THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
THREE 1000-YEAR CONCURRENT SENTENCES
DOES NOT VIOLATE THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT.
So says the Florida Supreme Court in an opinion issued last week. (See Franklin v. State, SC14-1442, November 8, 2018).
In 1984, "at the age of 17, Arthur O’Derrell Franklin committed a series of brutal crimes against women. In each case, the female victim testified that Franklin violently attacked her, kidnapped her, drove her to a secluded area and brutally battered, raped, and robbed her while evidencing an extraordinary cruelty and a perverse enjoyment of the suffering he was inflicting." "In each of three cases, Franklin was convicted of armed kidnapping, kidnapping, armed sexual battery, sexual battery, armed robbery, robbery, and aggravated assault."
Franklin was sentenced to three 1,000 year concurrent sentences and the Parole Commission set his presumptive parole release date in the year 2352. Franklin, now 51 years old, has spent his entire adult life in prison. As a result, and pursuant to Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) and its progeny, Franklin filed a 3.850 which was denied by the trial court. The First DCA affirmed.
"In Graham, 560 U.S. at 75, the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment categorically forbids a sentence of life without parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders, and required that any life sentence for a juvenile nonhomicide offender be accompanied by "some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation" before the end of the sentence and during the offender’s natural life."
In a 4-3 decision with Justice Lewis providing the surprising swing vote, the Florida Supreme Court approved the First District’s decision in Franklin and held that "Franklin’s 1000-year sentences with parole eligibility do not violate the categorical rule of Graham." With their decision, our state supreme court was saying that, because Franklin's 1,000 year sentence was accompanied by "parole", the 17 year old (at the time he committed the crimes) Franklin had some meaningful opportunity to obtain release!
On Tuesday, November 6th, Election day, I wrote about the election contests that might interest our readers. The judicial contests in Dade and Broward and two of the constitutional amendments. But, the bigger point of the post, the title "Elections Matter", was clearly missed by more than a few voters.
As a result, it looks like we will be calling Ron DeSantis "Governor" for at least the next four years. That is unless the recount somehow manages to find some 33,700 more votes for Andrew Gillum.
So, it’s the decisions in cases like Franklin that we, as lawyers, and by extension, the clients we represent, have to look forward to over the next 20-30 years, or possibly even longer.
Why 20-30 years? Because, unlike DeSantis, who may be our Governor for only four years, or at most, eight, the three Supreme Court justices he appoints, likely to be named in January of 2019, will be on our state’s highest court bench for decades. The current make-up of the Court, with four left leaning justices includes three who will be retiring on January 8th: Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince. With DeSantis' three appointments, the court will include six of seven justices who will all be Federalist Society dyed in the wool conservatives.
PS: Please join me in wishing the Justice Building Blog and Horace Rumpole a Happy 13th Birthday. It was on November 16, 2005 that Rumpole first posted. I was invited to join the Blog a few months later. Today's post is the 3,599th posted over the past 13 years. Thank you Rumpole for allowing me the opportunity of contributing to your Blog.
CAPTAIN OUT .......