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Appellate Court Cautions Against Pro Se Post-Conviction Motions

In a recent post-conviction case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal prevented a pro se defendant from filing documents with the Court and considered disciplinary procedures where the Defendant had filed repetitive and untimely motions.

In Holley v. State, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2085a (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), Holley filed a petition alleging ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Holley previously filed a repetitive, successive, and untimely ineffective assistance of appellate counsel petition.

In the previous case, the Court cautioned Holley that another such proceeding would result in sanctions. Holley again raised the same claims. The Court denied Holley's petition and issued an order to show cause. Holley contended that, because the Court did not state that his prior petition was frivolous, a sanction was inappropriate.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal found that it was not necessary for a court to explain why a prisoner's frivolous legal arguments are wrong and directed the Clerk of Court to no longer accept any paper filed by Holley unless the document had been reviewed and signed by a member in good standing of the Florida Bar. The Court further directed the Clerk of Court to forward a certified copy of the opinion to the appropriate institution for consideration of disciplinary procedures.

Holley is just one of many examples of the importance of hiring an appellate attorney to handle post-conviction claims. There are numerous ways to attack a judgment and sentence but there are serious deadlines and strict rules that must be followed.

Many defendants who choose to file pro se motions do so without raising the proper legal arguments, file untimely motions, or file successive motions. This can result in sanctions and could possibly prevent the Defendant from filing a motion with sufficient legal arguments. Not only may a court refuse to accept a document, it may do so without even putting forth an explanation.

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