Florida Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction
Former Prosecutor with 25 Years of Experience
Appeals Lawyer
Former Prosecutor with 25 Years of Experience
Appeals Lawyer

posted 2016 | PM v. State (Sarasota County)

Client was arrested for his third DUI and went to trial with another criminal defense lawyer.  He was convicted, sentenced to jail and had his license suspended for life.  Client filed an appeal with another lawyer, which was denied. Client then hired another well-known local criminal defense lawyer to file a motion for post-conviction relief under rule 3.850.  The motion contained four grounds, but the trial court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing.

Client decided to hire Mr. Forman to appeal the denial of his 3.850 motion.  After reviewing the motion, Mr. Forman believed that the trial court improperly denied the motion without a hearing.  The client also should have been allowed to amend the poorly written motion.   Mr. Forman handled the appeal and as expected, the appellate court reversed the denial of the client’s motion.  Client will now be able to proceed on his motion!  Client was very pleased at the result.


posted 2016 | State v. TB (Lee County)

This is a great example of how the lawyer you choose can make the difference! The client was charged in Lee county with trafficking in oxycodone pills and conspiracy to traffic, both offenses carrying a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence.  The client was represented by another attorney and was found guilty of both charges.  Unfortunately, he was sentenced to a mandatory 25 years in prison. Mr. Forman was hired to handle the appeal, but unfortunately the conviction and sentence were affirmed.

However, when preparing every appeal, Mr. Forman always anticipates the next move just in case the appeal is denied.  Here, he knew that there were several issues that could be raised in a motion for post conviction relief.  Mr. Forman was hired to handle the 3.850 motion and raised the issues that he found while drafting the initial direct appeal. Two of the issues that he discovered involved erroneous jury instructions that were given to the jury regarding the conspiracy offense and the lawful prescription defense.  Neither the judge, the prosecutor, nor former defense counsel noticed these errors. They were only noticed by Mr. Forman.

An evidentiary hearing was scheduled before the same judge who handled the trial. Two days before the hearing, the prosecutor asked if the client would take a 10 year sentence reduction.  The client refused to accept the deal and told Mr. Forman that he knew that Mr. Forman would win the hearing, certainly a big gamble.  At the evidentiary hearing, the trial court heard the testimony of 3 lawyers, as well as the defendant and his mother. The same judge who presided over the trial granted the motion for post conviction relief and ordered that the client be given a new trial for those charges.  His two 25 year minimum mandatory sentences were vacated!  Client and his family were thrilled with the outcome.

posted 2016 | State v. J.S.

This is a prime example of how a smart and experienced attorney can change the game. Client was arrested and charged with second degree grand theft, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  Client entered an open plea with a local attorney and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. The client was granted a week furlough and was told that if he failed to appear in court, he would automatically be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The client failed to appear for court and moved out of state for 6 years. The client was arrested in another state as a result of a traffic stop, which revealed an active Florida warrant. When he was brought back to Florida, the judge remanded the client into custody to serve his 15 year sentence. The judge refused to impose a new sentence, but indicated that he was merely remanding the client.

Client hired Mr. Forman to see what could be done.  Unfortunately, due to the lapse of 6 years, all of the deadlines and timelines expired.  This prevented the client from appealing his sentence or filing a motion for post conviction relief under rule 3.850.  However, Mr. Forman had an idea that was meant to re-start the clock for the expired deadline in the case.

As an experienced appellate lawyer, Mr. Forman knew that the court had to find that a client willfully failed to appear in court before the maximum sentence could be imposed. Mr. Forman filed a motion and was granted a hearing.  Although the client was sure to lose the motion, Mr. Forman wanted to re-start the clock.

Knowing that the motion was most likely going to be unsuccessful, Mr. Forman fought hard for the client and was able to convince the State to reduce the 15 year prison sentence to a 7 year sentence followed by 3 years of probation!  The State agreed to do this even though they had all of the leverage. Mr. Forman was able to convince them to negotiate because they believed that the case would be re-opened on appeal. Client is currently serving his reduced sentence and is grateful for the help!

posted 2016 | State v. E.S.

As explained in a previous post, Mr. Forman was able to win a new trial for a gun charge after an evidentiary on the client’s motion for post conviction relief. Instead of appealing or going forward with a new trial, the state dropped the charge!  Client is extremely pleased and of course, grateful for Mr. Forman’s efforts.

posted 2016 | State v. E.D.

What happens when a criminal defense lawyer takes on a post-conviction matter and panics? They call Mr. Forman! Client was charged with numerous burglaries and aggravated fleeing and eluding.  Because of his prior record, he was designated a prison release reoffender (PRR) and was facing a significant prison sentence. The client was already serving time in federal prison when his case was set for trial in state court.  The client went to trial and was convicted of all counts. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison consecutive to his current federal sentence. An appeal was filed, which the client lost.

The same attorney who handled the appeal recognized that he was in over his head and needed help.  His client wanted to file a post conviction motion, but the lawyer was unsure how to handle the motion.  The lawyer hired Mr. Forman to file the motion, which was filed in the career criminal division.  The motion raised several claims, including a claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to advise the client that he could be given a sentence consecutive to his 8 year federal sentence.  After filing the motion raising numerous grounds, the state agreed to change the sentence to a concurrent sentence, which essentially reduced the client’s sentence by 7 years.  Client and his former lawyer were obviously happy.

posted 2016 | R.L. v. DHSMV

Client was arrested for driving under the influence after he was observed falling off of his motorcycle.  The client hired another criminal defense lawyer to represent him in criminal court, as well as at the department of highway safety and motor vehicles. The client was given a formal review hearing which allowed him to challenge the suspension of his driver’s license.  At the hearing, defense counsel argued that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the suspension.  Of course, the client lost and his license was suspended for 18 months because this was his second refusal.

His defense attorney hired Mr. Forman to file an appeal called a Petition for Writ of Certiorari.  Mr. Forman came up with a more specific argument than the one raised at the DMV.  Specifically, Mr. Forman argued that there was no probable cause to establish that the client was in actual physical control of the motor vehicle because there was no evidence presented to show if the driver had any keys in his possession.  Mr. Forman also argued that the documentary evidence presented failed to show that the motorcycle was even operating.  After reading the petition, and despite the objection by the DHSMV, the appellate court agreed with Mr. Forman and quashed the license suspension!  This clever argument clearly helped change the outcome of the case.  This is another example of how the lawyer you choose can often make the difference between winning and losing!

posted 2016 | W.H. v. State (Palm Beach County)

Client was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) with an accident.  He was represented by the public defender’s office at trial and he was convicted by jury.  The client was referred to Mr. Forman by another criminal defense attorney.  Mr. Forman was hired to handle the appeal and after reading the transcripts, Mr. Forman told the client that he believed that he could obtain a new trial.  Mr. Forman argued that the judge committed an error during jury selection and also argued that the prosecutor made numerous improper comments in closing argument. The three judge appellate panel agreed with Mr. Forman and reversed the conviction and sentence.  The client will now get a new trial!

posted 2016 | State v. E.S.

Client was arrested for aggravated assault with a firearm.  He went to trial on a lesser gun charge and was convicted by a jury.  The client did not appeal and hired Mr. Forman a year after his conviction and sentence. Mr. Forman told him that the only remedy was to file a motion for post conviction relief under rule 3.850.  Mr. Forman meticulously went through the trial transcripts and found numerous errors made by trial counsel. These errors included counsel’s failure to object to improper bolstering of the victim’s testimony, improper comments in closing argument, failure to file a motion to exclude prejudicial evidence, and other errors which collectively deprived the client of a fair trial. 

The trial court granted an evidentiary hearing and both the client and his former trial attorney testified.  Mr. Forman argued that all of the errors warranted a new trial.  The State vehemently opposed the motion and urged the trial court to deny the motion.  After hearing the testimony and all of the argument, the trial court granted the motion and awarded the client a new trial!  The State is appealing the victory.  Of course, the client was very pleased with the result.  This is just another example of how Mr. Forman finds errors that other lawyers do not realize could warrant a new trial.

posted 2015 | A.N v. State

This is another example how the lawyer you choose can make all the difference, especially after another appellate attorney claimed that there were no errors on appeal!  Client was arrested for Grand theft > $100,000 for allegedly embezzling over a million dollars from her employer. She hired a criminal defense lawyer who charged her an exorbitant amount of money and she entered a no contest plea.  The client was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The client filed numerous motions, including a motion for post conviction relief filed under Florida Rule Criminal Procedure 3.850.  

The client alleged that her counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel.  Client also filed a motion for disqualification seeking to have the same judge removed from her case. Both motions were denied. The client appealed the denial of these motions, but they were denied.  The client reached out to a prominent and very expensive criminal defense lawyer, but due to the complexity of the matter, this attorney referred the client to Mr. Forman.

Client hired Mr. Forman to review the case to see what could be done.  The client wanted Mr. Forman to file a motion for rehearing since the appeal was denied.  Mr. Forman filed the motion, but as expected, it was denied. However, when Mr. Forman read the transcripts to file the motion for rehearing, he noticed what he believed to be an error that could help vacate the client’s sentence. The problem is that years prior, she had a public defender who filed an Anders brief, which tells the court that there are no errors on appeal.

Mr. Forman decided that he should file a petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.  Mr. Forman identified an issue where a recent appellate decision applied to the client’s case. However, due to the prior Anders brief and the voluntary dismissal of the appeal, Mr. Forman had to get creative.  After discovering a small technical loophole, Mr. Forman filed the petition in the appellate court.

Despite the attorney general’s objection to the granting of the petition, the appellate court granted the petition and vacated the sentence. The client was worried because she was going back to be sentenced before the same judge. However, Mr. Forman remembered that a doctor who evaluated the client years prior and who was going to testify on her behalf, could not testify before that judge.  The judge had a standing recusal order against the doctor.

Mr. Forman filed a motion for disqualification, which was granted by the trial court.  The client’s case was assigned to another judge.  Mr. Forman was able to negotiate with the prosecutor and reduced her prison sentence by 40%.  The client was released 4 months after the new sentence was reached.  Needless to say, the client and her family were absolutely thrilled at the outcome.  The outcome of this case was only reached because of the creativity and legal knowledge of Mr. Forman!

posted 2015 | B.H. v. State

The client, along with two other boys, were arrested and charged with second degree murder and attempted second degree murder.  All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to prison. The client was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The client filed an appeal seeking a new trial based upon defective jury instructions.  The appellate court denied the appeal.  No motion for rehearing was filed.

However, the co-defendant, whose appeal was completed after the client’s appeal, did receive the benefit of the erroneous jury instruction.  His case is pending before the Florida Supreme Court.  Mr. Forman was hired by the Client’s family to handle the case even though the appellate process had already been exhausted.

Mr. Forman filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in order to correct a manifest injustice in the appellate court.  Even though the attorney general’s office vigorously opposed the petition, the Fourth District Court of Appeals granted the petition and ordered that  the client be given a new trial for the attempted second degree murder charges. This will allow the client to be re-sentenced or retried before another jury on the vacated charge.  The case is currently before the Florida Supreme Court. 

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