Case: Atwell v. State of Florida

14-00193 | Florida state trial court

Filed Date: 2014

Closed Date: Oct. 13, 2016

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case is an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court of Angelo Atwell's sentence to life in prison without parole for a murder he committed when he was 16 years old. Represented by the Florida Public Defender's Office, defendant appealed his sentence to the Florida Supreme Court after the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, decided in 2012, which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders.In 1992, Atwell was convicted of fir…

This case is an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court of Angelo Atwell's sentence to life in prison without parole for a murder he committed when he was 16 years old. Represented by the Florida Public Defender's Office, defendant appealed his sentence to the Florida Supreme Court after the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, decided in 2012, which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders.

In 1992, Atwell was convicted of first degree murder and armed robbery, for which he was sentenced to a mandatory sentence for life in prison. In February 2013, he moved for postconviction relief under Miller, arguing that his life sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. The trial court denied his motion, holding that he was technically eligible for parole. The Fourth Judicial Circuit denied his appeal, holding that Miller only applied to mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole. Miller then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

On September 16, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction and invited briefing on Miller's claims. Atwell filed his initial brief on the merits on November 13, 2014 and the State of Florida replied on February 11, 2015, with a reply brief from Atwell on March 9, 2015. Various supplemental and amicus curiae briefs were submitted over the course of 2015. In addition, while Atwell's case was pending in June 2015, the Commission on Offender Review set a presumptive parole release date of December 27, 2130 for Atwell, with a new interview date for reevaluation in February 2022.

On May 26, 2016, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Atwell's sentence, holding that his sentence effectively constituted a life sentence without parole and therefore violated the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Miller. The Court concluded that Florida's sentencing guidelines did not provide for the individualized considerations for juvenile sentencing required by Miller. In a footnote, the Court also noted that his mandatory life sentence for armed robbery was almost certainly unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Graham v. Florida, which held that mandatory sentences for non-homicide felonies violated the Eighth Amendment, and that Atwell could raise the issue on re-sentencing.

The Court remanded the case for re-sentencing, where the sentencing court could impose a sentence of 40 years to life imprisonment, taking into account "youth-related" sentencing factors. The Court also indicated that his sentence had to be reevaluated by a trial judge in 25 years. According to the Miami Herald, approximately 300 juvenile murderers in Florida could receive new sentences due to this decision.

On August 23, 2016, the State of Florida's motion for rehearing was denied and on October 13, 2016, the Fourth Judicial Circuit remanded Atwell for re-sentencing.

Summary Authors

Craig Streit (2/8/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Pariente, Barbara J. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Terenzio, Consiglia (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Haughwout, Carey (Florida)

Petillo, Paul E (Florida)

Other Attorney(s)

Active

Active

Judge(s)

Pariente, Barbara J. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Terenzio, Consiglia (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Haughwout, Carey (Florida)

Petillo, Paul E (Florida)

Other Attorney(s)

Bettendorf, Heidi L (Florida)

Bondi, Pamela Jo (Florida)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Atwell v. Florida

Florida state supreme court

Sept. 20, 2016 Docket

Petitioner's Initial Brief on the Merits

Atwell v. Florida

Florida state supreme court

Nov. 13, 2014 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Respondent's Brief on the Merits

Atwell v. Florida

Florida state supreme court

Feb. 11, 2015 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Petitioner's Reply Brief

Atwell v. Florida

Florida state supreme court

March 9, 2015 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Opinion

Florida state supreme court

197 So.3d 1040, 2016 WL 3010795, 2016 Fla.LEXIS 1124

May 26, 2016 Order/Opinion

Order

Atwell v. Florida

Florida state supreme court

2016 WL 4440673, 2016 Fla.LEXIS 1848

Aug. 23, 2016 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Florida

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2014

Closing Date: Oct. 13, 2016

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder at the age of 16 and is seeking a new sentence pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Florida (Tallahasee), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Juveniles

Parole grant/revocation