IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY
APPELLATE DIVISION

TAJHON WILSON,

††††††††††† Appellant,

vs.†††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† Appeal No. CRC 00-13240 CFANO

STATE OF FLORIDA,

††††††††††† Appellee.

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Opinion filed June 5, 2001.

Appeal from verdict, judgment and sentence Pinellas County Court

County Judge J. Thomas McGrady

Jocelyn Juarez, Esq.
Assistant Public Defender
Attorney for Appellant

Jason Stedman, Esq.
Assistant State Attorney
Attorney for Appellee

ORDER AND OPINION

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendantís appeal of a post jury-trial verdict, judgement and sentence that defendant argues was the result of the trial courtís exclusion of relevant evidence, inclusion of irrelevant evidence, repeated prejudicial violations of the defendantís motion in limine, erroneous denial of the defendantís Motion to Dismiss based on collateral estoppel, erroneous denial of the defendantís Motions for Mistrial based on the violations of the motion in limine, and cumulative errors.† After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the verdict, judgment and sentence.

††††††††††† On September 29, 1999, the State filed an information charging the defendant with one count of Exposure of Sexual Organs in violation of Sec. 800.03. Fla. Stat. (1999).† The State alleged that on August 13, 1999, while in custody at the Pinellas County Jail, the defendant exposed himself and masturbated in front of a tour group.† Prior to the trialís commencement, the defendant presented a Motion to Dismiss based on collateral estoppel.† Defendantís motion argued that on June 26, 2000, the defendant had another jury trial on a charge of Exposure of Sexual Organs for a separate incident, which also occurred, while the defendant was in custody at the Pinellas County Jail.† The defendant had argued to the first jury that the jail was not a public place and was found not guilty.† In the Motion to Dismiss, the defendant argued that the prior juryís not guilty verdict collaterally estopped the State from proceeding with the case at hand.† The trial court, however, disagreed and denied the defendantís motion.

Also prior to trial, both the State and defendant presented motions in limine.† The trial court granted the Stateís motion to preclude any reference to the alleged victimsí occupation. The court granted the defendantís motion to exclude any evidence ďregarding other incidents involving the defendant, particularly any references to other incidents involving exposure of sexual organs, masturbation, or any other disruptive or bad behavior.Ē

After the close of the Stateís case, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal based on the premise that the Pinellas County Jail is not a public place.† The court denied the defendantís motion.† During closing arguments, the defendant moved the court several times for mistrial based on cumulative errors.† All motions for mistrial were denied.† Pursuant to the juryís verdict, the trial court adjudicated the defendant guilty.

The defendant raises four issues on appeal.† First, defendant alleges that the court erred in denying his Motion to Dismiss based on collateral estoppel. ďA motion to dismiss in a criminal case is analogous to a motion made for summary judgment in civil cases and as such should be granted sparingly.Ē† State v. Ortiz, 766 So.2d 1137 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000).† Furthermore, ďwhen considering a motion to dismiss, all questions and inferences from the facts must be resolved in favor of the state.Ē† State v. Paleveda, 745 So.2d 1026, 1027 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999).

In denying the motion, the trial court found that the trial judge in the first case did not make a finding of law that the jail was not a public place.† Furthermore, the jury in the first case could have rationally reached its verdict without finding that the jail was not a public place.† Collateral estoppel, therefore, is inapplicable and the trial courtís denial of the motion to dismiss is affirmed.

The second issue raised by the defendant is that the trial court erred to the substantial prejudice of the defendant by granting the Stateís motion in limine excluding testimony regarding the victimís occupations.† A trial courtís ruling on a motion in limine is viewed under the abuse of discretion standard.† State v. Polak, 598 So. 2d 150 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). Discretion is abused only where no reasonable person would agree with the trial courtís decision. Banks v. State, 732 So.2d 1065 (Fla. 1999).

For evidence to be relevant, it must have some logical tendency to prove or disprove a fact, which is of consequence to the outcome of the case. Stephens. V. State, 2001 WL 252160 (Fla.).† The defendant wanted to introduce testimony regarding the victimís occupations as mental healthcare providers because he claims it was relevant to show they ďwould have been familiar or at least accustomed to the Appellantís erratic behavior and not quite as sensitive as the State would have them believe.Ē† There is no factual foundation to support the assertion that as mental healthcare providers they would be less likely to be offended by the defendantís actions.† Whether as mental healthcare providers they may have observed similar behavior is not relevant to whether they were offended in this case.† Therefore, this court finds no abuse of discretion by the trial judge in excluding testimony regarding the victimís occupations.

The third issue raised is that the trial court erred in denying a mistrial after the Stateís witness repeatedly violated appellantís motion in limine regarding the defendantís prior bad behavior.† A trial courtís ruling on a Motion for Mistrial is also subject to an abuse of discretion standard of review.† Goodwin v. State, 751 So.2d 537 (Fla. 1999).

A corrections officer corporal testified for the State that he worked in corrections, south division in maximum security.† He testified to the premises and the physical outlay of the Pinellas County Jail facility.† The statements were not offered for the sole reason to attack the credibility of the defendant and suggest his propensity to commit crimes.† They were statements identifying the defendantís location in the jail by a detention deputy.† This Court finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by ruling that the corporalís testimony did not unduly prejudice the defendant and denying defendantís Motion for Mistrial.

Defendantís fourth issue on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying the appellantís motion for mistrial based on cumulative errors.† All incidents raised by defendant as cumulative errors were statements made by the State in closing argument.† The defendant concedes that each of the statements made alone were not enough to constitute harmful error.† This Court agrees.† However, this Court disagrees that the cumulative effect of the sum of the statements contributed to the juryís guilty verdict.† Because we find that the statements complained of were not so prejudicial, inflammatory or egregious to warrant a new trial, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendantís motion for mistrial.

The fifth and final issue raised by the defendant on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying the defendantís motion for Judgment of Acquittal based on the premise that the county jail is not a public place.† This Court finds this argument totally without merit.† This court will not engage in second-guessing the factual determinations made by the jury.† To convict the defendant of the charge accused, the jury had to find, among other elements, that the defendant exposed or exhibited his sexual organs in a public place or on the private premises of another or so near the private premises of another so as to be seen from those private premises.† The State put on the testimony of Lt. Jacobs specifically to show that the Pinellas County Jail was a public place.† This Court finds that there is competent evidence to support the verdict and judgment and that it cannot be reasonably argued that the trial court erred in refusing to remove the case from the jury.

It is therefore,†

††††††††††† ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the verdict, judgment and sentence are affirmed.†

††††††††††† DONE AND ORDERED in chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, on this 5th day of June, 2001.

_________________________
W. DOUGLAS BAIRD
Circuit Judge
Primary Appellate Judge


___________________________
NANCY MOATE LEY
Circuit Judge


___________________________
R. TIMOTHY PETER
Circuit Judge

 

Copies furnished to:

Jocelyn Juarez, Esq.
Assistant Public Defender

Jason Stedman, Esq.
Assistant State Attorney