 (2014). During the pendency of this case, this
Court determined that Hall applies retroactively as
a development of fundamental significance. Walls v.
State, 41 Fla.L.Weekly S466, S469 (Fla. Oct. 20, 2016).
postconviction court's decision on whether to grant an
evidentiary hearing on a claim is a pure question of law,
reviewed de novo. Mann v. State, 112 So.3d 1158,
1162 (Fla. 2013). A claim may be summarily denied if it is
legally insufficient or positively refuted by the record.
Id. at 1161. To prevail on a claim of intellectual
disability, a defendant must establish three elements: (1)
significantly subaverage intellectual functioning (2)
existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and
(3) manifesting prior to age 18. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.203;
see also § 921.137(1), Fla. Stat. (2015).
recognizes that intellectual disability "is a condition,
not a number." Hall, 134 S.Ct. at 2001. In a
recent opinion, this Court found that Hall requires
courts to consider all three prongs of intellectual
disability in tandem and that no single factor should be
dispositive of the outcome. See Oats v. State, 181
So.3d 457, 459 (Fla. 2015). Thus, an intellectual disability
claim may not be legally insufficient or positively refuted
by the record even if the defendant's IQ scores are
higher than 70.
Huff hearing, Nixon presented his full range of
scores,  which included a 73 from 1985 and a 72 and
68 from 1993. The trial court incorrectly found the
significantly subaverage intellectual functioning prong
dispositive of Nixon's intellectual disability claim
based on Nixon's current score of 80. Although the court
did not have the benefit of the Oats decision, it
should have conducted the more holistic, interrelated
assessment for which Nixon's counsel argued at the
Huff hearing. Furthermore, because of its ruling as
to the subaverage intellectual functioning prong, the court
here did not look to all of the record evidence of
Nixon's intellectual disability, even disregarding other
non-IQ evidence that could have been relevant.
Nixon's claim is legally sufficient and not conclusively
refuted by the record in this case. As we noted in
Walls, "all three prongs of the intellectual
disability test [must] be considered in tandem…. [T]he
conjunctive and interrelated nature of the test requires no
single factor to be considered dispositive."
Walls, 41 Fla.L.Weekly at S469 (citing
Oats, 181 So.3d at 459). Because the postconviction
court here used the wrong legal standard, under
Oats, to address Nixon's claim, Nixon's
motion cannot be deemed legally insufficient or positively
refuted by the record on that basis and therefore should not
have been summarily denied. We remand on this issue alone,
and instruct the trial court to conduct proceedings to
determine whether a new evidentiary hearing is necessary.
LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, and QUINCE, JJ, concur.
and POLSTON, JJ., dissent.
LAWSON, J., did not participate.
JONATHAN ERIC ...