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Florida Supreme Court Speaks Out of Both Sides of Mouth in Prisoner Sanction Case

By Christopher Zoukis

The Florida Supreme Court has issued an unusual opinion in which it simultaneously sanctioned a prisoner for too many filings and pointed out that the prisoner may be serving an illegal sentence.

The prisoner, Otis D. Blaxton, filed 21 petitions with the Florida Supreme Court between 2008 and 2016. The petitions ran the gamut from mandamus to habeas corpus, and every one was deemed frivolous by the court. The petition at hand in this case was a request to compel the state to convene a grand jury to review his conviction, which was also deemed frivolous by the court.

As a sanction, the court ordered that the clerk of court no longer accept any petitions from Braxton unless signed by a member in good standing of The Florida Bar. The court also referred the case to the Florida Department of Corrections for disciplinary action pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 944.279(a).

Despite sanctioning Blaxton, three Justices filed a concurring opinion in which they highlighted a potential problem with his convictions and sentence. Originally convicted in 1998 as a youthful offender, Blaxton was given a 364 day jail sentence to be followed by 44 months of probation. Blaxton violated probation, was jailed and ultimately escaped. He was sentenced to 30 years for the escape.

The concurrence pointed out, however, that the probation term which Blaxton violated was an unlawful sentence under the circumstances of his case. As such, his escape took place while he was serving an illegal jail term. That escape resulted in a 30-year prison sentence.

Because of these unique circumstances, the concurrence essentially encouraged Blaxton to file another habeas petition in the same opinion in which the majority ruled that he would be barred from further filings.

Case:  Blaxton v. State of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida, Case No. SC15-1307 (January 21, 2016).

Related legal case

Blaxton v. State of Florida


 

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