Miller v. Florida

PETITIONER: Miller
RESPONDENT: Florida
LOCATION: Highway 80, Solano County, California

DOCKET NO.: 86-5344
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: Florida Supreme Court

CITATION: 482 US 423 (1987)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1987
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1987

ADVOCATES:
Anthony Calvello - on behalf of Petitioner
Joy B. Shearer - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Miller v. Florida

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1987 in Miller v. Florida

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear arguments next in James Miller against Florida, No. 86-5344.

Mr. Calvello, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Anthony Calvello:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Mr. Miller is before you today because he received a longer sentence than was authorized by the law effect at the time of his offense.

The reason for the longer sentence was that Florida changes its sentencing guidelines law to boost the sentences, and applied that change retrospectively to Mr. Miller.

The state says that increasing his sentence retroactively does not matter, because the guidelines are discretionary, or proecedural.

The serious flaw in that argument, as demonstrated in the briefs, is that departure from the guidelines is not discretionary and is not treated as such under Florida law.

This retroactive increase in the punishment imposed upon Mr. Miller is invalid under the ex post facto clause.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Calvello, as a preliminary matter, would you explain something to me about the effect of the concurrent sentences we see by Mr. Miller?

He received a sentence on the burglary and theft counts as well?

Anthony Calvello:

Yes, Your Honor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And did he receive a concurrent sentence of seven years on the burglary county?

Anthony Calvello:

Yes, Your Honor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And the guidelines were not changed as to the burglary?

Anthony Calvello:

Well, Your Honor, as far as the amended guidelines are concerned.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

So what effect would a decision in your favor on the sex offense have?

Presumably the seven years would still stand on the burglary count?

Anthony Calvello:

Oh, no, no.

Let me explain that point.

Under Florida law, the way the guidelines work is that there is a primary offense, which is the most serious offense at the time of the offense... at the time, under the amended guidelines which we say shouldn't apply, but anyway, under the amended guidelines the sexual offense would be the primary offense.

The burglary would be an additional offense, and it's scored and calculated as part of the total picture.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, but if the amendment did not affect the burglary offense, and the guideline was not changed for that, then even if you are correct, would you not look back to the law at the time he was sentenced for burglary, and would that become the primary offense?

Anthony Calvello:

Under the original guidelines?

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Yes.

Anthony Calvello:

That's a possibility, Your Honor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And if that were the case, then the sentence wouldn't change?

Anthony Calvello:

Oh, yes, the sentence would be changed dramatically, because, see, the primary offense would be the most serious offense at the time.

And therefore the burglary would become--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

So even if you're right, the burglary would then be the most important offense?

Anthony Calvello:

--But the sentence would go down to 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 years; the 7 years would be gone.