A successive motion shall not exceed 25 pages, exclusive of attachments, and shall include:
Pursuant to the procedures outlined in Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure, a defendant under sentence of death may petition for a belated appeal.
Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851
1993 Adoption. This rule is consistent with the recommendation of the Supreme Court Committee on Postconviction Relief in Capital Cases, which was created because of the substantial delays in the death penalty postconviction relief process. The committee was created because of the inability of the capital collateral representative to properly represent all death penalty inmates in postconviction relief cases and because of the resulting substantial delays in those cases. That committee recognized that, to make the process work properly, each death row prisoner should have counsel available to represent him or her in postconviction relief proceedings. The committee found that one of the major problems with the process was that the triggering mechanism to start or assure movement of the postconviction relief proceedings was the signing of a death warrant. In a number of instances, the courts were not aware of the problems concerning representation of a defendant until a death warrant was signed. In other instances, the committee found that, when postconviction relief motions had been filed, they clearly had not moved at an orderly pace and the signing of a death warrant was being used as a means to expedite the process. The committee recommended that specific named counsel should be designated to represent each prisoner not later than 30 days after the defendant's judgment and sentence of death becomes final. To assure that representation, the committee's report noted that it was essential that there be adequate funding of the capital collateral representative and sought temporary assistance from The Florida Bar in providing pro bono representation for some inmates.
There is a justification for the reduction of the time period for a capital prisoner as distinguished from a noncapital prisoner, who has two years to file a postconviction relief proceeding. A capital prisoner will have counsel immediately available to represent him or her in a postconviction relief proceeding, while counsel is not provided or constitutionally required for noncapital defendants to whom the two-year period applies.
In the event the capital collateral representative is not fully funded and available to provide proper representation for all death penalty defendants, the reduction in the time period would not be justified and would necessarily have to be repealed, and this Court will forthwith entertain a petition for the repeal of the rule. In this context, it is important to emphasize that the governor agrees that absent the circumstance where a competent death-sentenced individual voluntarily requests that a death warrant be signed, no death warrants will be issued during the initial round of federal and state review, provided that counsel for death penalty defendants is proceeding in a timely and diligent manner. This Court agrees that the initial round of postconviction proceedings should proceed in a deliberate but timely manner without the pressure of a pending death warrant. Subdivision 3.851(b)(4) above addresses concerns of The Florida Bar and The Florida Bar Foundation.
The provisions of the present rule 3.851 providing for time periods where a 60-day warrant is signed by the governor are abolished because they are unnecessary if the guidelines are followed. The proceedings and grounds for postconviction relief remain as provided under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure, which include, as one of the grounds, the opportunity for a defendant to present newly discovered evidence in accordance with Scott v. Dugger, 604 So. 2d 465 (Fla. 1992), Jones v. State, 591 So. 2d 911 (Fla. 1991), and Richardson v. State, 546 So. 2d 1037 (Fla. 1989).
1996 Amendment. Subdivision (c) is added to make the Court's decision in Huff v. State, 622 So. 2d 982 (Fla. 1993), applicable to all rulemotions filed by a prisoner who has been sentenced to death. Florida Rule of Judicial Administration allows for telephonic and teleconferencing communication equipment to be utilized "for a motion hearing, pretrial conference, or a status conference." Teleconferencing sites have been established by the Department of Management Services, Division of Communications at various metropolitan locations in the state. The "Shevin Study" examined, at this Court's request, the issue of delays in capital postconviction relief proceedings and noted that travel problems of counsel cause part of those delays. The Court strongly encourages the use of the new telephonic and teleconferencing technology for postconviction relief proceedings that do not require evidentiary hearings, such as the hearing required under subdivision (c) of this rule. Only the attorneys need be involved in a hearing held under subdivision (c) of this rule; attendance of the postconviction defendant is not required.
2001 Amendment. Several new procedures are added to rule 3.851. New subdivision (b), Appointment of Postconviction Counsel, is added to ensure appointment of postconviction counsel upon the Supreme Court of Florida's issuance of mandate on direct appeal. New subdivision (c), Preliminary Procedures, provides for, among other things, the assignment of a qualified judge within 30 days after mandate issues on direct appeal and status conferences every 90 days after the assignment until the evidentiary hearing has been completed or the motion has been ruled on without a hearing. These status conferences are intended to provide a forum for the timely resolution of public records issues and other preliminary matters. New subdivision (f), Procedure; Evidentiary Hearing; Disposition, sets forth general procedures. Most significantly, that subdivision requires an evidentiary hearing on claims listed in an initial motion as requiring a factual determination. The Court has identified the failure to hold evidentiary hearings on initial motions as a major cause of delay in the capital postconviction process and has determined that, in most cases, requiring an evidentiary hearing on initial motions presenting factually based claims will avoid this cause of delay. See Amendments to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.851,and , 772 So. 2d 488, 491 (Fla. 2000).
2006 Amendment. The amendments provide for the appointment of Registry Counsel in areas of the state that are not served by a Capital Collateral Regional Counsel. Counsel are allowed to appear at status conferences electronically to authorize both telephonic and video appearances.
2013 Amendment. Only minor amendments are made to rule 3.851.
Criminal Court Steering Committee Note
2014 Amendment. The rule was amended to comply with the "Timely Justice Act of 2013," chapter 2013-216, Laws of Florida, and to preclude extended postconviction litigation. Because the Sixth Amendment does not apply to postconviction proceedings, the Steering Committee concluded that a defendant has no constitutional right to self-representation in postconviction matters. The Steering Committee also concluded that the capital postconviction process would function more effectively if a defendant were represented by an attorney, unless the defendant seeks to dismiss postconviction proceedings and discharge counsel pursuant to subdivision (i). The Steering Committee concluded that the lead attorney should not be allowed to participate in capital postconviction litigation on a limited basis and that the lead attorney should remain in the case until the litigation is concluded or until the court allows withdrawal. The Steering Committee also determined that the postconviction process would not work efficiently unless the trial judge was responsible for case management. Case management orders are required throughout the postconviction process in order to maintain a capital postconviction computer database.
Under the amended rule, the clerk of the trial court is required to retain a copy of the record so that it will be available for postconviction litigation, especially following issuance of the death warrant. Additionally, the Steering Committee added provisions to the pleading requirements for motions and created a provision that allows for written closing argument memoranda, formalizing by rule a practice that is already utilized throughout the state in capital postconviction proceedings. In an effort to prevent delay, the amended rule requires written reports from experts who will testify at the evidentiary hearing, and allows for witnesses to testify via videoconferencing, even over the objections of the parties. Finally, the amended rule requires the Attorney General to inform the Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court and the defendant's counsel of record when a defendant has completed his or her litigation in order for the Clerk to report to the Governor pursuant to Florida Statute 922.052..