Requests to Dismiss a Lawyer on Direct Appeal of a Death Sentence
In Davis v. State, 789 So. 2d 978, 979-80 (Fla. 2001), the Court announced the policy "that we will not accept pro se filings in which there are claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, requests to dismiss appellate counsel, or which supplement bases for relief from appellants on direct appeal of a death sentence."
The court premised this policy on the fact that a criminal defendant does not have a federal constitutional right to self-representation on an initial appeal of right, see id. at 980 (citing Martinez v. Court of Appeal of California, 528 U.S. 152, 145 L. Ed. 2d 597, 120 S. Ct. 684, (2000)), and our conclusion that "in Florida there is no state constitutional right to proceed pro se in direct appeals in capital cases." Id. at 981.
The court acknowledged in Davis that "the decision to allow a convicted defendant the ability to proceed pro se in appellate proceedings is vested in the sound discretion of the appellate court." Id.
However, the court also noted the necessity for curtailing, as a matter of policy, the pro se activity of defendants in direct appeals in capital cases, because we were seeing an increase in pro se filings in such cases. See id.
Thus, the court determined in Davis that "pro se filings in direct appeals in capital cases in which there are claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, requests to dismiss appellate counsel, or which supplement bases for relief would be docketed and then stricken." Id.