MARLON L. SAPP, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, John M. Harris,
L. Sapp, Orlando, pro se.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Douglas T.
Squire, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for
Sapp appeals an order prohibiting any future pro se filings
in the circuit court. We affirm the imposition of the order
but reverse and remand for a corrected order limited to
filings related to Sapp's current incarceration and
related judgment, conviction, and sentence.
serving a twenty-five-year prison sentence. Since his
incarceration, he has filed at least thirty-six pro se cases
against various defendants. The trial court issued an order
to show cause as to why Sapp should not be prohibited from
filing any further pro se pleadings in the thirty-six pending
cases and in any future cases seeking affirmative relief,
without representation by a Florida Bar certified attorney.
Sapp responded that it was not his intent to waste the
court's finite resources, he believed he had legitimate
bases for his claims, and his claims were not frivolous.
trial court proceeded to issue an "Order Barring
Plaintiff from Filing Pro Se Pleadings and Actions Seeking
Affirmative Relief in the Above Cases and Future Cases"
referencing the same thirty-six cases as the order to show
cause. The court found that Sapp's response to the order
to show cause lacked merit, his filings constituted an abuse
of procedure, and his claims were all "baseless as a
matter of law." The order also prohibited Sapp from
filing pro se pleadings in "any of his other cases which
have ever been pending" and in "any future cases in
which [Sapp] seeks affirmative relief as a plaintiff."
court's order prohibiting further pro se filings from a
litigant is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Brinson v.
State, 215 So.3d 1260, 1261 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017).
"When a pro se litigant files frivolous law suits or
pleadings in a lawsuit, the court has the authority to
restrain such a litigant from abusing the legal system and
prevent him from abusing, annoying, or harassing those
against whom such suits or pleadings have been filed."
Balch v. HSBC Bank, USA, N.A., 128 So.3d 179, 181
(Fla. 5th DCA 2013); see also Jackson v. Fla. Dep't
of Corr., 790 So.2d 398, 402 (Fla. 2001) ("[T]he
constitutional right of access to courts does not
'guarantee inmates the wherewithal to transform
themselves into litigating engines.'" (quoting
Jackson v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 790 So.2d 381,
387 (Fla. 2000))).
relies on Brinson to argue that the circuit
court's order was overbroad because it prohibits future
pro se filings unrelated to his current pending cases. 215
So.3d 1260. In Brinson, the defendant filed eight
postconviction collateral attacks to his judgment,
conviction, and sentence. Id. at 1261. This Court
held that it was within the trial court's discretion to
prohibit future pro se filings related to the defendant's
conviction and sentence, whether related to his criminal case
"or in any other case." Id. However, this
Court also held that the trial court abused its discretion in
issuing a blanket order prohibiting the defendant "from
filing any pro se pleadings, motions, or petitions in any
case in the Seventh Judicial Circuit, St. Johns County, even
if completely unrelated to" the defendant's
judgment, conviction, or sentence. Id. We concluded
that the order prohibiting further pro se filings was
overbroad, particularly because the order to show cause only
provided that the ban would apply to the defendant's
challenges to his conviction and sentence, and it did not
provide that it would apply in cases unrelated to his
criminal conviction. Id.
we recognize that the prohibition against further pro se
filings is a drastic step, the prohibition is warranted in
Sapp's case. Sapp has filed over thirty-six civil actions
against a host of defendants. The Florida Supreme Court has
held that it is sometimes appropriate to "sanction
petitioners who abuse the legal process by requiring them to
be represented by counsel in future actions." Lussy
v. Fourth Dist. Court of Appeal, 828 So.2d 1026, 1027
(Fla. 2002). This Court has also deemed it appropriate to
prohibit future pro se appeals and impose restraints on pro
se litigants "when one person, by his activities, upsets
the normal procedure of the court so as to interfere with the
causes of other litigants." Platel v. Maguire,
Voorhis & Wells, P.A., 436 So.2d 303, 304 (Fla. 5th
DCA 1983). Requiring representation by counsel in future
cases does not equate to the complete denial of access to
courts. Id. Additionally, such a restraint is within
the judiciary's "inherent power to prevent abuse of
court procedure." Id.
Sapp has filed numerous frivolous cases in the lower court,
the trial court properly exercised its "inherent power
to prevent abuse of court procedure" by prohibiting
further pro se filings in the circuit court. See id.
However, in accordance with Brinson, we reverse and
remand for correction of the order to limit the prohibition
to cases and causes of action relating to Sapp's current
incarceration and associated judgment, conviction, and
IN PART; REVERSED ...