final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. James Daniel
and Jack Schemer, Judges.
Thomas, Public Defender, and Kathryn Lane and Jasmine
Russell, Assistant Public Defenders, Tallahassee, for
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Samuel B. Steinberg, Holly N.
Simox, and Daniel Krumbholz, Assistant Attorneys General,
Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Bell was charged in three separate cases with three separate
burglaries. He had three separate trials and got three
separate guilty verdicts. He then filed three separate
motions for new trial, each raising the same two arguments:
(1) that the trial court erred in denying motions for
judgment of acquittal and (2) that the verdict was contrary
to the weight of the evidence. The presiding judges denied
the motions, discussing only the sufficiency-of-the-evidence
arguments. In his three appeals, which we consolidate for
disposition, Bell argues that the judges erred by applying
the wrong legal standard. We review this issue de novo.
See Fergien v. State, 79 So.3d 907, 908 (Fla. 2d DCA
for judgment of acquittal and motions for new trial are
decided under different standards. Compare Fla. R.
Crim. P. 3.380(a) (directing a court to enter a judgment of
acquittal in response to a defense motion when "the
court is of the opinion that the evidence is insufficient to
warrant a conviction") with Fla. R. Crim. P.
3.600(a)(2) (directing a court to grant a new trial if
"[t]he verdict is contrary to law or the weight of the
evidence"). While the former tests the sufficiency of
the evidence, the latter requires the trial court to weigh
the evidence and determine credibility just as a juror would.
See Fergien, 79 So.3d at 908. This Court has
previously reversed the denial of a new-trial motion when the
trial court applied, or appeared to apply, the wrong legal
standard. See Palmer v. State, 196 So.3d 1289 (Fla.
1st DCA 2016) (reversing after trial court applied a
sufficiency-of-the-evidence standard instead of
weight-of-the-evidence standard); Spear v. State,
860 So.2d 1080 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003) (reversing because
"the trial court's findings indicate that the court
may have applied" the incorrect standard).
there is nothing to indicate the trial judges applied the
wrong standard. Bell raised both sufficiency-of-the-evidence
and weight-of-the-evidence arguments in his new-trial
motions. While the judges' oral rulings only addressed
the standard for the sufficiency arguments, it does not
follow that the judges applied the sufficiency standard to
the weight-of-the-evidence arguments. Cf. Adams v.
State, 417 So.2d 826, 828 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982)
("Although the motion for new trial raised the weight of
the evidence issue, the order denying the motion is worded in
such a way as to indicate the trial court may have limited
itself to the sufficiency of evidence standard."). The
judges had separate legal issues before them, and the record
does not suggest that they applied the same standard to both.
In other words, Bell has not met his burden to demonstrate
error on appeal.
Osterhaus and Winsor, JJ, concur Wolf, J., dissents with
agree that reversal is not required if a trial judge rules on
a motion for new trial and "there is nothing [in the
record] to indicate the trial judge applied the wrong
standard, " here it is at the very least unclear what
standard the trial court used. In such cases reversal and
remand for clarification are required by precedent. See,
e.g., Adams v. State, 417 So.2d 826, 828 (Fla. 1st DCA
1982) (reversing where the order denying the motion for new
trial was "worded in such a way as to indicate the trial
court may have limited itself to the sufficiency of
evidence standard") (emphasis added).
case, appellant made a motion for a new trial, arguing: (1)
the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence; and
(2) the court erred in denying ...