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Rodgers v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

February 8, 2018

JEREMIAH M. RODGERS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

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

         An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Santa Rosa County, John F. Simon, Jr., Judge - Case No. 571998CF000274XXAXMX

          Billy H. Nolas, Chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Office of the Federal Public Defender, Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Charmaine M. Millsaps, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee

          Nancy G. Abudu, Daniel B. Tilley, and Jacqueline Nicole Azis of ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc., Miami, Florida,

          Amicus Curiae American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida, Inc.

          PER CURIAM.

         Jeremiah M. Rodgers, a prisoner under sentence of death who waived a penalty phase jury, appeals the circuit court's summary denial of a postconviction motion filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851 seeking sentencing relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 2161 (2017). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.[1]

         We have consistently held that the Hurst decisions do not apply to defendants, like Rodgers, who waive a penalty phase jury. See, e.g., Mullens v. State, 197 So.3d 16, 40 (Fla. 2016) (affirming the death sentence of a defendant who waived a penalty phase jury and explaining that a defendant "cannot subvert the right to jury factfinding by waiving that right and then suggesting that a subsequent development in the law has fundamentally undermined his sentence"), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 672 (2017); Brant v. State, 197 So.3d 1051, 1079 (Fla. 2016) (concluding that the Mullens Court's holding in the context of a direct appeal "necessarily preclude[s]" a defendant who waived a penalty phase jury from raising a Hurst claim on postconviction).

         Rodgers, however, seeks to avoid this result by attacking the waiver itself, arguing that an evidentiary hearing is required to determine if a recently diagnosed condition of gender dysphoria, which Rodgers contends existed at the time of the waiver, but went undiagnosed by prior evaluators, rendered Rodgers incompetent. We agree with the circuit court that the time for Rodgers to contest the prior competency determination has passed. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851(d)(1). This Court has long since affirmed Rodgers' waiver of a penalty phase jury, see Rodgers v. State, 3 So.3d 1127, 1131-33 (Fla. 2009), and Rodgers has not proffered any newly discovered evidence that would warrant revisiting the validity of this waiver. Cf. Raleigh v. State, 932 So.2d 1054, 1060 (Fla. 2006) (recognizing a "narrow exception to th[e] general procedural bar" of allowing an Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985)-type claim of inadequate mental health assistance that should have been raised on direct appeal to instead be raised on postconviction for only those cases involving "psychiatric examinations so grossly insufficient that they ignore clear indications of either mental retardation or organic brain damage") (quoting State v. Sireci, 502 So.2d 1221, 1224 (Fla. 1987)).

         Accordingly, we affirm the circuit court's summary denial.

         It is so ordered.

          LABARGA, CJ, and LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and ...


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