Is a Mere Change of Mind Sufficient Basis for Setting Aside a Previous Waiver ?
In James v. State, 974 So. 2d 365 (Fla. 2008), the Supreme Court of Florida did not allow the reappointment of counsel to resume postconviction proceedings after a prior waiver of postconviction counsel and proceedings.
Specifically, James filed a postconviction motion in 1998 but then filed a pro se notice of voluntary dismissal of the postconviction proceedings in 2003. James, 974 So. 2d at 366.
"The trial court in 2003 held a hearing to determine whether James was competent and fully understood the consequences of dismissing the postconviction motion filed on his behalf." Id.
"The 2003 hearing was conducted in complete accord with this Court's opinion in Durocher." Id. at 368. After the hearing, the trial court discharged postconviction counsel and allowed James to withdraw the postconviction motion. Id. at 366.
Then, in 2005, James changed his mind, and collateral counsel filed a motion in the trial court to reinstate the postconviction proceedings. Id.
After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to reinstate. Id.
On appeal of that denial, this Court noted that James was not attacking the validity of the prior waiver. Id. at 368.
Instead, "James has simply changed his mind and has decided he wants 'to take up his appeals again.' " Id. This Court held that "a mere change of mind is an insufficient basis for setting aside a previous waiver." Id. Therefore, this Court affirmed the trial court's denial of James' motion to reinstate postconviction proceedings. Id.