In Adkins v. State, 32 Fla. L. Weekly D1425 (Fla. 3d DCA June 6, 2007), available at 2007 WL 1610147, the state’s murder case against the defendant rested entirely on one witness, whom the defense argued was the real perpetrator. The appellate court held that the state’s failure to disclose that the witness had been the subject of twelve separate criminal complaints in the year after the murder violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and required a new trial even though this witness had been cleared of all charges, as the undisclosed evidence still could have impeached or undermined his credibility.
In Lavado v. State, 492 So. 2d 1322 (Fla. 1986), the Florida Supreme Court established the right of the defense to question prospective jurors on voir dire regarding their ability to fairly consider a particular defense (here, voluntary intoxication) and any bias or prejudice they may have against it. Asking simply whether a juror would follow the court’s instructions on the law is insufficient. Lavado has been applied to a variety of defenses, such as necessity, entrapment, self-defense and insanity. See e.g. Mosely v. State, 842 So. 2d 279 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003).
Basic “principles of fundamental fairness” sometimes require the trial court to appoint experts to assist the defendant in preparing and presenting his or her case, the court held in Dingle v. State, 654 So. 2d 164 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995). Our client was babysitting a child who became unresponsive and died of trauma to the brain and spinal cord. The state charged him with murder. His defense was that previous injuries to the child inflicted by someone else had caused the brain to swell, causing death. Shortly before trial, the state added three doctors to its witness list, all of whom would testify that either the child had no other injuries or they were inflicted the day the child died. When the defense sought the appointment of two pediatric experts to dispute that testimony, the trial court denied the request. On appeal, we successfully argued that the denial of the additional experts was, under the circumstances, an abuse of discretion.
In Teemer v. State, 615 So. 2d 234 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993), the court held that the Rape Shield Statute cannot be used to preclude DNA test results showing the defendant was not the source of semen found in the rape victim’s vagina, as that evidence was crucial to the defense of misidentification.
In Miami Herald Pub. Co. v. Morejon, 561 So. 2d 577 (Fla. 1990), the Florida Supreme Court held that when an on-duty reporter witnesses events relevant to a subsequent criminal charge, there is no privilege, qualified, limited, or otherwise, that shields the reporter from having to testify.
In Bryant v. State, 412 So. 2d 347 (Fla. 1982), we successfully argued that an independent act is a defense to accomplice liability under the felony murder doctrine. Bryant triggered the creation of Florida Standard Jury Instruction 3.6(l) on the defense of independent act for felony murder.
In Roberts v. State, 335 So. 2d 285 (Fla. 1976), the Florida Supreme Court held that where the defense of insanity is fairly raised, the jury must be instructed upon the consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. This holding is the foundation for Florida Standard Jury Instruction 3.6(a).