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State v. Anderson

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

March 31, 2017

STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellant,
v.
ISAAC L. ANDERSON, JR., Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Orange County, Robert J. Egan, Judge.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Pamela J. Koller, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona.

          Beach, for Appellant. David Frakt, of Law Office of David Frakt, Orlando, for Appellee.

          BERGER, J.

         The State of Florida appeals an amended final order granting Grounds Three and Eight of Isaac Anderson's postconviction motion alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850. The State argues that the postconviction court erred in vacating two of Anderson's convictions: namely, Count Three, fleeing and eluding, and Count Four, resisting arrest without violence because the ineffective assistance of counsel claims raised in Grounds Three and Eight do not concern those convictions.[1] We agree and reverse.

         Anderson was found guilty at trial of two counts of aggravated battery on a police officer with a deadly weapon (Counts One and Two), one count of fleeing and eluding, and one count of resisting arrest without violence. The charges arose after officers in marked police vehicles performed a dynamic takedown of the stolen Ford Focus that Anderson was driving. The takedown resulted in multiple collisions between the Ford Focus and two police cars.[2] After these initial collisions, Anderson fled. Officers, aided by an Orange County Sheriff's Office chase helicopter, pursued Anderson for over five miles until he stopped the Ford Focus in the Pine Hills neighborhood of Orlando. Once stopped, the Ford Focus was rear-ended by a pursuing police car. Anderson and his passenger, Laron Johnson, [3] jumped out of the car and fled on foot. They were apprehended a short time later.

         After his convictions and sentences had been affirmed, Anderson moved for postconviction relief, raising eleven grounds. Only Grounds Three and Eight are relevant to this appeal.

         Ground Three argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to interview and call Johnson as a witness at trial. According to Anderson, Johnson's testimony would have contradicted the testimony of the police officers regarding the damage to the Ford Focus as it related to the aggravated battery counts. Ground Eight alleged that Anderson's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to hire and present testimony from an accident reconstruction expert.

         After holding an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court granted Anderson's motion and vacated and set aside his judgment and sentences. The State filed a motion seeking clarification as to the specific grounds on which the postconviction court granted the motion and, since the motion only addressed the aggravated battery convictions, whether the postconviction court intended to vacate Anderson's convictions for fleeing and eluding and resisting without violence.

         In an amended order, the postconviction court clarified that it had granted relief on Grounds Three and Eight only, that it had summarily denied all the other grounds, and that it had vacated Anderson's convictions on all four counts. This appeal followed.

         Ineffective assistance of counsel claims present mixed questions of law and fact. Hitchcock v. State, 991 So.2d 337, 346 (Fla. 2008) (citing Sochor v. State, 883 So.2d 766, 771-72 (Fla. 2004)); Stephens v. State, 748 So.2d 1028, 1031-32 (Fla. 1999) (citing Rose v. State, 675 So.2d 567 (Fla. 1996)). Deference is given to the postconviction court's factual findings if they are supported by competent substantial evidence in the record. Hitchcock, 991 So.2d at 346 (citing Sochor, 883 So.2d at 771-72); State v. Coney, 845 So.2d 120, 132-33 (Fla. 2003) (citing Stephens, 748 So.2d at 1031-34). The postconviction court's legal conclusions and its application of the law to the facts are reviewed de novo. Hitchcock, 991 So.2d at 346 (citing Sochor, 883 So.2d at 771-72); Coney, 845 So.2d at 132-33 (citing Stephens, 748 So.2d at 1034).

         Defense counsel renders ineffective assistance of counsel "when counsel's performance falls outside the range of reasonable professional assistance and when there is a reasonable probability that the results of the proceeding would have been different but for the inadequate performance." Larry v. State, 61 So.3d 1205, 1207 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984)). This standard requires the defendant to show, first, that his trial counsel's performance was deficient such that it falls below the minimum standard of reasonableness set by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and, second, prejudice arising from that deficient performance. Morris v. State, 931 So.2d 821, 827-28 (Fla. 2006) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687).

         The attorney's performance is analyzed with great deference under an objective standard of reasonableness. Bradley v. State, 33 So.3d 664, 671 (Fla. 2010). An attorney's performance is constitutionally acceptable if the attorney renders reasonably competent and effective assistance. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687 (citing Trapnell v. United States, 725 F.2d 149, 151-52 (2d Cir. 1983)). Mistakes and errors made by counsel, including unreasonable errors, are not sufficient to set aside the judgment unless the error ...


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