October 2019 Summaries

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October 2, 2019 

SC18-562 The Florida Bar v. Stephen Bruce Rakusin

Statewide - starts at 9:00 a.m.

In this attorney disciplinary case, The Florida Bar accuses Mr. Rakusin of numerous violations of the ethical standards for lawyers, including filing a frivolous complaint in the trial court based on claims that were false and untrue. The judge-referee recommends that this Court disbar Mr. Rakusin from the practice of law and that he pay the Bar’s costs in the disciplinary proceedings. The Florida Bar supports that recommendation. Mr. Rakusin argues that the Bar filed the complaint outside the statute of limitations and that the ethical complaint against him should be dismissed.

Appearance for Respondent: Kevin P. Tynan of Richardson & Tynan, P.L.C., Tamarac, 954-721-7300
Appearance for The Florida Bar: Linda I. Gonzalez, Sunrise, 954-835-0233

SC18-896 David James Martin v. State of Florida

Clay County - starts about 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Martin was convicted of the first-degree murder of Jacey McWilliams, who was fatally beaten in 2008. The jury voted 9-3 to recommend a death sentence, and the trial court condemned Mr. Martin. This Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, and Mr. Martin filed a postconviction motion in the trial court. The trial court denied Mr. Martin’s claim of juror misconduct and several ineffective assistance of counsel claims but granted him a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst v. State. Mr. Martin appeals the denial of his guilt-phase claims.

Appearance for Appellant: Rick A. Sichta, Jacksonville, 904-329-7246
Appearance for Appellee: Charmaine M. Millsaps, Asst. Attorney General, 850-414-3300

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SC18-1133 Rodney Renard Newberry v. State of Florida

Duval County - starts about 10:20 a.m.

Mr. Newberry was convicted of the first-degree murder of Terrese Pernell Stevens, who was fatally shot in 2014 during an armed robbery. The jury voted 8-4 to recommend a death sentence, and the trial court sentenced Mr. Newberry to death. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed his conviction, vacated the death sentence, and remanded for a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst v. State. At the second penalty phase proceeding, the jury unanimously recommended the death penalty, and the resentencing court imposed the sentence of death. This is the direct appeal of Mr. Newberry’s resentencing. He raises five claims and challenges the proportionality of his death sentence.

Appearance for Appellant: Richard M. Bracy, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-606-1000
Appearance for Appellee: Michael T. Kennett, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3595

October 3, 2019 

SC18-806 Angel Santiago-Gonzalez v. State of Florida

Statewide - starts about 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Santiago-Gonzalez pleaded guilty in 2016 to the first-degree murder of Donald Burns. At the time of the 2014 attack that resulted in Burns' death, both men were inmates at the Reception and Medical Center, a Florida Department of Corrections facility located in Lake Butler. Following a non-jury penalty phase proceeding, Santiago-Gonzalez was sentenced to death. This direct appeal follows.

Appearance for Appellant: Megan Long, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-606-8500
Appearance for Appellee: Janine D. Robinson, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3606