The Commission on Capital Cases was not funded in the FY 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, and the Commission ceased operations on June 30, 2011. This site and the Commission website are being retained to provide access to historical materials.

The Registry Attorneys will be continued by the Justice Administration Commission.

These actions are effective July 1, 2011.

Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.


Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
NixonJoe 910610PrivateCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
5/29/2007FSC07-953Motion for Postconviction Relief (3.851 and 3.203) Appeal filed
11/14/2007FSC07-953Intial brief filed
12/26/2007FSC07-953Answer brief filed
2/11/2008FSC07-953Reply brief filed
1/22/2009FSC07-953FSC affirmed the trial court's denial of postconviction relief (3.851) and its finding that Nixon is not mentally retarded (3.203)
2/12/2009FSC07-953Mandate issued
1/17/2010USDC-N10-00020Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed
3/31/2010USDC-N10-00020Response filed
4/30/2010USDC-N10-00020Petitioner's response filed
6/19/2006CC8402324Motion for Postconviction Relief (3.851 and 3.203)
4/26/2007CC8402324 Motion for Postconviction Relief (3.851 and 3.203) denied

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates thisinformation regularly. This information, however, is subject to change and maynot reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied uponfor statistical or legal purposes.


NIXON, Joe Elton (B/M)

DC#    910610

DOB:  08/23/61


Second Judicial Circuit, Leon County Case# 84-2324-CF

Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable J. Lewis Hall, Jr.

Trial Attorneys:  Michael M. Corin – Assistant PublicDefender

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Whitney T. Strickland –Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Eric M. Freedman andBlanka K. Wolfe – Private


Date of Offense:  08/12/84

Date of Sentence:  07/30/85


Circumstances of the Offense:


On 08/12/84, Jeanne Bickner, the victim, went to a localmall to have lunch with friends. After lunch, she was seen in the parking lotgiving jumper cables to a black man from the trunk of her car, an orange MGconvertible. The events, according to the taped confession Joe Nixon gavepolice, occurred as follows: Nixon had asked Bickner to take him to his uncle’shouse because he was having car trouble, which Bickner agreed.  While Bicknerwas driving, Nixon hit her in the face causing her to stop the car. Nixonproceeded to force Bickner into the trunk of the car. He then drove to asecluded wooded area. He took Bickner from the car and tied her to a tree withjumper cables. The two then talked about their lives. During this period,Bickner offered to give Nixon money or sign over her car to him; she begged himnot to kill her. Nixon began to burn some of Bickner’s personal belongings andproceeded to add the convertible top of the car to the burning pile. Nixon thenplaced a paper bag over Bickner’s head and, before he drove away, he threw theburning top of the car onto Bickner setting her on fire. The medical examinertestified that Bickner was alive at the time she was set on fire, and that thefire was the cause of her death.


On Monday, 8/13/84, a couple that was passing through thewoods found Bickner’s remains. They reported the scene to the police. Bicknerwas found in a seated position by a pine tree. She had been secured to the treeby jumper cables that were tied around her waist. Her left arm was tied toanother tree. On Tuesday, 8/14/84, Bickner’s car was found in a drainage ditch.The interior and trunk were gutted by fire.


On 8/14/84, Nixon was arrested. Wanda Robinson, Nixon’sgirlfriend, and his brother, John, had given information to the police thatresulted in the arrest. John told the police that Nixon had admitted to killinga white woman by tying her to a tree with jumper cables and burning her. BothJohn and Robinson told the police that they had seen Nixon driving the victim’scar the previous day and on the morning of 8/14/84. Nixon told both of themthat he was going to burn the car. Both also stated that Nixon had shown themtwo of Bickner’s rings and that he later stated that he had pawned the rings.


Testimony at the trial revealed that Nixon had attempted tosell the MG prior to burning it. In addition, a pawnshop receipt was foundsigned by Nixon for both rings and Nixon’s palm print was found on the lid ofthe trunk of the MG.


Trial Summary:


08/29/84         Indicted as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder (Jeanne Bickner)

                                   CountII:         Felony Kidnapping

                                   CountIII:        Robbery with no Firearm orDeadly Weapon

                                   Count IV:        Arson Willfully Damaging aDwelling

09/10/84         Pled not guilty.

07/22/85         Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

07/25/85         Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2

07/30/85         Sentenced as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder (Jeanne Bickner) – Death

                                   CountII:         Felony Kidnapping – Life

                                   CountIII:        Robbery with no Firearm orDeadly Weapon – 15 years

                                   CountIV:        Arson Willfully Damaging aDwelling – 15 years


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 67,583

572 So. 2d 1336


09/03/85         Appeal filed

05/20/86         FSC relinquished jurisdiction to trial court for appointment of counsel

10/27/87         FSC relinquished jurisdiction for evidentiary hearing due to an ineffectivecounsel claim

01/15/88         Trial court returned jurisdiction to Supreme Court to allow appellant to seekclarification on how the evidentiary hearing should be conducted

10/04/88         FSC issued order outlining the procedure to be used in the evidentiary hearing

02/01/89         FSC order remanding jurisdiction to the trial court for failing to makefindings or conclusions

08/30/89         Evidentiary hearing held

10/04/89         Trial court found that Nixon did not sustain his burden of proof concerning theclaim of ineffective counsel

11/29/90         FSC affirmed sentence and conviction

01/24/91         Rehearing denied

02/25/91         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 90-8493

502 U.S. 854


06/20/91         Petition filed

10/07/91         Petition denied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 84-2324


10/07/93         Motion filed

10/22/97         Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 92,006

758 So. 2d 618


12/15/97         Appeal filed

01/27/00         FSC remanded to Circuit Court for evidentiary hearing

06/09/00         Rehearing denied

07/31/00         Mandate issued


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC# 93,192

758 So. 2d 618


06/09/98         Petition filed

01/27/00         FSC remanded to Circuit Court for evidentiary hearing

06/09/00         Rehearing denied

07/31/00         Mandate issued

07/10/03         Dismissed as moot


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 00-396

531 U.S. 980


09/05/00         Petition filed

11/06/00         Petition denied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion (On Remand fromFSC)

CC# 84-2324-CF


05/11/01         Evidentiary hearing held

09/20/01         Order issued denying the 3.850 Motion


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 01-2486

857 So.2d 172


11/08/01         Appeal filed

07/10/03         FSC remanded for a new trial

10/01/03         Rehearing denied

12/10/03         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 03-931

125 S.Ct. 551


12/22/03         Petition filed

03/01/04         Petition granted

12/13/04         USSC reversed and remanded for reconsideration


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal (On Remand)

FSC# 01-2486

932 So.2d 1009


04/20/06         FSC affirmed the trial court’s denial of Nixon’s 3.850 Motion

06/16/06         Rehearing denied

07/05/06         Mandate issued


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus (On Remand)

FSC# 93,192

932 So.2d 1009


04/20/06         Petition denied

06/16/06         Rehearing denied

07/05/06         Mandate issued


State Circuit Court – 3.851 and 3.203 Motion

CC# 84-2324-CF


06/19/06         Motion filed

07/19/06         Order granting the State to appoint an expert to examine Nixon for mentalretardation

04/26/07         Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 and 3.203 Appeal

FSC# 07-953

2 So.3d 137


05/29/07         Appeal filed

01/22/09         FSC affirmed the decision of the lower court

02/12/09         Mandate issued


United States District Court, Northern District –Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 10-00020



01/17/10          Petition filed


Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition ofthe Sentence:


The primary factor that has delayed this case is the FloridaSupreme Court remanding the case to the trial court on two separate occasionsfor an evidentiary hearing on the claim of ineffective counsel. In addition,the 3.850 Motion was pending in the Circuit Court for four years.  Also,the Habeas was pending for five years.


Case Information:


Nixon filed his Direct Appeal on 09/03/85 to the FloridaSupreme Court. The main claim was ineffective counsel based on comments made bythe counsel during opening statements and closing arguments that conceded guiltwithout record approval of Nixon. Trial counsel utilized this defense in anattempt to seek leniency. Nixon states that the position taken by trial counselis the equivalent of a guilty plea. The Florida Supreme Court remanded the caseto the trial court on 10/27/87 for an evidentiary hearing to decide if Nixonwas informed of and voluntarily consented to this strategy. The trial courtrelinquished jurisdiction of the case on 01/15/88 to seek clarification fromthe Florida Supreme Court on the above order. On 10/04/88, the Florida SupremeCourt handed down an order clarifying the procedure for the evidentiaryhearing:  the evidentiary hearing should be conducted with the rights ofexamination and cross-examination by the defendant and the State and that thedefendant was allowed to present witnesses but not the State. The trial courtdid not interpret the order in such a manner to require findings andconclusions; therefore, the Florida Supreme Court remanded the case to thetrial court on 02/01/89. At this time, the State was allowed to presentwitnesses; however, the State’s examination of Corin, Nixon’s trial counsel,was limited only to the issues addressed during his testimony for the defensedue to the fact that Nixon would not waive attorney-client privilege. On10/04/89, the trial court found that Nixon had not sustained his burden ofproof. On 11/29/89, the Court declined to dispose of this claim withoutprejudice in order to have it raised in a later 3.850 Motion.


Nixon raised three other issues on his Direct Appeal: the prosecutor made an impermissible “Golden Rule” argument, Nixon’sabsence during critical proceedings during the trial, and trial court allowingseven photographs of the victim entered into evidence. The Florida SupremeCourt ruled that the comments during the State’s closing argument did notamount to a Golden Rule argument, that it was not an error to proceed with thetrial in Nixon’s absence, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretionby admitting the photographs. The remaining claims were rejected, found to haveno merit, or properly ruled on by the trial court and the Florida Supreme Courtsubsequently affirmed Nixon’s conviction and sentence.


A Petition for Writ for Certiorari was filed to the UnitedStates Supreme Court on 06/20/91, which was subsequently denied on 10/07/91.


A 3.850 Motion was filed to the Circuit Court on 10/07/93, whichwas denied on 10/22/97 without an evidentiary hearing.


On 12/15/97, Nixon filed a 3.850 Appeal to the FloridaSupreme Court.  On 06/09/98, the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus wasalso filed to the Florida Supreme Court.  On 01/27/00, an opinion from theCourt was issued consolidating the two cases and remanding both cases back tothe trial court for an evidentiary hearing on Nixon’s ineffective counsel claim– specifically whether Nixon consented to defense strategy to concede.  Arehearing on this opinion was denied on 06/09/00, and a mandate was issued on07/31/00. The evidentiary hearing was held on 05/11/01.  An order wasissued 09/20/01; the trial court denied the 3.850 Motion by finding that Corindid provide Nixon with effective counsel.


An appeal of the trial court’s denial of the 3.850 Motionwas filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 11/08/01.  The main issue inthis appeal was whether Nixon agreed to his trial counsel’s, Corin, strategy toconcede guilt although he pled not guilty.  Corin testified that he didconsult Nixon about the concession, but he did not verbally agree or disagreewith the decision.  The Florida Supreme Court found that silence is notenough to prove that Nixon agreed to Corin’s decision, resulting in the conclusionthat Corin was ineffective counsel. They remanded the case for a new trial on07/10/03.


The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus that was filed on06/09/98 was dismissed as moot due to the order that remanded the case for anew trial on 07/10/03.


On 12/22/03, Nixon filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorarito the United States Supreme Court, which was granted on 03/01/04.  TheCourt will hear issues on the effectiveness standards of counsel, and held thatclaims of ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel’s concession ofguilt to the crime charged, even without the defendant’s consent, are to beanalyzed under the principles of Strickland v. Washington.  On 12/13/04,the United States Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Florida SupremeCourt and remanded the case for reconsideration.


On 04/20/06, the Florida Supreme Court readdressed theineffective assistance of counsel claim on the issue of concession of guiltwithout Nixon’s consent, and addressed other issues raised in Nixon’s 3.850Appeal and affirmed the trial court’s denial of Nixon’s 3.850 Motion.  TheCourt concluded that trial counsel, Corin, was not ineffective conceding guiltto first-degree murder.  The Court also found no error in the trialcourt’s summary denial of six other claims raised in Nixon’s 3.850 Motion. On 06/16/06, the rehearing was denied.  The mandate was issued on07/05/06.


On 04/20/06, the Florida Supreme Court addressed the issuesraised in Nixon’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and denied habeas relief. Nixon raised three of the following claims:  (1) ineffective counsel, (2)death sentence is unconstitutional based on Ring and Apprendi issues, and (3)mental incompetence to stand trial.  The Court concluded that (1) counselineffectiveness has not been demonstrated, (2) the Ring case is not applicablebecause Nixon’s case became final before Ring was decided, and (3) the recorddoes not demonstrate that Nixon is mentally retarded.  On 06/16/06, therehearing was denied.  The mandate was issued on 07/05/06.


On 06/19/06, Nixon filed a Motion for Postconviction Reliefpursuant to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.851 and 3.203 in the CircuitCourt.  On 07/19/06, the Circuit Court entered an order granting the Stateto appoint an expert to examine Nixon for mental retardation.  On04/26/07, the trial court denied this motion.


On 05/29/07, Nixon filed an appeal of the trial court’sdenial of his Motion for Postconviction Relief (3.851 and 3.203) in the FloridaSupreme Court.  On 01/22/09, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed bothdispositions of the trial court.  The Florida Supreme Court issued amandate in this case on 02/12/09.


Nixon filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in theUnited States District Court, Northern District on 01/17/10. This case iscurrently pending.


Institutional Adjustment:


DATE     DAYS         VIOLATION                                  LOCATION      

11/10/86     30            SPOKENTHREATS            FLORIDA STATE PRISON

12/06/86     10            MISUSE OF STATEPROP             FLORIDA STATE PRISON

05/20/91      0             DISORDERLYCONDUCT            FLORIDA STATE PRISON

07/05/93      0             DISOBEYINGORDER                   UNION C. I.        

05/08/94      0             DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS              UNION C. I.        

08/13/98    180           REF. SUB. ABUSETEST                UNION C. I.        

10/09/98      0             DEST. OF ST.PROP.                       UNION C. I.        

12/22/02     60            DISRESP.TOOFFICIALS              UNION C. I.        




Report Date:  10/17/01          NMP

Approved:      11/01/01          WS

Updated:        04/21/10          EMJ