nearvideo Florida Supreme court, the death penalty does not require a unanimous jury
Florida state law says that the sentence a defendant to death, a jury must make a unanimous recommendation to a judge. The Supreme court of Florida ruled in January that the unanimity is required. Well, dozens of Florida death row promised the re-sentencing does not know what comes next.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In the Wake of the landmark Florida Supreme Court decision, dozens of death row inmates in the state, seeks resentencing now do not know what your future holds for you.
For some, it could mean a return to the death row.
For decades, defendant could be sentenced to death in Florida, even if a jury was divided. In theory, a simple majority would have sufficed.
Robert Dunham, with the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), considers this a dangerous standard.
“It’s an extremely increased risk if you allow non-unanimous jury said recommendations for the death that you end up sending innocent people to death row and execute”, Dunham said, adding that Florida has a particularly chequered history with 29 death row exonerations — more than any other state.
Electric chair used on Florida ‘ s death row. (Courtesy, Florida Department of corrections)
But the 2016 Hurst v. Florida case, has change the law and move the state in the direction of unanimity.
“The Florida Supreme court decided that, in fact, the non-unanimous aspect was unconstitutional,” says Professor Wayne Logan from Florida State University College of Law. “And so, the Florida legislature said, ‘OK, now we are to require unanimous jury investigation into the death.'”
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee, Fla. (Robert Sherman, Fox News)
As a result, unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty sets the law of the country in 2017.
But the decision also had a retroactive effect. The DPIC estimates that 157 death sentences as unconstitutional, and every one of these prisoners later came into question for resentencing.
Bjorn Brunvand, a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater, Fla., remember, the day he was able to share this news with one of his customers.
“I remember, to be able to say to him, ‘I can help you, a new sentencing phase. A new way to live,” said Brunvand.
But just last month, the Supreme court of Florida has to explain to stunned death-row supporters and Vice versa in the case of State v. Poole, to that of the Hurst-decision “have it wrong.”
“It is no small thing for a court to conclude that a previous court has made a mistake clearly,” read the court brief. “In this case we can not use the conclusion to escape that, to the extent that it went beyond what is a correct interpretation of the Hurst v. Florida, required, our court in Hurst v. state has got it wrong.”
Logan explains that the composition of the Supreme court of Florida is much more conservative today, and probably played in the change in the interpretation.
“Here, it was very clear that a new majority of the court saw the Problem quite differently than an earlier court,” Logan said.
In the end, the highest court of the state of Florida, by a vote of 4-1, ruled that there is no constitutional requirement for a jury to be unanimous in order to sentence someone to death.
“Otherwise, there are still doubts, don’t we, that our state requires a unanimous jury recommendation or jury-recommendation – may be imposed in the Constitution the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, article I, section 17.5 for a death sentence,” the court said.
The verdict has put the fate of the people sentenced to death for the Navigation in the resentencing process in the realm of uncertainty. There is a growing fear among experts that some of the people condemned to death have their death penalties again.
An execution chamber in Florida. (Florida Department of Corrections)
“The question here is, well, ‘What is listening to the people that have already been said, you are entitled to a resentencing?'” Dunham said. “You can take that away from them? Afterwards, you can pull the carpet and put to the death penalty?”
Brunvand told Fox News that there is a motion already filed for re-introduction of the death penalty for his clients. He thinks that this is an injustice.
“I can’t imagine that we had been sentenced to death, received word from the Supreme court that the scheme is unconstitutional, and you are going to have a new trial lawyers start preparing for the Test-and then, all of a sudden, the prospect of that… Oh, we could just wing send back to the death. I can’t imagine,” said Brunvand.
The Florida Supreme Court decided in the case of State v. Poole, that the defendant, Mark Anthony Poole, received the death penalty.
In addition, Logan Fox News said that with this judgment, the proverbial door is now open for state law is changed.
“There is an invitation, from the judiciary to the legislature to say that, if you want to, as a matter of policy, if you don’t want to-decide to be unanimous in death, that is fine,” said Logan.
View from outside the execution chamber in Florida. (Florida Department of Corrections)
Pro death penalty Information Center, all but one of the 29 States that used the death penalty today, the Norm of unanimity. Alabama is the lone exception.
The Florida Supreme Court, the decision was immediately met with pushback from this, including the judge, Jorge Labarga, who is the court of the desert wrote a dissenting opinion.
“In the strongest possible terms, I dissent,” wrote Labarga. “The court has now taken a huge step backwards and removed a significant protection for the just application of the death penalty in Florida.”
Shalini Goel Agarwal, a managing attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, also expressed great concern for the decision in a statement:
“In the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongful convictions and racial disparities in death sentences, which is a unanimous jury is fundamental to the fairness ensure, when demanding the ultimate penalty,” Agarwal said. “There is no do-over after execution. That is why unanimity must be the rule.”
In the letter, the court made it clear that the decision not to have an opinion about politics, simply about the constitutionality. Justice Alan Lawson claims that, if the Florida State legislature want to change the law, you will be certainly taken into account the fact that Florida would be a departure from the national norm.
Florida’s “Old State Capitol” in Tallahassee, Fla. (Robert Sherman, Fox News)
To eliminate “if the Florida legislature in section 921.141 change of view, the requirement of a unanimous jury recommendation before a death sentence may be imposed, is the fact that this bill would make a change, in Florida an ‘outlier’ will certainly be taken into account in the subsequent political debate,” writes Lawson.
Since the 2017 state law continues in force, future death penalty sentences require a unanimous jury recommendation. Florida, Sr., President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters last month that you don’t have an appetite for changing the law at this time.
“I don’t think we change all the steps in the Florida Senate or the address,” said Galvano.