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Andrews v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

May 2, 2017

U'DREKA ANDREWS, Petitioner,


         Petition for Writ of Certiorari - Original Jurisdiction.

          Michael Ufferman, Michael Ufferman Law Firm, P.A., Tallahasee; Crystal Mcbee Frusciante, Sunrise, for Petitioner.

          Roseanne Eckert, FIU College of Law, Miami, for Amicus Curiae Florida Juvenile Resentencing and Review Project; Whitney Untiedt, Akerman, LLP, Miami, for Amicus Curiae Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in support of Petitioner.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Charmaine M. Millsaps, Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Robert J. Morris, III, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Respondent.

          LEWIS, J.

         Petitioner, U'Dreka Andrews, petitions this Court for certiorari review of the trial court's order denying her "Motion for Leave to Submit Requests for Appointment of Experts and Costs Ex Parte and Under Seal and to Require the Justice Administrative Commission to File Any Responses to Such Motions Without Service to the State and Under Seal Where Such Responses Contain Substantive Information Pertaining to Ms. Andrews' Defense." We deny the petition because Petitioner failed to establish that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of the law. In light of the important policy issue, however, we certify a question of great public importance.

         In her motion, Petitioner alleged that she was convicted of first-degree felony murder, burglary, and robbery based on offenses she committed at the age of seventeen and she was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the murder. The Florida Supreme Court recently held that Petitioner is entitled to resentencing in conformance with Chapter 2014-220, Laws of Florida, the relevant provisions of which have been codified in sections 775.082, 921.1401, and 921.1402, Florida Statutes (2014). Petitioner has been found indigent and is represented by private counsel pro bono in the Miller[1] resentencing proceeding. In order to avoid revealing privileged information or work product to the State Attorney's Office, Petitioner requested permission to file all her motions for appointed experts and miscellaneous costs ex parte and under seal, with service to the Justice Administrative Commission ("JAC") and notice to the State Attorney's Office, and requested that the JAC be required to file all responses that may reveal substantive content relevant to her defense without service to the State and under seal. Petitioner also relied on the rights to effective assistance of counsel, due process, and equal protection, and she argued that she should not be prejudiced because she is represented by pro bono counsel and is indigent for costs and is entitled to the same due process and equal protection rights as similarly-situated defendants who are represented by private counsel or the Public Defender's Office and would not be required to divulge details to the prosecution regarding the hiring of experts. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order denying Petitioner's motion. This petition for writ of certiorari followed.

         To obtain a writ of certiorari, a petitioner must show that the challenged order constitutes a departure from the essential requirements of law, which results in material injury that cannot be remedied on appeal. Suarez v. Steward Enters., 164 So.3d 132, 134 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015). "[C]ertiorari relief is an 'extremely rare' remedy that will be provided in 'very few cases.'" Bd. of Trs. of Internal Improvement Tr. Fund v. Am. Educ. Enters., LLC, 99 So.3d 450, 455 (Fla. 2012) (quoting Martin-Johnson, Inc. v. Savage, 509 So.2d 1097 (Fla. 1987)). A ruling departs from the essential requirements of the law when it constitutes a violation of a clearly established principle of law resulting in a miscarriage of justice. State, Dep't of Revenue ex rel. Carnley v. Lynch, 53 So.3d 1154, 1156 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). Clearly established law may derive from controlling case law, rules of court, statutes, or constitutional law. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Kaklamanos, 843 So.2d 885, 890 (Fla. 2003). "[C]ertiorari jurisdiction cannot be used to create new law where the decision below recognizes the correct general law and applies the correct law to a new set of facts to which it has not been previously applied." Nader v. Fla. Dep't of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, 87 So.3d 712, 723 (Fla. 2012).

         Petitioner asserts that authority for the procedure she seeks is found in Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, which governs "public access to and protection of judicial branch records" and provides in part that "[t]he following records of the judicial branch shall be confidential:"

[c] (9) Any court record determined to be confidential in case decision or court rule on the grounds that (A) confidentiality is required to
(i) prevent a serious and imminent threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice;
. . . .
(vii) comply with established public policy set forth in the Florida or United States Constitution or statutes or ...

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