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Dailey v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

December 10, 2019

JAMES M. DAILEY, Petitioner,



         Before the Court are Dkt. 96 and Dkt. 97, Petitioner Dailey's Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6), and the State's Response, Dkt. 112. The Court denies the Motion. The Court provides a short preface to this Order to describe an overview of this Court's thinking.


         The thesis of the motion is that Dailey's collateral lawyers were constitutionally ineffective. Trial lawyer failures were ignored, waived, or not sufficiently highlighted by his collateral habeas counsel, and Dailey was denied a fair and complete collateral, habeas review of his conviction and sentence. Poor lawyering by habeas counsel, according to the Motion, caused vital points to be defaulted on collateral review. And this was made worse by the conflict of interest among successor habeas counsel, who were not able to call attention effectively to the incompetence of their own colleagues who formerly handled Dailey's collateral litigation.

         The remedy sought is a Rule 60(b)(6) reopening of Dailey's federal habeas judgment in this case, Dkts. 27, 38, 41, & 42, to permit the undersigned to reconsider all of Dailey's collateral issues that were procedurally barred or not otherwise presented to U.S. District Judge Whittemore in this section 2254 habeas case in 2007. Dailey contends his trial counsel were ineffective, Dkt. 96 at 21, his first state habeas counsel were ineffective, id. at 23, and his second or successor habeas counsel were ineffective, id. at 2, 28. The gravamen of the motion (probably to avoid being deemed a successive habeas petition)[1] is that both the first and successive Capital Collateral Regional Counsel teams for Dailey were ineffective, and this failure is cognizable under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012).

         As part of this theme, and as part of the present effort to avoid what may be an impeding execution, Dailey's lawyers seek to marshal and restate evidence from this lengthy 34-year old record to cast doubt upon the verdict. Although energetic lawyering, the effort is selective.

         Dailey asks this Court to undertake a “holistic analysis of the facts and circumstances to determine whether relief is warranted.” Dkt. 96 at 19. Although it is not the Court's province at this stage 34 years later to adjudicate evidentiary sufficiency and retry the case, the Court has personally read every single page of this lengthy record. A thorough review shows the State's trial case against Dailey was not strong, but it was sufficient. It was made stronger by several acts by Dailey, such as his physical appearance after the murder, his inexplicable flight to Miami, and his jailhouse correspondence with Pearcy. Dailey's defense is further marred by his implausible post-trial testimony which sought to explain this unusual flight and to explain Dailey's appearance after the murder. Dkt. 33 D-3 291-318.

         This is not the place or remedy to restate the case against Dailey and weigh why he is facing the death penalty. The Court here provides but two examples of misguided points made by Mr. Dailey in his selective portrayal of the record. First, in several of his later motions, Mr. Dailey cites a 2017 affidavit of codefendant Pearcy, that states Pearcy alone, and not Dailey, murdered the victim. Dkt. 96-11. The affidavit is typical of latter day exculpatory affidavits seen on occasion from codefendants. It was created by Dailey's able lawyers for this purpose and in it Pearcy promised to testify as to the exculpation of Dailey. Fortunately, the state court took up Pearcy's promise and held an evidentiary hearing on this 2017 affidavit. There Pearcy, in person, entirely failed to substantiate its truth, and took the Fifth Amendment as to all the merits of the affidavit. Yet Dailey touts this affidavit now.

         This 2017 affidavit is an item of sworn Pearcy hearsay in this record, which Pearcy declined to substantiate from the witness box. But if one were to consider sworn hearsay statements in this record of Mr. Pearcy, a more apt selection might be his 40-page sworn statement in June 1985 during the State's Attorney investigation. Dkt. 33 D-9. In that statement, soon after the crime, Pearcy explained the details of the murder. He explained in detail how Dailey butchered and drown the 7th-grade girl during a rape; Pearcy denied stabbing or assaulting the victim-admitting his participation later. Pearcy's statements in that lengthy sworn interview are consistent with physical facts of the case, even down to the vomit that he emitted upon seeing the slaughter, which was found the next day near where the victim bled.[2] Both the 1985 sworn statement, and the 2017 affidavit now touted by Dailey, are not admissible at a criminal trial. But surely the former, more contemporaneous by 32 years, has equal or greater salience in a “holistic analysis of the facts and circumstances” on this record as requested by Dailey.

         The Court offers a second example of how a holistic review of this record urged by Dailey does not help him much. Mr. Dailey's counsel have decried the use of jailhouse informant testimony. That type of testimony is often fraught with problems and, in the undersigned's view, is too frequent in criminal prosecutions. But the testimony of the two jail librarian informants was backed up by four notes they passed at Dailey and Pearcy's request. These notes are in Dailey and Pearcy's hand. The trial judge admitted as evidence the notes written by Dailey. All four notes are present in this record, and should be considered as part of any “holistic review.” Dkt. 33 A-2 175-80. The four items inculpate Mr. Dailey. They are consistent with co-actors (“partners” as Dailey says in one note) who are trying to game their respective trials. One of Pearcy's notes expressly implicates Dailey as murderer, consistent with Pearcy's SAO statement. The notes in Dailey's hand are inculpatory and inconsistent with the facts as he now portrays them. And, these contemporaneous notes are entirely consistent with, and well buttress, the librarians' damning trial testimony.


         In 1987 a jury found Mr. Dailey guilty of the murder of Shelley Boggio and unanimously recommended a death sentence which the judge imposed. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the conviction but reversed the sentence. Dailey v. State, 594 So.2d 254, 259 (Fla. 1991). The trial court resentenced Dailey to death which was affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court and certiorari was denied. Dailey v. State, 659 So.2d 246, 247 (Fla. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1095 (1996). The state circuit court denied Dailey's initial postconviction relief after briefing, a legal hearing, and five evidentiary hearings. Dkt. 33 D-2. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Dailey's initial postconviction motion and denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Dailey v. State, 965 So.2d 38, 41-42 (Fla. 2007).

         This Court (per Whittemore, J.) dismissed part of Mr. Dailey's federal habeas petition as procedurally barred and for failing to allege a federal constitutional claim. Dailey v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., No. 8:07-CV-1897-T-27MSS, 2008 WL 4470016, at *10 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 30, 2008) (Dkt. 27). After briefing on the remaining claims, this Court denied the remainder of Mr. Dailey's federal habeas petition. Dailey v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., No. 8:07-CV-1897-T-27MAP, 2011 WL 1230812, at *32 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 1, 2011) (Dkt. 38), amended in part, vacated in part, No. 8:07-CV-1897-T-27MAP, 2012 WL 1069224 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 29, 2012) (Dkt. 41). The Eleventh Circuit denied the motion for a certificate of appealability and the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Dkts. 46 & 47.

         The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Dailey's first successive postconviction motion. Dailey v. State, 247 So.3d 390, 391 (Fla. 2018). In October 2019, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the state circuit court order denying in part and dismissing in part Dailey's second successive postconviction motion. Dailey v. State, 279 So.3d 1208, 1218 (Fla. 2019), reh'g denied, No. SC18-557, 2019 WL 5152446 (Fla. Oct. 14, 2019). In November 2019, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the state circuit court order denying in part and ...

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