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Hamilton v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

February 8, 2018

RICHARD EUGENE HAMILTON, 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 Hamilton County, David William Fina, Judge - Case No. 241994CF000150CFAXMX

          Robert S. Friedman, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Karin L. Moore and Stacy R. Biggart, Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Northern Region, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Jennifer L. Keegan, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee

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

          Amicus Curiae The Capital Habeas Unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Florida

          PER CURIAM.

         Richard Eugene Hamilton, a prisoner under sentence of death, appeals the circuit court's orders summarily denying his successive motion for postconviction relief, which was filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851, and his demands for additional public records, which were filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.852. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Hamilton was convicted of the 1994 first-degree murder, armed sexual battery, armed robbery, and armed kidnapping of Carmen Gayheart. Hamilton v. State, 703 So.2d 1038, 1040 (Fla. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 956 (1998). We affirmed Hamilton's convictions and sentence of death on direct appeal. Id. at 1045. We thereafter affirmed the denial of his initial motion for postconviction relief and denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Hamilton v. State, 875 So.2d 586, 589 (Fla. 2004).

         Between January and April 2016, Hamilton filed demands for additional public records under rule 3.852(i) relating to his representation by predecessor postconviction counsel and the judicial candidacy and tenure as a circuit court judge of the Honorable E. Vernon Douglas, who oversaw Hamilton's trial and initial postconviction proceedings. The postconviction court concluded that Hamilton's demands for these additional public records were "of questionable relevance and unlikely to lead to discoverable evidence" and denied the requests.

         On June 6, 2016, Hamilton filed a petition in this Court for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that he was entitled to relief under the United States Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016). We denied the habeas petition on March 3, 2017, citing Asay v. State, 210 So.3d 1, 22 (Fla. 2016) (holding that Hurst does not apply retroactively to sentences of death that became final before the Supreme Court issued its 2002 decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002)), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 41 (2017). Hamilton v. Jones, No. SC16-984, 2017 WL 836807, at *1 (Fla. Mar. 3, 2017).

         On August 24, 2016, while Hamilton's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was still pending in this Court, Hamilton filed a successive postconviction motion in the circuit court. In his successive motion, Hamilton argued that (1) he is entitled to a new postconviction proceeding due to the institutional failure of the trial court, the State, and the Florida Supreme Court that resulted in a violation of his state and federal constitutional rights and (2) his death sentence is unconstitutional under Hurst v. Florida. The postconviction court summarily denied the successive motion, concluding that it was "untimely as it was submitted eighteen years after the mandate issued and that none of the three articulated exceptions [in rule 3.851] apply." Hamilton now appeals the denial of his successive postconviction motion and the denial of his demands for additional public records.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Successive Motion

         A motion for postconviction relief must be filed within one year of the date the defendant's conviction and sentence become final. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851(d)(1). Hamilton's convictions and sentences became final when the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review of the direct appeal proceedings on June 26, 1998. Hamilton v. Florida, 524 U.S. 956 (1998); see Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851(d)(1)(B) ("For the purposes of this rule, a judgment is final . . . on the disposition of the petition ...


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