posted 2021 | State v. RG (Manatee County/Tallahassee)
“That was much quicker than we expected”. It took my Mr. Forman less than 30 days after being retained to have his client’s sentence reduced from 18 years in prison to 6 months of community control! Mr. Forman was hired after the Client’s previous lawyer committed one of the worst cases of legal malpractice ever seen. This result was simply amazing.
The client was convicted of numerous sex offenses stemming in 1993. He was sentenced to prison and was released on conditional release. Conditional release allows certain offenders to be released from prison, but they must abide by numerous conditions. The client was released eleven years ago and had been a model offender. Not only did he do everything he was supposed to do, he helped other sexual offenders who were released into the community. His supervising officer, as well as local law enforcement, recognized him as a leader.
The client moved to an adjacent county. He went to visit a bird sanctuary and veteran’s memorial with an out of town friend. Although no children were present, he was violated for visiting these two “parks”. He was taken into custody and hired a local attorney. His attorney inexplicably advised the client to waive the hearing and forward the matter to Tallahassee so they can decide what to do. To the client’s dismay, his conditional release was revoked and he was ordered to serve the remaining portion of his sentence, giving him a release date of 2039, eighteen years later. His lawyer was simply horrible.
Mr. Forman was retained by the Client’s friend, who explained the situation. After reviewing the appropriate paperwork and speaking to the witnesses, Mr. Forman found a technicality that he believed would demonstrate that the client did not violate the terms of his conditional release. The problem was that there was no formal appeal allowed of the commission’s decision. The client was already in custody for about 50 days before Mr. Forman was retained.
The client and his friends were gravely concerned whether anything could be done. Yet Mr. Forman devised a two-prong plan. First, he would try to get the commission to change their decision – certainly a tough task. If that did not work, then he would file a writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court, alleging that the client was revoked for violating a condition that did not exist. Mr. Forman focused on the word “loiter”, as opposed to the word “visit” – a one word technicality that could make the difference.
Although there is no formal appeal process, Mr. Forman knew that if his client’s case was properly presented to the commission, they may realize that the client was violated wrongfully. He prepared a lengthy packet, which included letters of endorsement and photographs demonstrating that he was not loitering. He also argued that the client did not violate the condition he was accused of violating.
After reading the packet, the commission decided to place the matter on a future docket. Mr. Forman sent multiple correspondence to the commissioners urging them to reconsider. Amazingly, the commission changed their decision and placed the Client on six months community control instead of serving the 18 years remaining! An awesome outcome.