final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower
Tribunal No. 99-15813 Alberto Milian, Judge.
J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Susan S. Lerner, Assistant
Public Defender, for appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Asad Ali, Assistant Attorney
General, for appellee.
SALTER, LOGUE and HENDON, JJ.
an appeal from a final judgment of conviction and sentence
following the defendant's entry of pleas of guilt. The
sole issue before us is whether the trial court erred in
adjudicating the defendant, Jorge Nolasco, mentally competent
was indicted in 1999 for one count of first-degree murder,
two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of
unlawful possession of a firearm while engaged in a criminal
offense, and one count of discharging a firearm from a
vehicle. His defense counsel moved for a competency
evaluation, and Nolasco was ruled incompetent in 2001.
Pursuant to section 916.13, Florida Statutes (2001) and
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.212(c), Nolasco was
remanded to the Florida Department of Children and Families
for treatment in a secure residential facility for the
2002 and 2016, Nolasco was assessed for restoration to
competency to proceed in the pending criminal case, on
several separate occasions and by several mental health
professionals. Following the trial court's review of the
conflicting evidence at the competency hearings during that
interval, Nolasco remained in treatment.
January 2017, the trial court ordered further evaluations.
Two professionals found Nolasco competent, while one was
unable to reach a conclusion (based on Nolasco's refusal
to participate in the evaluation). The trial court found
Nolasco competent to proceed. Nolasco's counsel requested
further evaluation, which the trial court authorized in July
2017; both experts rendered reports finding Nolasco
criminal case was prepared for trial in April 2018,
Nolasco's counsel requested a further competency
evaluation, which the trial court authorized. One mental
health expert reported that Nolasco likely was competent, but
did not rule out the possibility that Nolasco was suffering
from a major psychiatric illness. A second expert concluded
that Nolasco was competent to proceed. Defense counsel
requested a third evaluation, which was authorized by the
trial court, and that evaluation was conducted in the
courtroom. The expert concluded that Nolasco was competent.
trial court entered an order finding Nolasco competent to
proceed, and trial commenced the following day. After jury
selection, Nolasco entered a guilty plea to the reduced
charge of second-degree murder on one count, and a guilty
plea to the remaining counts. This appeal followed.
analyzing a competency determination on appeal, this Court
applies the competent, substantial evidence standard of
review. In other words, a trial court's determination of
competency supported by competent, substantial evidence will
not be disturbed on appeal." Huggins v. State,
161 So.3d 335, 344 (Fla. 2014). Moreover, when (as here)
expert testimony regarding a defendant's competency is
conflicting, "this Court ...