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Catledge v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 28, 2018

Minor Clinton Catledge, Jr., Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court of Bradford County. Richard B. Davis, Jr., Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and John J. Knowles, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Jason W. Rodriguez, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          ROWE, J.

         Minor Clinton Catledge, Jr. challenges his sentence for false imprisonment, asserting that the trial judge violated his due process rights by basing his sentence on his lack of remorse and failure to accept responsibility. We disagree and affirm. In seeking mitigation of his sentence, Catledge injected the issue of remorse into the proceedings, and the trial court was permitted to consider all factors relevant to mitigation, including Catledge's remorse or lack thereof.

         Facts

         Catledge was charged with false imprisonment and battery on a person 65 years of age or older. The charges arose from an incident involving Catledge's 73-year-old mother-in-law, Annie Smith. At trial, the jury heard conflicting versions of the incident: Smith claimed Catledge grabbed her, pushed her onto her bed, and forced himself on top of her for approximately 15 minutes; Catledge explained that he was checking Smith's water heater when he slipped, fell onto the edge of bed where Smith was sitting, and was unable to stand up immediately due to his back injury. The jury acquitted Catledge of the battery charge, but found him guilty of false imprisonment.

         Before sentencing, the trial court ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI). At the sentencing hearing, the State informed the court that Catledge scored a total of 36 points for the false imprisonment charge. The lowest permissible sentence was a term of probation, the highest 5 years' imprisonment. The State asked the court to impose the highest possible sentence, arguing Smith had lost her sense of security and required protection from Catledge. The State presented one witness, Catledge's brother-in-law, who testified about the impact the incident had on Smith's life and how Smith feared Catledge would retaliate against her once he was released from jail. Smith was at the hearing but declined to make a statement.

         After a lengthy discussion of what the court described as "mitigating explanations," Catledge's attorney requested the court withhold adjudication and sentence Catledge to time served. He indicated that Catledge would be agreeable to conditions such as the entry of a no-contact order or completion of an anger management course. He pointed to inconsistences in Smith's trial testimony. He argued that the incident giving rise to the charges did not involve violence and emphasized that Catledge had no prior felony convictions. He presented the testimony of Catledge's wife (Smith's daughter), who testified Catledge was not a violent person and was not a danger to her mother.

         Catledge elected to make a statement on his own behalf. He initially maintained that he never touched Smith and revealed that he intended to sue her for libel and slander. He also made statements reasonably interpreted as threats against his brother-in-law, who he believed had lied to the court. The sentencing court cautioned Catledge against such statements, noting he was currently before the court for sentencing on a violent crime. When asked if he had anything else to say, Catledge responded "I'm sorry she's upset. I'm sorry this all happened. I wish I'd of never went over there to help her. . . . I honestly do. I mean, this is - this is - I just don't know what to say."

         The court then questioned Catledge about two incidents listed on his PSI, including a 2014 incident during which Catledge had become "loud, argumentative, rude and hostile" with a clerk at the Wakulla County Clerk's office. Catledge denied being hostile and explained he was upset over what he perceived was an unfair speeding ticket and late fee. During this exchange with the court, Catledge offered an explanation about his separate, 10-year-old conviction for misdemeanor stalking and claimed he was wrongfully accused.

         After hearing testimony from the witnesses and arguments from counsel, the sentencing court indicated it was contemplating a mixed sentence involving a probationary term and an anger management course, with incarceration as a reinforcement. The State opposed:

[STATE]: Your Honor, I think that for the safety of this particular victim, how she feels, that prison ...

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