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Taylor v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

December 6, 2017



         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Polk County; Wayne M. Durden, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Jean Marie Henne, Special Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Chelsea S. Alper, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         Antonio Taylor appeals his life sentence as a prison releasee reoffender for armed burglary of a dwelling. His sentence is reversed based on this court's opinion in Lewars v. State, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D1098 (Fla. 2d DCA May 12, 2017), pending review, No. SC17-1002, 2017 WL 4022360 (Fla. Sept. 13, 2017). Given the Florida Supreme Court's order staying the mandate and further proceedings in Lewars, the mandate in this case is likewise stayed pending disposition of the Lewars petition. See State v. Lewars, No. SC17-1002 (Fla. May 30, 2017) (order staying proceedings).

          SILBERMAN and SALARIO, JJ., Concur.

          BLACK, J, Concurs with opinion.

         As Lewars is the controlling precedent in this district, I concur in the reversal of Taylor's sentence and designation as a prison releasee reoffender. Both Lewars and this case present the issue of interpreting section 775.082(9)(a)(1), Florida Statutes, part of the Prison Releasee Reoffender Punishment Act (the Act). I write to express my agreement that resolution of the issue rests on a plain language analysis and my concerns with how this statute has been interpreted in view of that analysis.

         Taylor, like Lewars, has asked this court to interpret the following language: " 'Prison releasee reoffender' means any defendant who commits, or attempts to commit [an enumerated offense] within 3 years after being released from a state correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections or a private vendor . . . ." § 775.082(9)(a)(1). Taylor contends that he does not qualify as a prison releasee reoffender (PRR) because he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on his prior conviction and was given credit for time served, resulting not in a transfer to a Department of Corrections (DOC) prison where he might otherwise have served his prison sentence but in his physical release from the county jail.[1] At the time Taylor was sentenced, the First, Fourth, and Fifth Districts had addressed the issue. See State v. Wright, 180 So.3d 1043 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015); Taylor v. State, 114 So.3d 355 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013); Louzon v. State, 78 So.3d 678 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). The defendants in Wright and Louzon were similarly situated to Taylor: they had each been convicted of a felony, sentenced to a prison term, committed to the custody of the DOC, and ordered to be delivered to the DOC, but released from DOC custody by directive of the DOC and physically released from a county jail by directive of the DOC because of jail credit accumulated during the pendency of their respective cases.[2] Wright, 180 So.3d at 1045-46; Louzon, 78 So.3d at 680. The defendant in Taylor had been convicted of a federal crime and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a federal correctional facility but was released from federal custody while housed at the county jail. Taylor, 114 So.3d at 355-56. In all three cases, the courts determined that the defendants qualified as PRRs. Relying on those cases, the trial court in our case sentenced Taylor as a PRR on the armed burglary of a dwelling conviction. The legality of his sentence as a PRR is the only issue Taylor has raised in this appeal.

         Whether a defendant qualifies as a PRR under the language of the Act is a question of statutory interpretation. Lewars, 42 Fla.L.Weekly at D1099. When considering an unambiguous statute, courts are not permitted to construe the statutory language "in a way which would extend, modify, or limit, its express terms or its reasonable and obvious implications. To do so would be an abrogation of legislative power." Holly v. Auld, 450 So.2d 217, 219 (Fla. 1984) (quoting Am. Bankers Life Assurance Co. of Fla. v. Williams, 212 So.2d 777, 778 (Fla. 1st DCA 1968)).[3] This principle "reflects the constitutional obligation of the judiciary to respect the separate powers of the legislature." State v. Brigham, 694 So.2d 793, 797 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997).

         "When a term is undefined by statute, '[o]ne of the most fundamental tenets of statutory construction' requires that we give a statutory term 'its plain and ordinary meaning.' " Rollins v. Pizzarelli, 761 So.2d 294, 298 (Fla. 2000) (alteration in original) (quoting Green v. State, 604 So.2d 471, 473 (Fla. 1992)). However, "in considering the meaning of particular words and phrases, courts must also distinguish between terms of art that may have specialized meanings and other words that are ordinarily given a dictionary definition." OB/GYN Specialists of Palm Beaches, P.A. v. Mejia, 134 So.3d 1084, 1088 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014); see also Crews v. Fla. Pub. Emp'rs Council 79, AFSCME, 113 So.3d 1063, 1069 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) ("[C]ourts should give words in a statute their ordinary and everyday meaning unless the context reveals that a technical meaning applies." (citing State v. Brown, 412 So.2d 426, 428 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982))). Here, related statutory provisions define the relevant terms. See, e.g., Hopkins v. State, 105 So.3d 470, 472-73 (Fla. 2012) (applying definitions from chapter 985 when interpreting section 784.082, Florida Statutes (2007), to determine whether a "detention facility" as used in section 784.082 included juvenile detention centers).

         The Act requires that a defendant previously have been "released from a state correctional facility operated by the [DOC]." § 775.082(9)(a)(1). Thus, the phrase "state correctional facility" is of primary importance to the question presented by this case and by Lewars. And although Lewars focuses on the definition of "facility, " the statute is specific to a "state correctional facility, " making the entire phrase the plain language which we must apply. "State correctional facility" is a term of art not defined within the Act; however, the definitions section of the State Correctional System chapter defines "state correctional institution" as "any prison, road camp, prison industry, prison forestry camp, or any prison camp or prison farm or other correctional facility, temporary or permanent, in which prisoners are housed, worked, or maintained, under the custody and jurisdiction of the [DOC]." § 944.02(8), Fla. Stat. (2016) (emphasis added). "State prison" is defined by section 944.08(1) "as a place of confinement or punishment for a crime" to "be construed to mean and refer to the custody of the Department of Corrections within the state correctional system." (Emphasis added.) A state correctional facility, as used in the Act, would then be a state correctional institution under the applicable definition; the words are interchangeable for definitional purposes here. See also § 775.082(9)(a)(2) (including releasees from "correctional institution[s] of . . . the United States" and further establishing that facility and institution are interchangeable for definitional purposes); § 944.09(1)(e) ("The [DOC] has authority to adopt rules . . . relating to . . . the operation and management of the correctional institution or facility and its personnel and functions." (emphasis added)). Thus, in pertinent part, a "state correctional facility operated by the [DOC]" means a prison or "other correctional facility" in which "prisoners are housed . . . under the custody and jurisdiction of the department." See §§ 775.082(9)(a)(1), 944.02(8).

         In turn, "prisoner" is defined to include "any person committed to or detained in any municipal or county jail or state prison, prison farm, or penitentiary, or to the custody of the [DOC] pursuant to lawful authority." § 944.02(6) (emphasis added); see also § 944.17(1) ("Each prisoner sentenced to the state penitentiary shall be committed by the court to the custody of the [DOC]."); § 945.42(7), Fla. Stat. (2016) (" 'Inmate' means any person committed to the custody of the [DOC]"). Thus, it is a person's status of being under the jurisdiction and custody of the DOC that defines prisoner. "State correctional facility" must then include both prison buildings as well as other correctional facilities housing prisoners under the custody and control of the DOC. Cf. Garner v. State, 839 So.2d 924, 925-26 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (concluding that legislative intent and statutory terms did not equate Jimmy Ryce facilities with correctional facilities for purposes of PRR ...

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