AMANDA K. JACKSON, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Putnam County, Clyde E. Wolfe,
S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Nancy Ryan, Assistant Public
Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Kellie A.
Nielan, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for
Jackson appeals the denial of her motion for a new trial,
which was entered after she was convicted of leaving the
scene of a crash involving death. On appeal, Ms. Jackson
raises a number of issues, one of which requires reversal.
She argues that the trial court erred in failing to hold a
Richardson hearing after the State introduced an
admission into evidence that was not disclosed during
discovery. We agree and therefore reverse and remand for a
facts of this case are tragic. In 2010, a one-year-old child
was struck and killed by a vehicle while crawling in the
street. The child lived in the Silver Lakes Trailer Park with
his mother. Ms. Jackson was the manager of the trailer park
and lived there with her husband, Austin Jackson. Law
enforcement determined that the vehicle involved was a red
pickup truck but were unable to either locate the truck or
establish the identity of the driver.
than two years later, the Putnam County Sheriff's
Department received a tip that implicated Ms. Jackson as the
driver of the pickup truck that had struck and killed the
child. As a result, officers interviewed Ms. Jackson. The
interview took place at the Sheriff's Office and lasted
over two hours. For the first hour and a half, Ms. Jackson
either denied involvement or stated that she could not
remember what occurred that day. After the detective
interviewing Ms. Jackson suggested that witnesses had
identified her as the driver, she changed her story and
confessed to running over the child. No such witnesses
Jackson's confession was admitted into evidence and
published to the jury. Jackson's central defense theory
was that the confession had been obtained improperly: that
she was susceptible to coercion and that the resulting
confession was unreliable. As part of that defense, Ms.
Jackson called Dr. Gregory DeClue as a witness. Dr. DeClue is
a board-certified forensic psychologist who spent much of his
career working for law enforcement agencies and training
officers how to conduct and ensure the integrity of
interrogations. Dr. DeClue was highly critical of the
techniques used during the course of Ms. Jackson's
interrogation and suggested that the techniques employed were
susceptible to securing a false confession.
rebuttal, the State called Dr. William Meadows, who is also a
forensic psychologist. Dr. Meadows conducted an interview
with Ms. Jackson in preparation for his trial testimony. Ms.
Jackson's counsel was present for that evaluation. The
State asked Dr. Meadows whether Ms. Jackson stated that she
felt pressured to confess, and Dr. Meadows responded,
"She-she did indicate that she felt pressured, and she
made an interesting statement when I asked her about that.
She said she felt pressured because the detective knew that
[she] had done it." The defense immediately objected,
arguing that Ms. Jackson did not make that statement and Dr.
Meadows mischaracterized what she said during the evaluation.
The defense then moved for a mistrial, claiming that Dr.
Meadows's testimony amounted to the introduction of an
admission by Ms. Jackson, which the State had not disclosed
to the defense during discovery. The trial court denied Ms.
Jackson's motion for a mistrial, and she was subsequently
convicted as charged.
Jackson argues that the trial court erred in failing to
conduct a Richardson hearing to address the
defense's claim that the admission entered through Dr.
Meadows's testimony constituted a discovery violation.
While Ms. Jackson's counsel did not specifically request
such a hearing, the contemporaneous objection and motion for
mistrial were sufficient to apprise the trial court of the
necessity of conducting such an inquiry. See Rath v.
State, 627 So.2d 24, 25 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993).
content of Dr. Meadows's testimony about Ms Jackson's
statement during the interview was the equivalent of an
admission of guilt by Ms Jackson The presence of Ms
Jackson's attorney during the interview with Dr Meadows
did not negate the necessity for a Richardson hearing-defense
counsel argued that Ms Jackson never made any such admission
and that Dr Meadows mischaracterized her statement The State
did not provide the statement to the defense either in its
response to the demand for discovery or in a written report
from Dr Meadows The introduction of such a
previously undisclosed admission, particularly when the
validity of a confession to law enforcement was the crux of
the defense, cannot be minimized Therefore, the trial court
erred in failing to hold a Richardson hearing Due to the
significant and prejudicial nature of the testimony, we
cannot conclude that the trial court's failure to conduct
such an inquiry was harmless error in this case Accordingly,
we reverse and remand for a new trial