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DARRYL LEN MORGAN vs STATE OF FLORIDA
Case Number: 18-4940
Judge: Anthony K. Black
Court: IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA
Plaintiff's Attorney: Ashley Moody, Attorney General,
Tallahassee, and Allison C. Heim,
Assistant Attorney General
Defendant's Attorney: Ashley Moody, Attorney General,
Tallahassee, and Allison C. Heim,
Assistant Attorney General
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Darryl Morgan challenges the postconviction court's order denying his
motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal
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Procedure 3.800(a). In the order on appeal, the postconviction court vacated a previous
order in which it had granted Morgan's motion and ordered resentencing. At the time
that the postconviction court reconsidered Morgan's motion, Morgan's resentencing had
not occurred and a change in the law clarified that Morgan's initial sentence was not
illegal. Morgan contends that the postconviction court did not have jurisdiction to
reconsider its previous order and that we must reverse the order denying his motion and
remand for reinstatement of the previous order directing resentencing. We disagree
and affirm the order on appeal.
Morgan was a juvenile in 1979 when he was convicted of murder in the
second degree and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after twentyfive years. In September 2016, Morgan filed a rule 3.800(a) motion arguing that he was
entitled to resentencing pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Atwell
v. State, 197 So. 3d 1040 (Fla. 2016). On January 3, 2017, the postconviction court
granted Morgan's motion, ruling that his life sentence was illegal and that he was
therefore entitled to be resentenced. The State then filed a notice of appeal but
voluntarily dismissed the appeal before it was perfected.
More than a year after the postconviction court had granted Morgan's
motion, Morgan still had not been resentenced. His resentencing had been
rescheduled multiple times at his request, and it was finally to occur on August 17,
2018. On August 16, 2018, the State filed a motion for reconsideration of the order
granting Morgan's rule 3.800(a) motion. The State premised its motion on the argument
that Atwell had been receded from in State v. Michel, 257 So. 3d 3 (Fla. 2018), and that
therefore Morgan was not in the class of defendants entitled to resentencing pursuant to
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Miller. Morgan's resentencing was again continued, and after a hearing on the State's
motion for reconsideration, the court granted the motion, vacated its previous order, and
denied Morgan's rule 3.800(a) motion. The order on appeal was rendered November
30, 2018, more than a year and a half after the initial order granting Morgan's motion
had been entered.
Morgan contends that the initial postconviction order granting his motion
was a final appealable order and that the State's dismissal of its appeal coupled with the
lapse of time in filing the motion for reconsideration rendered the postconviction court
without jurisdiction to reconsider its prior ruling and order. Morgan finds support in
Simmons v. State, 274 So. 3d 468 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Like Morgan, Simmons was a
juvenile sentenced to life in prison who filed a rule 3.800(a) motion seeking
resentencing based on Miller and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). The
postconviction court granted Simmons' motion and ordered resentencing. However,
before Simmons could be resentenced the postconviction court learned of changes in
the law with regard to juvenile sentencing. And "[s]even months after granting
Simmons' postconviction motion, the court entered an order rescinding its original order
and denying the motion." Simmons, 274 So. 3d at 470. Simmons appealed from that
order, and the First District concluded that "[b]ecause the order granting resentencing
became final when neither party moved for rehearing or appealed the order, the trial
court had no authority to enter a second order rescinding the original order." Id. The
First District stated that it "ha[d] twice held that an order on a motion for postconviction
relief is final and appealable even when resentencing has not occurred," citing Slocum
v. State, 95 So. 3d 911 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012), and Jordan v. State, 81 So. 3d 595 (Fla.
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1st DCA 2012), and that "the supreme court has agreed," citing Taylor v. State, 140 So.
3d 526 (Fla. 2014). Simmons, 274 So. 3d at 470.
In Jordan, the First District "addressed for the first time whether a
postconviction order granting resentencing is final when resentencing has not yet
occurred." Simmons, 274 So. 3d at 470-71. On appeal from an order denying Jordan's
rule 3.800(a) motion following the State's motion for reconsideration of the initial order
granting Jordan's motion, the First District held that the initial order granting
resentencing was final "because it brought the postconviction proceedings to an end"
and that the postconviction court lacked jurisdiction to reconsider it where the State's
motion was untimely. Jordan, 81 So. 3d at 596.1
Jordan relied upon State v. White,
470 So. 2d 1377 (Fla. 1985), which addressed rule 3.850 and writs of coram nobis and
Like the supreme court's White decision, the Taylor decision relied upon
by the First District arose in the context of a rule 3.850 motion for postconviction relief.
There, the supreme court held "that an order disposing of a postconviction motion which
partially denies and partially grants relief is a final order for purposes of appeal, even if
the relief granted requires subsequent action in the underlying case, such as
resentencing." 140 So. 3d at 528. The court went on to hold that its conclusion was
"consistent with [the] recent amendments to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850,
effective July 1, 2013, which added subsection (f)(8)(C), stating that '[t]he order issued
1Unlike Jordan and Simmons, Slocum addressed the timeliness of an
appeal from an order denying in part a motion for postconviction relief filed pursuant to
rule 3.850 as it related to attacks on Slocum's convictions and granting the motion as it
related to Slocum's sentences. Slocum, 95 So. 3d at 912.
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after the evidentiary hearing shall resolve all the claims raised in the motion and shall be
considered the final order for purposes of appeal.' " Id. at 529 (second alteration in
original) (quoting In re Amendments to the Fla. Rules of Criminal Procedure & the Fla.
Rules of Appellate Procedure, 132 So. 3d 734, 750 (Fla. 2013)). Unlike rule 3.850, rule
3.800 does not state that an order resolving "all the claims raised in the motion" shall be
a final order.
We note that subsequent to the issuance of Simmons, and in reliance on
it, the Fourth District issued Jones v. State, 279 So. 3d 172 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019). The
Fifth District has also followed Simmons. See Magill v. State, 287 So. 3d 1262 (Fla. 5th
DCA 2019). But see Maysonet v. State, 722 So. 2d 230, 231 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998)
(dismissing appeal from order granting in part and denying in part rule 3.800(a) motion
where resentencing had not occurred and concluding that "there is additional judicial
labor that will occur").
This court has held that a "rule 3.800(a) motion d[oes] not create a new,
separate proceeding. Instead, it is a motion filed in continuation of the original criminal
proceeding." State v. Rudolf, 821 So. 2d 385, 386 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002); see also
Stewart v. State, 647 So. 2d 219, 220 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994) (dismissing appeal from order
denying in part and granting in part rule 3.800(a) motion where resentencing had not yet
occurred and concluding that "it is clear that the trial court's judicial labor has not yet
ended because [the appellant] has not been resentenced . . . and . . . only after the
[postconviction] court resentences [the appellant] will we have the jurisdiction to
determine whether the 'final and irreparable effect' of any new sentence violates his
right to the imposition of a legal sentence" (footnote omitted)). We have further held
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that an order granting a rule 3.800(a) motion "is essentially a nonfinal order entered
after the entry of an appealable final order" and "that Florida Rule of Appellate
Procedure 9.130(a)(4), permitting appeals of nonfinal orders entered after final orders,
does not apply in this criminal context." Rudolf, 821 So. 2d at 386. "To the extent that
section 924.066(2) . . . seeks to confer jurisdiction for district courts to review adverse
rulings granting or denying collateral or postconviction relief, that statute can apply
constitutionally only to final orders." Id. Rudolf agreed with State v. Delvalle, 745 So.
2d 541, 542 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999):
[W]hile the trial court has granted the Defendant's 3.800(a)
motion, it has not and will not grant the Defendant any
collateral relief until it resentences him. The order granting
the Defendant's 3.800(a) motion is not a final order, as
judicial labor, i.e., resentencing, is still required. Until the
Defendant is resentenced, this Court cannot properly
determine whether the trial court has erred. Accordingly, the
State's appeal is dismissed without prejudice to the State to
timely appeal the resentencing order.
The Third District has likewise held that in the context of a rule 3.800 motion "judicial
labor is not completed until the defendant is resentenced," such that "[t]he time for
appeal d[oes] not begin to run until the resentencing order [i]s entered." State v. Huerta,
38 So. 3d 883, 884-85 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010); see also Adams v. State, 949 So. 2d 1125,
1126 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007).
The conclusions in Rudolf, Huerta, and Delvalle are supported by the
language of rule 9.140(c)(1), listing the orders that the State may appeal to include
orders "granting relief under Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.801, 3.850, 3.851, or
3.853." Fla. R. App. P. 9.140(c)(1)(J). Notably absent is the right to appeal from a rule
3.800(a) order. "The Florida Supreme Court has explained that 'the State's right to
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appeal an adverse ruling is a limited one that is strictly governed by statute, rule and
overriding constitutional principles.' The State's right to appeal in criminal cases should
be construed narrowly." State v. Knight, 931 So. 2d 254, 255 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006)
(quoting State v. Gaines, 770 So. 2d 1221, 1227 n.8 (Fla. 2000)). Rule 9.140 also
permits the State to appeal from orders "imposing an unlawful or illegal sentence or
imposing a sentence outside the range permitted by the sentencing guidelines; . . .
imposing a sentence outside the range recommended by the sentencing guidelines; . . .
or as otherwise provided by general law for final orders." Fla. R. App. P. 9.140(c)(1)(M),
(N), (P). The rule clearly contemplates that the State may appeal from a rule 3.800(a)
order after resentencing where the sentence is unlawful, illegal, or outside the range of
the guidelines. And the provision permitting appeals "as otherwise provided by general
law for final orders" is inapplicable to pre-resentencing orders on rule 3.800(a) motions
under this court's analysis in Rudolf.
The supreme court's Taylor opinion does not indicate that Rudolf, Huerta,
and Delvalle are no longer good law; in fact, despite being cited in the Fifth District
opinion quashed by Taylor, Taylor did not cite or address the Rudolf or Huerta opinions.
Compare Taylor, 140 So. 3d at 527-29, with Taylor v. State, 96 So. 3d 989, 992 (Fla.
5th DCA 2012). Nonetheless, it appears that at least the Fourth District has determined
that Delvalle is no longer good law in light of Taylor because it has recently relied upon
Simmons and held that with regard to a rule 3.800(a) motion an "order granting
resentencing became final and non-appealable when neither party moved for rehearing
or appealed. After that, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to vacate that order."
German v. State, 284 So. 3d 572, 573 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019) (addressing a rule 3.800(a)
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motion and order); see also State v. West, 262 So. 3d 818, 819 (Fla. 4th DCA) ("The
State appeals an order granting the defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence.
We reverse."), review denied, No. SC19-236, 2019 WL 2428452 (Fla. June 11, 2019).
We recognize that Taylor states that "postconviction proceedings and
resentencing proceedings are separate, legally discrete proceedings," Taylor, 140 So.
3d at 529, but we find it distinguishable and not controlling over the issue presented in
this case. We also do not believe that Taylor implicitly overruled Rudolf, Huerta, and
Delvalle despite its broad references to "postconviction orders" and resentencing.
Taylor addressed rule 3.850 collateral attacks on convictions rather than only illegal
sentences under rule 3.800(a). We further note that, although it predates Taylor, the
supreme court in State v. Gaines, 770 So. 2d 1221, 1224 (Fla. 2000), cited Delvalle for
its holding that rule 3.800(a) orders granting relief are not final appealable orders where
"judicial labor, i.e., resentencing, is still required." See also Farina v. State, 191 So. 3d
454, 459 (Fla. 2016) (Canady, J., dissenting) (citing Delvalle for same).
Under Rudolf, the State could not appeal the order granting Morgan's rule
3.800(a) motion until resentencing had occurred. Thus, the postconviction court
retained jurisdiction over the case. Moreover, the order granting the motion was a
nonfinal order, and courts may reconsider their interlocutory, nonfinal orders at any time
they have jurisdiction and before a final judgment or order has been rendered. Here,
the court was within its authority to reconsider its ruling on Morgan's motion until a final
order—after resentencing—had been rendered. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.192 ("Nothing in
this rule precludes the trial court from exercising its inherent authority to reconsider a
ruling while the court has jurisdiction of the case."); see also Silvestrone v. Edell, 721
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So. 2d 1173, 1175 (Fla. 1998) ("[T]he trial court retains inherent authority to reconsider
and, if deemed appropriate, alter or retract any of its nonfinal rulings prior to entry of the
final judgment or order terminating an action . . . ."); Taufer v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,
278 So. 3d 335, 336-37 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019) ("Motions for reconsideration apply to
'nonfinal, interlocutory orders, and are based on a trial court's "inherent authority to
reconsider and, if deemed appropriate, alter or retract any of its nonfinal rulings prior to
entry of the final judgment or order terminating an action . . . ." ' " (quoting Seigler v.
Bell, 148 So. 3d 473, 478-79 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014))).2
We affirm the order denying Morgan's rule 3.800(a) motion upon
reconsideration based on the motion filed by the State. Under Rudolf, the State could
not appeal until resentencing had occurred and a final order rendered. We continue to
hold that an order granting a rule 3.800(a) motion is not a final appealable order. Thus,
the postconviction court had jurisdiction at the time the State sought reconsideration of
the ruling; the ruling was an interlocutory order which the court had inherent authority to
reconsider upon request by a party. And at the time of the request for reconsideration,
the law had changed such that Morgan was not entitled to the resentencing originally
granted and therefore the motion to correct illegal sentence was properly denied.
2We note that the First District concluded that "[b]ecause Simmons sought
postconviction relief under rule 3.800(a), rule 3.192 did not authorize the postconviction
court to reconsider its earlier ruling." Simmons, 274 So. 3d at 471-72. The rehearing
provisions of rule 3.192 clearly do not apply to postconviction proceedings: "This rule
shall not apply to postconviction proceedings pursuant to rule 3.800(a), 3.801, 3.850,
3.851, or 3.853." Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.192. However, the final statement of the rule,
addressing reconsideration of interlocutory rulings, refers to "inherent authority" and
further states that nothing in the rule—including its inapplicability to postconviction
proceedings—is an exception to the court's inherent authority: "Nothing in this rule
precludes the trial court from exercising its inherent authority to reconsider a ruling while
the court has jurisdiction of the case." Id.
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Morgan does not dispute that the law as it currently stands does not
permit resentencing for defendants like Morgan who received life sentences with the
possibility of parole. See Franklin v. State, 258 So. 3d 1239, 1241 (Fla. 2018)
("Florida's statutory parole process fulfills Graham's requirement that juveniles be given
a 'meaningful opportunity' to be considered for release during their natural life based
upon 'normal parole factors,' as it includes initial and subsequent parole reviews based
upon individualized considerations before the Florida Parole Commission that are
subject to judicial review." (citations omitted)), cert. denied, Franklin v. Florida, 139 S.
Ct. 2646 (2019).
Outcome: We therefore certify conflict with Jordan, Simmons, Jones, Magill, and
the cases which rely upon them to conclude that orders granting rule 3.800 motions areappealable by the State prior to resentencing and that where no appeal is taken the trialcourt lose jurisdiction to reconsider its ruling.
Affirmed; conflict certified.