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Ruiz v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

February 13, 2018

David Ruiz, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         On Motion for Review from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No. 15-17145, Stacy D. Glick, Judge.

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Jeffrey Paul DeSousa, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Christina L. Dominguez, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before SALTER, EMAS and FERNANDEZ, JJ.

          ON MOTION TO REVIEW ORDER DENYING POST-TRIAL RELEASE

          EMAS, J.

         David Ruiz seeks review of the trial court's order denying his motion for supersedeas bond.[1] We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion for supersedeas bond without proper consideration of the principles established in Younghans v. State, 90 So.2d 308 (Fla. 1956) and later formalized in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.691. We reverse the trial court's order denying bond, and remand with instructions to immediately reconsider Ruiz's motion for supersedeas bond and, if appropriate, to set reasonable conditions of release pending appeal.

         Ruiz was arrested in August 2015 and charged with, inter alia, three felonies: two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting an officer with violence. Ruiz was released pretrial on bond and remained out of custody on pretrial release without incident for more than two years during the pendency of the prosecution. Ruiz alleged, without dispute from the State, that during this two-year period he attended court on each occasion his appearance was required and did not violate any conditions of his pretrial release.

         On November 28, 2017, following a jury trial, Ruiz was convicted of one count of battery on a law enforcement officer, one count of simple battery, and one count of resisting an officer with violence. Following the verdict, the trial court permitted Ruiz to remain out of custody and on house arrest pending sentencing, scheduled to be held two months later. While awaiting sentencing, Ruiz appeared in court on three separate occasions as directed, and did not violate any conditions of his post-trial/pre-sentencing release. During this time Ruiz asserts that he also completed an anger management course and attended alcoholics anonymous several times per week.

         In advance of the sentencing hearing, Ruiz submitted to a forensic psychological examination. The psychologist noted Ruiz was cooperative, mild-mannered and respectful. At the conclusion of his examination and evaluation, the psychologist indicated that Ruiz presented a low probability of future violence, low probability of serious physical harm, and low risk on both the clinical and future risk management scales.

         A sentencing hearing was held on January 25, 2018, where the defense requested a sentence of probation. Judge Stacy Glick sentenced Ruiz to 364 days in the Dade County Jail. In imposing this sentence, the trial judge noted that Ruiz was neither a danger to the community nor likely to reoffend. The trial judge also denied Ruiz's previously-filed motion for new trial, which raised eight separate errors, each of which Ruiz contended warranted a new trial. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Ruiz was taken into custody and the trial court appointed the Office of the Public Defender to represent Ruiz on appeal. The following day, counsel filed a motion for supersedeas bond.

         The hearing on the motion for supersedeas bond was held on February 1, 2018. Following that hearing, Judge Glick entered an order denying the motion and adopted, as her basis for so ruling, the contemporaneous oral findings she made at the February 1 hearing. The transcript of that hearing reveals the following findings made by the trial judge as the basis for denying the motion:

The reason that you're still there [in custody] is because the jury found you guilty. You were facing up to 11 years in state prison. My initial sentence was going to be higher than I gave you 364 [days in jail--] based on the wishes of the officers. [The officers] believe that you should have gotten more. I did not give you the maximum. I didn't even give you close to the max. I gave you 364. You asked me why you're here. I heard the facts of the case and that's why you're here. You were found guilty. At this time I am going to deny the motion for supersedeas bond.

         It would appear, from the statements made by the trial judge, that she denied the motion for bond pending appeal for two reasons: (1) the jury found Ruiz guilty; and (2) she already gave Ruiz a "break" by sentencing him to only 364 days in the Dade County Jail, a sentence well below the statutory maximum and less than the sentence requested by the police officers in this case.

         We will not belabor the point that neither of these findings serves as a proper basis to deny a motion for bond pending appeal. Indeed, and as Ruiz's motion for review cogently observes, the first "reason" necessarily applies to every single defendant requesting a supersedeas bond. Were they not already found guilty they would not be seeking a bond pending appeal. As to the second "reason, " we presume that the trial judge fashioned a sentence she determined to be appropriate given the circumstances of the case and the background of the defendant. There is simply no support for the proposition that, because the trial judge's sentence was below the maximum, or less ...


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