Val Rodriguez has argued in front of Florida appeals courts and the Florida Supreme Court, and has helped change state law:
May 14, 2008: The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the lower district court’s ruling that reversed the capital sexual battery conviction of Rodolfo Contreras, who was given a mandatory life sentence for allegedly abusing his daughter when she was 9 years old; at the time of his trial, the State violated his constitutional right of confrontation by not presenting the testimony of the alleged victim, but instead played a videotaped interview of her.
August 11, 2006: Michael Wallace was finally set free, and his original 20 year sentence was reduced to time-served, based on the success of two appeals handled by Valentin Rodriguez and the local public defender’s office. The first appeal helped define the parameters of the 10-20-Life law, and found that prosecutors had to properly prove the elements to trigger the law, which they had not done in Wallace’s case. His 20 year sentence was reduced to 10 years. Not giving up, there was a second appeal, which challenged the original jury instructions on the ground that a sentence could not be enhanced unless the jury was specifically asked to find that the enhancement applied. The amended 10 year sentence was then reduced to time served in August, 2006. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Judge Sets Free Man Who Threw Molotov, published on August 11, 2006).
July 25, 2002: An appeals court ruled that a judge had the authority to sentence a youth as a youthful offender even if the youth was facing the mandatory sentencing provisions of 10-20-Life. Vincent Beatrice had been one of the first persons charged in Palm Beach County in July 1999, with attempted murder, under the 10-20-Life statute, and faced life. In the end, a jury convicted him of a lesser offense, and he was given a 10 year sentence, and because of his appeal, the court said that judges could even give youthful offender sentences for such cases. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Ruling Opens Way for Young Convicts to Avoid 10-20-Life, published on July 25, 2002).
Val Rodriguez also argued a case of first impression in the Florida Supreme Court for a father who had been deprived of his parental rights after a he failed to receive competent representation during the parental rights termination trial. He also successfully defended that same father when he was charged with criminal charges in conjunction with alleged neglect of his two sons. (E.T. v. State of Florida, 910 So.2d 901). As a result, the father who faced 10 years imprisonment was acquitted of all charges, and went free. Furthermore, the Florida Supreme Court directed that the State create more comprehensive rules so that parents who have their rights terminated have due process. All of this hard work led to a state-wide revision of juvenile procedures ensuring due process rights for parents. [Link to Opinion]
Other significant appellate cases that have helped defined Florida criminal law in state courts:
State v. Andrews: (affirming the right of a trial judge to grant a new trial when he disagreed with jury verdict on grounds of fairness), 820 So.2d 1016 (Fla. 4th DCA July 2002); 875 So.2d 686 (Fla. 4th DCA June 2004). As a result of the hard work on this case, Mr. Andrews not only significantly reduced his incarceration period, he was actually compensated by the City of West Palm Beach for the wrongful shooting by law enforcement officers as part of the criminal case. [Link to Opinion]
The Law Offices of Valentin Rodriguez can provide you with a complete list of all types of appellate cases handled, so that you can see how the law has changed as a result of the firm’s hard work in the area of appeals.