Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Dominique

Supreme Court of Florida

March 30, 2017

STATE OF FLORIDA, Petitioner,
v.
NICOLAS DOMINIQUE, Respondent.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF FILED, DETERMINED.

         Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Direct Conflict of Decisions Broward County Fourth District - Case No. 4D08-2031

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; Celia A. Terenzio, Bureau Chief, and Jeanine Germanowicz, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Petitioner.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, Richard B. Greene, and Patrick B. Burke, Assistant Public Defenders, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Respondent.

          LABARGA, C.J.

         This case is before the Court for review of the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Dominique v. State (Dominique II), 171 So.3d 204 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). The district court certified that its decision is in express and direct conflict with the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal in Dawkins v. State, 170 So.3d 81 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. For the reasons we explain, we quash the decision in Dominique II and approve the decision in Dawkins.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Nicolas Dominique was charged with first-degree murder and ultimately convicted of the second-degree murder of Dwayne Clementson. Dominique II, 171 So.3d at 204. The district court provided a brief summary of the facts as follows:

At the trial, the state presented evidence that the defendant was outside of his former girlfriend's house when her new boyfriend arrived by car. When the new boyfriend exited his car, the defendant chased the new boyfriend down the street while firing a gun, shooting the new boyfriend in the leg which caused him to fall, and then shooting the new boyfriend in the back of the head, killing him.
The state argued that the defendant's actions constituted first-degree murder. The defendant argued that his actions in chasing the new boyfriend down the street while firing his gun was [sic], at worst, manslaughter by culpable negligence.
The trial court instructed the jury on first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter by act, and manslaughter by culpable negligence. The jury found the defendant guilty of second-degree murder.

Id. at 204-05.

         Dominique's jury was instructed on the lesser included offense of manslaughter by act with the same instruction that this Court found to be fundamentally erroneous in State v. Montgomery, 39 So.3d 252 (Fla. 2010), which instructed the jury that to convict for manslaughter by act, the jury must find that the defendant intentionally caused the death of the victim-a finding of an intent to kill that was not an element of the offense of manslaughter by act. On direct appeal, Dominique argued that he was entitled to relief in light of Montgomery, but the Fourth District disagreed and affirmed. See Dominique II, 171 So.3d at 205. The Fourth District rejected the fundamental error claim based on the fact that the trial court also instructed the jury on the lesser included offense of manslaughter by culpable negligence. See Dominique v. State (Dominique I), 40 So.3d 33, 36 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).

         The case then came to this Court on petition for review of the decision in Dominique I. However, we stayed that case pending the disposition of the review of the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in Haygood v. State, 54 So.3d 1035 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011), which was then before this Court. Our decision in Haygood v. State, 109 So.3d 735 (Fla. 2013), was subsequently issued and held that the fundamental error caused by the erroneous Montgomery manslaughter by act instruction was not cured by giving the instruction on manslaughter by culpable negligence where there was no evidence from which a jury could reasonably convict of manslaughter by culpable negligence. See id. at 743. After our decision in Haygood was issued, and upon review of the response to this Court's Order to Show Cause, we granted the petition for review, summarily quashed the decision of the Fourth District in Dominique I, and remanded to the district court for reconsideration in light of our decision in Haygood. See Dominique v. State, 160 So.3d 894 (Fla. 2014) (table report of unpublished order).

         On remand, the Fourth District reversed the conviction and held that fundamental error occurred in the giving of the jury instruction for manslaughter by act, requiring a new trial. Dominique II, 171 So.3d at 204. The Fourth District interpreted our decision in Haygood to require a new trial any time the erroneous manslaughter by act instruction is given and the defendant is convicted of an offense not more than one step removed from manslaughter-regardless of whether the evidence could support a finding of manslaughter by culpable negligence. The district court certified express and direct conflict with Dawkins v. State, 170 So.3d 81, 81 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), and the State sought review of Dominique II in this Court based on that certified conflict.

         In this case, the State contends that the Fourth District in Dominique II misreads Haygood and other cases following Montgomery to incorrectly hold that the erroneous manslaughter by act instruction is fundamental error in all cases, regardless of whether the manslaughter by culpable negligence instruction is given and regardless of whether there is evidence that reasonably supports manslaughter by culpable negligence. Thus, this iteration of a Montgomery challenge focuses on the district court's interpretation of this Court's decision in Haygood.

         The Fourth District concluded that this Court's evolution from Montgomery to Haygood to Griffin[1] demonstrates that giving the manslaughter by act instruction is per se reversible error, even where there is evidence that could support a finding of manslaughter by culpable negligence. The court stated that the culpable negligence instruction "cannot under any circumstance cure" the error created by the faulty manslaughter by act instruction because the error is always pertinent or material to what the jury had to consider to convict the defendant of manslaughter. Dominique II, 171 So.3d at 207. The district court also noted, "We recognize the state's factual distinction from Haygood that giving the erroneous manslaughter by act instruction is fundamental error where the evidence does not support the accompanying manslaughter by culpable negligence instruction, whereas here the evidence arguably supported the accompanying manslaughter by culpable negligence instruction." Id. at 205. Nevertheless, the district court went on to find the error fundamental and per se reversible. The Fourth District explained:

In contrast to the Third District [in Dawkins], under our reading of the evolving precedent from Montgomery to Haygood to Griffin, giving the manslaughter by culpable negligence instruction cannot under any circumstance cure the fundamental error caused by giving the erroneous manslaughter by act instruction, even where the evidence reasonably could support a finding of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

Id. at 207 (bracketed material added). Dawkins held that "where the jury was also instructed in manslaughter by culpable negligence and the evidence could reasonably support so finding, the error in giving the flawed Montgomery manslaughter by act instructions was not per se fundamental error." 170 So.3d at 83. Thus, the Fourth District certified conflict with Dawkins. Before resolving the certified conflict, we review our decision in Haygood, which is central to this case.

         Haygood v. State

         In 2013, this Court issued its decision in Haygood, which is yet another case arising out of a Montgomery fundamental error claim. In Haygood, we stated:

We hold that giving the erroneous manslaughter by act instruction, which we found to be fundamental error in State v. Montgomery, 39 So.3d 252 (Fla. 2010), is also fundamental error even if the instruction on manslaughter by culpable negligence is given where the evidence supports manslaughter by act but does not support ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.