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Morgan v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

July 3, 2019

Javarus Lamont Morgan, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.141(b)(2) from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 01-21587B, Alan S. Fine, Judge.

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Jonathan Greenberg, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Richard L. Polin, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before SALTER, FERNANDEZ and LINDSEY, JJ.

          SALTER, J.

         Javarus Lamont Morgan ("Morgan") appeals an order denying two motions to correct illegal sentence pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a). This is the third time this Court has considered one of the two issues raised by Morgan, the so-called "stacking" of minimum mandatory sentences under the 10-20-life statute when a firearm is possessed but not discharged. See Morgan v. State, 137 So.3d 1075 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014), decision quashed, 42 Fla.L.Weekly S680 (Fla. May 26, 2017); and Morgan v. State, 233 So.3d 1194 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) ("Morgan II").

         After the remand by the Florida Supreme Court, Morgan II reversed the prior trial court order denying Morgan's motion on that issue. We remanded the case to the trial court to permit Morgan to file an amended motion "for the purpose of affirmatively alleging and establishing 'that the court records demonstrate on their face an entitlement to relief' on the claim raised in Morgan's original motion." Morgan II, 233 So.3d at 1195.

         Morgan amended his motion to correct illegal sentence in February 2018, raising two legal issues in two separate motions under Rule 3.800, and attaching documents from the record in the criminal case (including Morgan's 2003 plea). In the first motion, Morgan contended that the criminal case record established that his two consecutive minimum mandatory sentences under the 10-20-life statute[1] were illegal under Walton v. State, 208 So.3d 60 (Fla. 2016), and Williams v. State, 186 So.3d 989 (Fla. 2016). These cases hold that "[g]enerally, consecutive sentencing of mandatory minimum imprisonment terms for multiple firearm offenses is impermissible if the offenses arose from the same criminal episode and a firearm was merely possessed but not discharged." Williams, 186 So.3d at 993.

         In the second amended motion under Rule 3.800, Morgan claimed entitlement to a new sentencing hearing under Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), and applicable Florida precedent following Graham. It is undisputed that Morgan received a sentence exceeding 20 years for non-homicide crimes committed when Morgan was a juvenile.

         The trial court heard the motions during three separate sessions in 2018. In November 2018, the trial court entered a closely-reasoned, seven-page order denying both motions.[2] This appeal followed.

         Analysis: Williams Motion

         "Whether a claim of error may be raised in a motion to correct illegal sentence under rule 3.800(a) is a pure question of law subject to de novo review." Martinez v. State, 211 So.3d 989, 991 n.4 (Fla. 2017).

         As required by the text of Rule 3.800 and the decisional law applying it, the trial court acknowledged that its evaluation of the Williams motion was restricted to a review of "the non-hearsay portion of the court records to determine if they establish whether the two offenses for which the consecutive minimum mandatory sentences were imposed were part of a single criminal episode." (citing Burgess v. State, 831 So.2d 137 (Fla. 2002)). In an effort to demonstrate that the two offenses were part of a single criminal episode, Morgan's amended motion relied on the discovery depositions of the two victims. These were not trial transcripts (there was no ...


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