In America, the judicial system is established to ensure legality is held to the highest of standards, but Florida has turned too many blind-eyes away from clear illegalities. The legislature gave the District Courts the greenlight to escape correcting such injustices by simply creating the Per Curiam Affirmed (PCA) legislation, which is a proverbial brick wall that blocks access to higher courts without a written explanation.
Thousands upon thousands of offenders present claims on appeal to Florida's District Courts of Appeal to only receive a paper in the mail that says their appeal has been PCA-ed (denied without explanation, a.k.a. "rubber-stamped"). Under this legislation, it is never clear whether the District Court even read their claim and there is no accountability as the Courts are not obligated to give an opinion or explanation as to why they have denied one's appeal.
Such gross giving of unaccountable power should be deemed a violation of the Constitution's due process rights. Being forced to understand the complexities of the law can be very frustrating for individuals who, many times, barely have an education. This is why "a court not having to explain why it has decided to deny a claim" should go against the fundamental fairness of a system that is supposed to stand on integrity and transparency. Guilty or innocent, the right to know the how and why your claim is denied should be guaranteed.
When the courts deny without explanation it creates an endless line of unnecessary spending of time and money and allows the unexplained claims to continue replaying themselves over and over again. At the very least, the Court should be forced to give a written explanation to the Defendant (they're sending them a piece of mail already, just add the explanation) and they can save judicial efficiency by simply not having to publish the reason.
The District Courts claim they only PCA (deny without explanation) claims that have no merit, yet some District Courts PCA over 70 percent of all claims they hear... or better said, fail to hear. They claim no merit, thus no response, and out of that 70 percent you will find dismissals like that of Alfred Rhiner v. State, case number: 2D19-4005 (2nd DCA, August 19, 2020), where the Second District Court dismissed his claim with a PCA.
Somehow three Appellate Judges chose to disregard the fact that both the State Attorney and the Judge of the lower court conceded that his claim was valid and that he had an illegal sentence... yet somehow the Court would deny his claim sending him to the Second District Court of Florida.
The State recognized the illegal sentence, yet still requested the judge to deny it (which is utterly unethical), the judge even though he states on record "that there does appear to be a discrepancy...", and that "the Defendant's original sentence is patently illegal and one that I cannot accept" decided to deny it (which is even more unethical) and the District Court would follow behind him with a PCA (which is also just as unethical).
A legal system that is set up to uphold legality cannot be caught in illegality, but with the PCA legislation, our legal system fears no such accountability. Those who get PCA-ed are left without living a Shakespearean truth, "To be or not to be, that is the question. Is it nobler in the mind to accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing in them?"
The legislation that supports the PCA controlling power should be deemed illegal for violating the constitutional protections of having full access to the courts. There is something seriously wrong with the fundamental fairness when a claim is conceded to as valid (no adversarial opposition), and yet the court can still deny it knowing they have a 70 percent chance that the District Court will likely PCA it. Who would not take the odds of having a 70 percent chance of winning?!
The Circuit Court can simply kill all progression toward legal correction by "chancing" the District Court will PCA the Defendant's claim. Such carte blanche legislation should be immediately repealed to curtail the future deterioration of a justice system that has been created to uphold legality. For any higher court to disregard both prosecution and lower court conceding to a claim does serious damage to the integrity of our legal system.
The Second District Court of Appeal even addresses how this would seriously affect the integrity of our judicial system:
"Efficiency aside, appellate judges take an oath to uphold the law and the constitution of this state. The citizens of this state properly expect these judges to protect their rights. When reviewing an appeal with a preserved issue, if we discover that a person has been subjected to a patently illegal sentence to which no objection was lodged in the trial court, neither the constitution nor our consciences will allow us to remain silent and hope that the prisoner, untrained in the law, will somehow discover the error and request its correction. If three appellate judges, like a statute of the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys, declined to consider such serious, patent errors, we would jeopardize the public's trust and confidence in the institution of the courts of law." Denson v. State, 711 So.2d 1225 (2 DCA 1998).
We, here at Society-First, ask you to send us your thoughts, testimonies, and solutions concerning the unethical practice of the PCA rubber stamp. The integrity of our judicial system must not ever escape accountability, for when it fails to have to answer for disregarding the law, then we are no longer a country led by the People.