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Hill v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

April 25, 2018

HARVEY MICHAEL HILL, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Dina A. Keever-Agrama, Judge; L.T. Case No. 09CF006916AMB.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Ian Seldin, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Melanie Dale Surber, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          KLINGENSMITH, JUDGE.

         Appellant Harvey Hill appeals his sentence entered after a violation of probation ("VOP") hearing by raising four issues on appeal. First, whether the trial court abused its discretion by failing to permit appellant to reopen his case after both parties had delivered their closing arguments. Second, whether the trial court failed to conduct an adequate Faretta inquiry when he asked to fire his attorney. Third, whether the trial court erred in denying appellant opportunities to make arguments on his own behalf at sentencing following the violation hearing. And fourth, whether a successor judge properly filed a written probation revocation order and denied appellant's rule 3.800(b)(2) motion based on rulings by a prior judge who had previously recused herself sua sponte. We affirm as to issues one and two without comment, but find that issue three has merit. We reverse for new sentencing on that ground, thus making the fourth issue moot.

         At the end of his VOP hearing and following the close of the evidence and closing arguments, appellant was granted the right to discharge his attorney. He conducted the remainder of the hearing pro se, but with standby counsel available. While proceeding pro se, appellant made several requests to present additional evidence to the court, but the trial judge denied those requests.

         Thereafter, as the court attempted to orally pronounce its ruling, appellant interrupted and made an ore tenus motion to disqualify the trial judge. This motion was also denied.

         Then, without fully declaring its ruling on the VOP, the court asked for recommended sentences. The State recommended fifteen years in prison with credit for time served. Soon after, the following exchange occurred:

[THE STATE]: And Judge, actually I'm sorry, did you make findings in relations to the violations? I think you asked for --
THE COURT: I haven't yet; I'm getting ready to do that.
[THE STATE]: Okay.
[APPELLANT]: Well, I would like to speak on my ...

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