appeal from the Circuit Court for Escambia County. Jan
Thomas, Public Defender, Barbara J. Busharis, Assistant
Public Defender, and Kasey Lacey, Assistant Public Defender,
Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Damaris E. Reynolds, Assistant
Attorney General, and Jennifer J. Moore, Assistant Attorney
General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
and Winokur, JJ., concur; Bilbrey, J., specially concurs with
J., specially concurring.
Appellant challenges the judgment and sentence following his
no contest plea to trafficking in cocaine and lesser drug
charges. I agree that we are correct to affirm because we
cannot reach the issue of whether the trial court committed
error in refusing to unseal the affidavit in support of the
search warrant which led to the discovery of the drugs.
See Fla. R. App. P. 9.140(b)(2)(A) (listing the
limited situations where a defendant can appeal following a
guilty or no contest plea). I write in hope of providing
guidance to trial courts regarding the sealing of affidavits
in support of search warrants and to defendants when
confronted with a trial courts refusal to unseal an
search warrant was issued on December 21, 2017, to allow the
Escambia County Sheriffs Office (ECSO) to search a
residence. The search warrant was based on an
affidavit that purportedly established probable cause for the
search. See Art. I, § 12, Fla. Const.; § § 933.02,
933.04, & 933.18, Fla. Stat. (2017). The search warrant
directed that the affidavit was to be sealed and held in the
custody of the ECSO. Upon execution of the warrant, Appellant
was discovered in the residence along with cocaine and
various other evidence of drug trafficking. Appellant was
arrested and charged with the offenses that led to his plea.
through counsel, filed a notice of discovery. See
Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.220(a). As part of its obligation in
response to the notice, the State should have disclosed and
allowed Appellant to copy "any documents relating"
to "any search or seizure." Fla. R. Crim. P.
3.200(b)(1)(I). This obligation includes disclosing the
documents supporting the issuance of the search warrant.
State v. Wooten, 260 So.3d 1060, 1066 (Fla. 4th DCA
2018) (holding that the application for issuance of a search
warrant must be provided to a defendant as part of
the State provided discovery exhibits that did not include
the affidavit, Appellant moved to unseal the affidavit filed
in support of the warrant. Appellants motion alleged the
"States entire case is based upon the execution of the
search warrant" and it was necessary to view the
affidavit to determine whether it supported probable cause
for the warrant.
written response, the State opposed unsealing the affidavit
and cited civil cases where third-parties were required to
overcome a presumption that the records were properly sealed.
See, e.g., Scott v. Nelson, 697 So.2d 207
(Fla. 1st DCA 1997); Russell v. Miami Herald Pub.
Co., 570 So.2d 979 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990). The State
further wrote that the affidavit "is related to an
on-going investigation with law enforcement that could be
harmed and possible confidential sources could be placed in
danger if the affidavit is unsealed."
hearing on the motion to unseal the affidavit, the State
maintained its argument that the affidavit was related to
on-going investigations. The assistant state attorney argued
that although she did not "know any of the
specifics" of the affidavit, she had been informed by
the ECSO that the ...