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!