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Ziegler v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

November 1, 2019

Jamichea Ziegler, 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 Duval County. Mark Borello, Judge.

          Jamichea Ziegler, pro se, Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          Per Curiam.

         Jamichea Ziegler appeals an order dismissing his motion for postconviction relief with prejudice. Because Ziegler failed to comply with multiple court orders and Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850(d), we affirm.

         Two years after his 2014 conviction for attempted second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Ziegler filed his first motion for postconviction relief. He then filed two amended motions. He also moved twice for leave to exceed the 50-page limit on such motions set forth in rule 3.850(d). The court dismissed Ziegler's amended motions as facially insufficient for failing to comply with rule 3.850(d), and it denied his motions for leave to exceed the 50-page limit. However, Ziegler was granted leave to file an amended motion.

         Ziegler filed four more amended motions, raising 33 grounds for relief in the first motion, 32 grounds in the second, 33 grounds in the third, and 42 grounds in the fourth. The postconviction court found that the first three motions were voluntarily dismissed and dismissed the fourth motion for an insufficient oath. Still, the court granted Ziegler another chance to amend his postconviction motion pursuant to Spera v. State, 971 So.2d 754 (Fla. 2007). But the court included in its order a warning that Ziegler would not be permitted to write his motion in a way to defeat the 50-page limitation in rule 3.850(d), and that he should comply with the margin, line-spacing, and legibility requirements of the rule.

         Ziegler then moved to add an oath to his fourth postconviction motion that had been dismissed for lack of an oath. Ziegler indicated that he wanted to rely on the grounds raised in that motion. He declined the opportunity to file an amended motion or re-submit his previous motion.

         The court dismissed Ziegler's amended motion with prejudice as an abuse of process. The court found that Ziegler drafted the motion in a manner that violated the requirements for legibility, margins, line spacing, and page limits in rule 3.850(d). The rule requires motions to be "typewritten or hand-written in legible printed lettering, in blue or black ink, double-spaced, with margins no less than 1 inch on white 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper." Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850(d). It also provides that "[n]o motion, including any memorandum of law, shall exceed 50 pages without leave of the court upon a showing of good cause." Id.

         The Second District explained in Al-Hakim v. State, 87 So.3d 836, 838 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012), that a handwritten motion containing an excessive number of lines per page could be dismissed as illegible or, depending on the number of pages, as violative of the length limitations. The court further explained:

The clear intent of the amendment to rule 3.850(c)[1] was to relieve judges and their staffs from the burden of sifting through overlong and illegible motions. Before the amendment, the Fourth District in Ezer v. State, 10 So.3d 1175, 1177 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009), reviewed an "excessively lengthy motion" and declared that "a strict page limitation should be imposed on rule 3.850 motions." In the same vein, the Fourth District lamented that "[t]he laudable goals of post-conviction relief are lost when defendants abuse the process" by filing extremely long motions. Hedrick v. State, 6 So.3d 688, 691 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). By imposing a limit of fifty pages of specified size with explicit margins, the amendment tackled that problem. Like the margin requirement, double-spacing prevents evasion of the length limit by compression of an overlong motion into the required number of pages.

Id.

         Here, when it dismissed Ziegler's postconviction motion and granted leave to amend, the court specifically instructed Ziegler to write legibly, and comply with the page limit, margin, and line-spacing requirements of rule 3.850(d). Despite the court's order, Ziegler chose not to amend his motion. Instead, he relied on his earlier-filed motion that was 49 pages long and contained 42 grounds for relief. The handwritten text is very small and illegible at times. Each page typically includes 40-50 lines of text[2] and the margins throughout the motion are typically less than 1 inch.[3] If (Image Omitted) the motion had been drafted with the required margins and ...


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