Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.
Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES vs STATE OF FLORIDA AND BRYANT ALEXI RODRIGUEZ-VIRELLA
Case Number: 19-1026
Judge: Meredith Sasso
Court: DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA FIFTH DISTRICT
Plaintiff's Attorney: T. Shane Deboard, of Department of Children and Families
Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and, Douglas T. Squire, Assistant Attorney General
Call 888-354-4529 if you need a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida.
Legal Suites and Virtual Offices In Downtown Tulsa
Petroleum Club Building
601 South Boulder
918-582-3993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Petitioner, Department of Children and Families, petitions this Court for a writ of certiorari to quash a circuit court order pronouncing Bryant Alexi Rodriguez-Virella (“Rodriguez-Virella”) incompetent to proceed and involuntarily committing him to the Department for treatment pursuant to section 916.13, Florida Statutes (2018). The State concedes error. We agree that the circuit court departed from the essential requirements of law in entering the order involuntarily committing Rodriguez-Virella because the order is not supported by competent, substantial evidence. We, therefore, grant the petition and quash the order under review. Section 916.13 governs the involuntary commitment of criminal defendants charged with a felony who are adjudicated incompetent to proceed due to mental illness. Before involuntarily committing a criminal defendant, that section requires the circuit court to find, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant both suffers from a mental illness and is likely to be restored to competency in the reasonably foreseeable future. “Under section 916.13, the findings necessary for commitment must be based on experts' opinions because they involve the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.” Dep’t of Child. & Fams. v. Lotton, 172 So. 3d 983, 987–88 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). Where competent, substantial evidence does not support the circuit court's finding regarding competency or involuntary commitment, the circuit court departs from the essential requirements of law. Id.; M.H. v. State, 901 So. 2d 197, 200 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005). Here, the circuit court adjudged Rodriguez-Virella incompetent due to mental illness. In support of its finding, the court relied on two expert reports. However, while the experts noted Rodriguez-Virella suffered from an intellectual disability and had a history of ADHD and bipolar disorder, neither expert opined that Rodriguez-Virella was
incompetent due to mental illness. See § 916.106(14), Fla. Stat. (2018) (defining “mental illness” and specifically excluding defendants with only intellectual disabilities); see also § 916.302, Fla. Stat. (2018) (providing for involuntary commitment of defendant charged with felony determined incompetent due to intellectual disability). Similarly, neither expert opined that Rodriguez-Virella met the criteria for competency restoration. Finally, while the parties agreed Rodriguez-Virella was incompetent to proceed, their stipulation cannot circumvent the statutory requirements for commitment to the Department. See State ex rel. City & Cty. Holding Co. v. Bd. of Pub. Instruction of Broward Cty., 163 So. 8, 11 (Fla. 1935) (“[A] stipulation . . . might be enforceable inter parties, [but] cannot extend the operative effect thereof to the prejudice of legal rights of third parties . . . .”).
Outcome: We grant the petition for writ of certiorari and quash the commitment order.