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February 7, 2017

Florida legislature finally moving toward really fixing its capital procedures after Hurst

As reported in this AP article, "with death penalty cases grinding to a halt across the state, the Florida Legislature is finally taking its first — and probably only steps — to fix the law so prosecutors can resume cases once again." Here is more:

Legislators are moving ahead with a measure that would require a unanimous jury verdict in cases where the death penalty is being sought. Just a year ago legislators rejected the idea, but the state Supreme Court last October struck down a 2016 law that said the death penalty could be imposed after a 10-2 jury vote.

A Senate panel on Monday approved a bill requiring a unanimous jury verdict and a similar measure is being considered in the state House. The legislation could be among the first bills passed and sent to Gov. Rick Scott when the session officially kicks off in March.

"It is important that we have an orderly system of justice in place for both families of victims and individuals charged with serious crimes," said Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Ocoee Democrat who sponsored the bill. "This legislation removes ambiguity from our death penalty statute, which will help reduce delays in due process for all parties involved in death penalty cases."

Bracy's bill, however, doesn't address other questions raised by recent court decisions, including whether or not the state's nearly 400 current death row inmates deserve a new sentencing hearing if a jury did not unanimously recommend the death penalty. Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Senate President Joe Negron, said he wants to keep the legislation narrow to get it passed quickly....

Bracy wanted to amend his bill so all current death row inmates would be treated the same but said he didn't have the votes to get the proposal adopted. Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, complained that legislators should be taking a comprehensive look at the death penalty to avoid having to deal with the issue year after year. But he said that some legislators are concerned they would look "weak" on the death penalty.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee reported that there are more than 300 death penalty cases pending across the state, including 66 that are now ready for trial. Prosecutors have put some of these trials on hold while they wait for the Legislature to act.

February 7, 2017 at 09:45 AM | Permalink


"fixing"---hmmm, that's an interesting way to put it---SCOTUS specifically approved of Florida's procedures years ago, pulled the rug out from underneath Florida, and we're ragging on the legislature for "finally" fixing?

Posted by: federalist | Feb 8, 2017 10:50:50 AM

I am not ragging on anyone, federalist, by suggesting that after SCOTUS in Hurst declared Florida's DP procedures unconstitutional, these procedures needed to be "fixed." And the only clear "foolproof" fix was to require unanimous jury recommendations. You can dislike and resist Hurst all you want, but to have a functional capital system, Florida needed to "fix" its Hurst problem.

Posted by: Doug B. | Feb 8, 2017 12:00:45 PM

"finally moving"--QED

Posted by: federalist | Feb 8, 2017 1:44:54 PM

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