Duckett v. State

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and the Supreme Court’s decision on remand in Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016).

Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death following the jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eight to four. Appellant’s death sentence became final in 1990. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying relief, holding that Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death.

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Supreme Court of Florida ____________ No. SC18-1190 ____________ JAMES AREN DUCKETT, Appellant, vs. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. December 28, 2018 PER CURIAM. We have for review James Aren Duckett’s appeal of the postconviction court’s order denying Duckett’s motion filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. This Court has jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. Duckett’s motion sought relief pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and our decision on remand in Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 2161 (2017). Duckett responded to this Court’s order to show cause arguing why Hitchcock v. State, 226 So. 3d 216 (Fla.), cert. denied, 138 S. Ct. 513 (2017), should not be dispositive in this case. After reviewing Duckett’s response to the order to show cause, as well as the State’s arguments in reply, we conclude that Duckett is not entitled to relief. Duckett was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death following the jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eight to four, and his sentence of death became final in 1990. Duckett v. State, 568 So. 2d 891, 894 (Fla. 1990). Thus, Hurst does not apply retroactively to Duckett’s sentence of death. See Hitchcock, 226 So. 3d at 217; see also Foster v. State, No. SC18-860, 2018 WL 6379348, at *2-4 (Fla. Dec. 6, 2018) (explaining why the “elements of ‘capital first-degree murder’ ” argument derived from Hurst and the legislation implementing Hurst “has no merit”). Accordingly, we affirm the postconviction court’s order denying relief. It is so ordered. LEWIS, QUINCE, POLSTON, LABARGA, and LAWSON, JJ., concur. CANADY, C.J., and PARIENTE, J., concur in result. NO MOTION FOR REHEARING WILL BE ALLOWED. An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Lake County, William Gray Law, Jr., Judge - Case Nos. 351987CF001347AXXXXX & 351988CF000262AXXXXX Mary Elizabeth Wells of the Law Office of M.E. Wells, Atlanta, Georgia; and Brittney Nicole Lacy, Staff Attorney, Office of Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Southern Region, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for Appellant -2- Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Leslie T. Campbell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Appellee -3-
Primary Holding
The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under Hurst v. Florida or Hurst v. State.

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