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Robinson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 28, 2018

Donald Robinson, 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 for Leon County. Robert R. Wheeler, Judge.

          Candice Brower, Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Region One, and Michael J. Titus, Assistant Regional Conflict Counsel, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Sharon S. Traxler, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          WOLF, J.

         Appellant challenges his criminal judgment and sentence, arguing the trial court failed to memorialize in writing its initial determination that he was competent to proceed and failed to conduct a hearing or make an independent determination when his competency was later questioned. The State concedes error on both points. We reverse and remand.

         Facts

         In 2015, the trial court found appellant was incompetent and committed him to the Department of Children and Families to be placed in a mental health treatment facility. On March 15, 2016, the trial court found appellant was competent to proceed. However, the court failed to enter a written order memorializing this finding.

         On April 15, 2016, defense counsel expressed concern about appellant's competency and asked the court to order a new evaluation. The court ordered an evaluation.

         On May 24, 2016, the court accepted a nolo contendere plea from appellant. As to the competency issue, defense counsel stated, "Your Honor ordered an evaluation. It came back competent to proceed." The court responded, "Okay."

         On July 26, 2016, appellant moved to withdraw his plea, alleging without elaboration that his counsel was ineffective. The court denied the motion, finding ineffective assistance of counsel was not one of the enumerated grounds for withdrawing a plea pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l).

         Analysis

         The trial court erred with regards to both determinations of competency.

         First, the trial court erred by failing to enter a written order memorializing its oral finding that appellant was competent to proceed on March 15, 2016. A written order is required. Flowers v. State, 143 So.3d 459 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) (citing Fla. R. Crim.P. 3.212(b)). We remand for the trial court ...


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