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Burgess v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

May 9, 2018

RAYQUAN BURGESS, 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; Jack S. Cox, Judge; L.T. Case No. 50-2015-CF-011136-AXXX-MB.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Erika Follmer, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Luke R. Napodano, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Damoorgian, J.

         Rayquan Burgess appeals his conviction and sentence for one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Although Appellant raises several issues on appeal, we find merit in only one of his arguments, namely that the trial court erroneously denied two of his cause challenges during jury selection.

         During voir dire, defense counsel told the prospective jurors that Appellant was a convicted felon and asked whether they would still be able to deliberate without knowing more about the felony conviction. The following colloquy ensued with prospective juror 1.7:

[1.7]: I know it has nothing to do with it. I know it's irrelevant to the case but my gut curiosity. . . . It doesn't affect the case. I understand.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: You want to know, right, but if you didn't know do you think you would still be able to deliberate and make a decision?
[1.7]: Yes. I think the problem for me in my honest opinion if he's been convicted of a felony already and then where there's smoke there's fire. It's almost like I know we have to prove that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But just that notion that something has already happened in the past, which I don't like that but that's just what -

. . .

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: I'm going to reduce what you said down to something. Let me know if this is accurate, okay. I don't want to put words in your mouth. It sounds to me what you're saying is if we have a trial with someone who's never had any criminal exposure to the system - this whole presumption of innocence thing I would be able to do it 100 percent. But when I find out that someone has a felony conviction it makes it more difficult for me to presume them 100 [percent] innocent at the start of trial?
[1.7]: Yes, it would make it more difficult than - right.

         Towards the end of voir dire, defense counsel asked the prospective jurors whether Appellant's prior felony conviction would weigh into their deliberation when assessing whether the State had met its burden of proof. Prospective juror 1.7 answered that it would "probably affect [his] decision." Defense counsel thereafter attempted to clarify prospective juror 1.7's response by asking "[y]ou think it would affect your decision? You know it's not supposed to, but it ...


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