Bodiford’s case going to Florida Supreme Court!

Check this article out:  Murder sentence upheld by court (Herald Tribune, 10-12-09).

This is my case!  Although we did not get an outright win in the appellate court, the case is still alive.  You can read the actual opinion here:  Merle Frances Zeigler v. State of Florida (2D07-5300).

This is all about a jury instruction, which is the law as is read to the juror by the trial judge, that the jurors have to use to determine whether the State proved it case.  Jurors listen to the facts of a case, and right before they deliberate the judge tells them what the law is, and how to apply the facts to that law to render a verdict.  Otherwise, how would a regular citizen know what the specifics of the crime charged are when deciding whether to convict or acquit?  It is a vital part of the trial, and errors in jury instructions often result in reversals.

What the reporter fails to fully explain is that the case is going to the Florida Supreme Court because there is a clear conflict in the law as decided by two different appellate courts.  The Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland seems to be in the minority.  The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee opined year-before-last that the manslaughter jury instruction was wrong.  The Florida Bar committee on criminal jury instructions apparently agreed, and recommended that the manslaughter instruction be changed.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed and actually changed the jury instruction. The old – and arguable wrong – version was given in my client’s case at trial.

What that means is that now the Florida Supreme Court will take a look at the case and make a decision as to whether the old (and again, arguably wrong) version should not have been given.  If they deem that the Second District is indeed incorrect, then Ms. Zeigler will get a new trial.

This is an example of what an appellate attorney can do for a defendant in an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation!

Here’s the article link again:  Murder sentence upheld by court | HeraldTribune.com | Sarasota Florida | Southwest Florida’s Information Leader.

2 responses to “Bodiford’s case going to Florida Supreme Court!

  1. I am a family member of Merle and Josh. They did it. They need to be jailed forever. Jesus, Frank died a horrible death. He knew they were killing him. Can you imagine his fear or those last few hours of his life? YOUR CASE? You are just a pawn in the system. You would put YOUR EGO ahead of this man’s life? I have known Josh and merle for years. She ruined her sons. Did you know her other son committed suicide while they were using drugs together. He was 19. Shot himself in front of her. Some wondered if she was more involved in that. She is a corrupted individual. We have had one or two calls from merle, but because she accepts NO responsibilty, after admitting it initially, we have stopped all communication. I implore you to file your motions as you see fit, but please do not pleasure in it.

  2. Thank you for commenting on the post.

    I understand your point. I believe that making sure that even the guiltiest of us all have a fair trial. A fair trial means giving a correct recitation of the law to the jury. Merle’s “victory” on this point may ultimately prove insignificant to her own case (based on the evidence), but it is a small part of a larger issue in Florida.