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Mansfield v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

September 15, 2017

HENRY MANSFIELD, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

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

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Desoto County; James S. Parker, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Matthew J. Salvia, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Donna S. Koch, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          SILBERMAN, Judge.

         Henry Mansfield seeks review of the order revoking his drug offender probation based on a new law violation of sale of a controlled substance. We reverse based on the trial court's failure to conduct an adequate preliminary Nelson[1] inquiry and a competency hearing. While a reversal on these issues renders Mansfield's vindictive sentence issue moot, the trial court's treatment of Mansfield based on their prior acquaintance is troubling. We therefore direct that the proceedings on remand be conducted by a different judge.

         1. Preliminary Nelson Inquiry

         While he was incarcerated pending the revocation hearing, Mansfield filed a pro se "Request/Grievance/Appeal Form" in which he stated:

Judge James S. Parker Let you know on the 7-8-15 Frank Ribel don't work on my case he is frie [sic]. No show Ribel for 9 months I saw Ribel about 4 time pluse [sic] I have not gone to court on my V.O.P I like to know what gonsing [sic] on about it thank you.

Defense counsel construed this as a request to discharge counsel and filed a "Notice of Nelson Faretta[2] Hearing" to have the request considered. At the hearing, it immediately became clear that the court was a long-time acquaintance of Mansfield. The court began the proceedings by asking, "And, Henry, what's this about you want to represent yourself?" Mansfield replied, "Well, my Nelson, I've been able to take—" before he was interrupted by the court.

The proceedings took a strange turn, and the following exchange occurred:

THE COURT: Now I've known you all your life.
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. I know it. I made-
THE COURT: You never did graduate from DeSoto High School, did you? Did you finally graduate?

THE DEFENDANT: Nope.

THE COURT: That's what I thought.
THE DEFENDANT: I walked down the, you know, walk.
THE COURT: And I remember when you was charged with cattle rustling-
THE DEFENDANT: Now that been a long time ago.
THE COURT: - of Bill DeShawn's (phonetic) cattle out on- or cow out on Highway 70, right?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. But you see defense-
THE COURT: Well, I just remember all those things, Henry.
THE DEFENDANT: If you find that-if you find that too, the caboot (phonetic) didn't match my gun, if you remember right.
THE COURT: You got what?
THE DEFENDANT: When they took the ballistic test, it was not my gun.
THE COURT: Oh, okay.
THE DEFENDANT: But I got (indiscernible) at ...

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