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 2015 | G.D. v. State (appeal)

Client was convicted by a jury of battery on a law enforcement officer, attempted burglary, grand theft and possession of burglary tools. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison as a habitual felony offender.  Mr. Forman was hired to handle the appeal.  When reviewing the appellate record, Mr. Forman immediately recognized that the trial court improperly relied on the client’s lack of remorse and claim of innocence when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. This obvious error was overlooked by the client’s trial lawyer.  After filing the appellate briefs, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed and ordered that the client be re-sentenced by the trial court.  Pleased with the result, Mr. Forman was also hired by the family to handle the re-sentencing.  After having a full sentencing hearing,  Mr. Forman was able to convince the court to sentence the client to only 5 years!  The client, who already had a substantial amount of time served, was extremely happy and was released in less than 18 months.

posted 2015| State v. R.J.

Client was arrested and charged with felony grand theft for stealing parts from a boat. The client filed a sworn motion to dismiss alleging that he did not have the intent to steal because he believed that he was entitled to the boat parts under the good faith doctrine.  The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. Mr. Forman was hired to handle the appeal for the client.  Even though a defendant’s intent is generally not allowed to be raised in a motion to dismiss, the appellate court agreed with Mr. Forman and upheld the dismissal!  All charges were dismissed and the client was happy.

posted 2015 | City of Hollywood v. E.A. (appeal)

This decision created havoc with almost every city throughout the State of Florida. It was all over the media because it involved red light cameras and potentially millions of dollars. It also resulted in numerous class action lawsuits, including one filed by Mr. Forman as co-counsel. Here is what happened.  A county court judge determined that ATS, the for profit corporation located in Arizona who operated the red light camera program, was unlawfully being used by the City of Hollywood in violation of state statute. The City of Hollywood appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal and hired a powerful law firm to handle the appeal.  Mr. Forman was hired by the biggest ticket law firm in the state to handle the appeal.  Cities all over the State paid close attention to this case because similar procedures were also being used.

After all the briefs were submitted to the appellate court, the court, in a 2 to 1 decision, reversed the decision of the trial court.  The city thought that they had successfully won the appeal, which would save potentially millions of dollars. However, Mr. Forman was not ready to give up on the appeal and had an idea. He filed a motion for rehearing and tried to convince the same appellate court that they were wrong, certainly a difficult task.  Several months later, despite opposition by the City, the Fourth District Court reversed itself and granted the motion for rehearing!  The City appealed this to the Florida Supreme Court, but their request for review was denied. Numerous cities all over the state were forced to shut down their similar red light camera programs, some were shut down permanently!  Mr. Forman’s persistence certainly paid off! Recently, Broward county alone dismissed over 24,000 red light camera citations.

posted 2015 | E.W. v. State (appeal)

Client was charged in career criminal court with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.  The client was represented by another lawyer and after a jury trial, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  Mr. Forman was referred the case by his trial attorney who knew that Mr. Forman regularly handled criminal appeals.  The trial attorney mentioned a few issues that she thought that Mr. Forman could raise, but she informed him that it “was a clean trial”.  Mr. Forman was hired and completed his thorough “audit” of the record.  As a result of his efforts, Mr. Forman found a hidden gem within the instructions read to the jury.  Although neither trial counsel, the prosecutor, nor the judge observed the error, Mr. Forman recognized that the trial court used the word “and” instead of “or” while instructing the jury on self-defense.  The Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed and reversed and vacated the client’s conviction and 30 year sentence!  There is no substitute for an experienced criminal appellate attorney!

posted 2015 | W.T. v. State (appeal)

This appeal is the perfect example of how important it is to have a persistent and experienced criminal appellate lawyer on your side. The United States Supreme Court rendered an opinion in a case called Graham v. Florida, which held that an offender under 18 years of age cannot be sentenced to life in prison.  The client was a 15 year old boy charged with attempted first degree murder for kicking and head stomping a girl after being taunted about his deceased brother. His trial attorney asked the court to release him on bond because the language of the Florida Constitution, in light of the new Graham decision, required that he be given pre-trial bail as a matter of right.  The trial court denied the motion and Mr. Forman was hired to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus seeking his release from the appellate court.  The appellate court denied the appeal. 

However, Mr. Forman subsequently learned that the appellate court, in an unpublished order, reached a different result in another case.  Mr. Forman filed a second Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus seeking pre-trial bail on behalf of the boy. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, the appellate court who handled the appeal, recognized that it improperly granted the writ in the other case and entered an opinion denying bail once again in this case.  Determined that he was correct, Mr. Forman filed an appeal before the Florida Supreme Court and won! As a result, the law in the entire State of Florida was changed and all juveniles charged with non-homicide offenses were entitled to bail as a matter of right! You may have heard about this ruling in the media.

posted 2015 | W.H. v. State (appeal)

Mr. Forman was hired to handle an appeal for a driver in Orange County, Florida whose drivers license was suspended for speeding on a motorcycle.  The particular judge who imposed the suspension frequently imposed suspensions to drivers over the objection of the lawyers in that county.  Mr. Forman was hired to fight on behalf of the driver and won!  As a matter of first impression, Mr. Forman was able to convince a 3 judge appellate panel that it was unlawful for the trial judge to suspend a person’s license merely because the person committed a traffic infraction where there was no accident.  The Client’s suspension was overturned.  Not only was the client obviously happy, but Mr. Forman actually received a congratulatory and appreciative phone call from an Orange County attorney who regularly appeared before this judge. Mr. Forman was advised that no local attorney had the “guts” to appeal this particular judge.

posted 2015 | State vs. S.O. (Appeal/Motion for New Trial)

The client was a local police officer who was charged in a high publicity case with sexual battery.  He was represented by another attorney who is now a judge in Broward County.  After a jury trial, the police officer was convicted of a very serious charge and was facing 15 yeas in prison.  His trial attorney contacted Mr. Forman in order to file a Motion for New Trial based upon juror misconduct.  Mr. Forman filed the motion and after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the motion for new trial.  Of course, the client was thrilled that his sentence and conviction were vacated!

posted 2015 | State v. J.J. (Appeal/3.850)

The defendant was charged with trafficking in oxycodone.  After a jury trial, the defendant was sentenced to 36 years in Florida State Prison.  Mr. Forman was referred this appeal by his client’s trial attorney, who advised Mr. Forman that he did not believe that there was a chance to win on appeal.  Mr. Forman handled the direct appeal and found numerous issues that he believed warranted a new trial.  However, the trial attorney failed to object during the course of the trial, which precludes winning on appeal.

Due to trial counsel’s failure to object, Mr. Forman sought to have the trafficking conviction vacated due to ineffective assistance of counsel on the face of the record, which is extremely rare.  The appellate court issued an opinion indicating that it was concerned  about trial counsel’s failure to object, as well as other instances raised by Mr. Forman.  This paved the way for a motion for post-conviction relief (3850 motion) under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850.  The Broward County State Attorney’s Office decided that it was best to negotiate a plea offer and agreed to a 12 year sentence with the defendant’s new attorney.  The client was pleased with the result and will be released in less than 2.5 years!

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