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Flowers v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

September 9, 2019

Bryan Flowers, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida,

         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 Duval County. Linda F. McCallum, Judge.

          Bryan Flowers, pro se, Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          Ray, C.J.

         Bryan Flowers appeals an order dismissing with prejudice his motion for postconviction relief filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, and a later order imposing sanctions. We affirm.

         In 2014, Flowers was convicted of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced as a habitual felony offender ("HFO") to fifty years in prison with a mandatory minimum of twenty years for the murder, and a consecutive thirty years with a mandatory minimum of three years for the firearm possession. This court upheld his conviction and sentence on direct appeal without opinion and mandate issued almost four years ago in 2015. Flowers v. State, 171 So.3d 704 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).

         The following month, Flowers filed a motion to correct illegal sentence under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) arguing that his consecutive mandatory minimum sentences were illegal. The denial of that motion was affirmed on appeal. Flowers v. State, 226 So.3d 816 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017). Flowers then filed his first motion for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 raising four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. After denying his request to amend or supplement that motion, the postconviction court denied his motion, and we affirmed that decision on appeal. Flowers v. State, 236 So.3d 1011 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017). Flowers next filed another 3.800(a) motion arguing that his consecutive HFO sentences were illegal. The postconviction court denied his motion because the same claim had been rejected in his first 3.800(a) motion but also explained why his claim lacked merit. We again affirmed the decision on appeal. Flowers v. State, 237 So.3d 482 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).

         One month after he filed his second 3.800(a) motion, Flowers filed a successive 3.850 motion raising the same claims he unsuccessfully tried to add to his first 3.850 motion. The postconviction court denied his motion as successive and issued a warning that if he continued to file frivolous, successive pro se motions, he would be referred to the Department of Corrections ("DOC") for the imposition of disciplinary proceedings under section 944.279(1), Florida Statutes, and he could also be prohibited from submitting pro se filings in the future. We affirmed that decision on appeal. Flowers v. State 253 So.3d 1068 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).

         Later in 2018, Flowers filed yet another successive 3.850 motion raising four new claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and a fifth claim related to his habitual traffic violations that had been raised and rejected twice before. The postconviction court dismissed his motion as untimely and successive, found that he had committed an abuse of judicial procedure by filing repetitive and frivolous postconviction motions, and ordered him to show cause why he should not be barred from further pro se filings in the instant case. In response, Flowers reargued his habitual traffic violations claim, and suggested the court issue a "strong warning" rather than impose sanctions on him because he is not trained in the law and relies on prison law clerks to help prepare his court filings. The court disagreed. It found that Flowers had abused the judicial process by filing frivolous claims, wasted the court's limited and valuable time, deprived other indigent petitioners of the opportunity to have their motions addressed in a timely manner, and proved that he had no intention of abiding by the court's decisions or heeding its warnings. The court then barred him from filing any further pro se pleadings in the instant case and referred him to prison officials for the imposition of disciplinary proceedings.

         Order Dismissing Postconviction Claims

         It is improper for a defendant to raise claims of ineffective assistance of counsel piecemeal by filing successive motions. Pope v. State, 702 So.2d 221, 223 (Fla. 1997). A second or successive rule 3.850 motion is an extraordinary pleading. As such, a court may dismiss the motion if it fails to allege new grounds and the prior decision was on the merits or, if new grounds are alleged, the court finds that the defendant's failure to raise those grounds in a prior motion was an abuse of process or there was no good cause for the failure to raise them previously. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850(h)(2). Additionally, ineffective assistance claims filed more than two years after the judgment and sentence become final are procedurally barred as untimely unless they fall within an exception to the two-year deadline. Martinez v. State, 265 So.3d 690, 692 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019).

         Here, Flowers's four new claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are untimely because they were raised more than two years after his conviction became final, and he has failed to show justification for not raising them in his initial 3.850 motion. Thus, they are procedurally barred. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850(b). His remaining ineffective assistance claim about his habitual traffic violations has already been raised twice and rejected by the courts, the first time on the merits. See Carroll v. State, 192 So.3d 525, 526-27 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (observing that prisoners waste valuable and limited court resources by filing successive postconviction claims that have already been addressed). For these reasons, we affirm the order dismissing his postconviction claims with prejudice.

         Order ...


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