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Thread: Florida Supreme Court: Jury must unanimously agree on death penalty

  1. #1

    Florida Supreme Court: Jury must unanimously agree on death penalty

    The Florida Supreme Court ruled Friday that jury recommendations to impose the death penalty must be unanimous, finding unconstitutional a law passed by the Florida Legislature earlier this year allowing the death penalty if the jury recommendation was at least 10-2.

    Friday's 5-2 ruling came in the case of Timothy Lee Hurst, whose appeal spawned a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January that found Florida's death-penalty sentencing process was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.

    The Florida court on Friday ordered that Hurst be given a new sentencing hearing and also left the state's death-penalty sentencing structure in doubt, for the second time in a year.

    The immediate impact of Friday's decision on Florida's nearly 400 death row inmates was unclear, but the 89-page ruling left undisputed that unanimous jury recommendations are required for defendants to be ordered to death, in contrast with a hurriedly crafted law passed in March.

    The issues in the Hurst case deal with the sentencing process after juries unanimously find defendants guilty of capital offenses

    Under Florida's old law, jurors by a simple majority could recommend the death penalty. Judges would then make findings of fact that "sufficient" aggravating factors, not outweighed by mitigating circumstances, existed for the death sentence to be imposed.

    That system was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in an 8-1 ruling in January in a case known as Hurst v. Florida.

    After the Hurst ruling, the Florida Supreme Court indefinitely halted two scheduled executions, and the Legislature quickly passed a new law to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

    Under the new law, juries have to unanimously find that at least one aggravating circumstance exists in order for defendants to be eligible for the death penalty. The law also requires juries to weigh whether sufficient mitigating factors exist to outweigh the aggravating circumstances, but the law is silent about whether those decisions must be unanimous. The law also required at least 10 jurors to recommend the death penalty, a departure from the old law, which required a simple majority.

    The issue of a unanimous recommendations -- not directly addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision -- was a flashpoint for lawmakers, prosecutors and defense lawyers during legislative debate on the new law. While the state Senate initially wanted to adopt a requirement of unanimous jury recommendations, lawmakers later struck a deal, pushed by state attorneys, to require at least 10 jurors to recommend death.

    But in Friday's highly anticipated decision, the Florida Supreme Court majority found that the state's attempt to repair the death-penalty sentencing structure remained flawed.

    Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince agreed fully in the majority opinion. Justice James E.C. Perry concurred with the issue of requiring unanimous jury recommendations but dissented on another issue. Justices Charles Canady wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justice Ricky Polston.

    The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandated that all findings necessary for imposition of a death sentence are “elements” that must be decided by a jury, and Florida “has a longstanding history of requiring unanimous jury verdicts as the elements of a crime,” the majority wrote.

    ...
    http://www.news4jax.com/news/florida...-penalty-rules
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.



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    Not. Good. Enough.
    Theye have refused their Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    Theye have erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    Theye kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies

    Theye have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For cutting off our Trade with parts of the world:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

    Theye plundered and destroyed the lives of our people.

    Theye are at this time transporting Armies of Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of a civilized nation.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by phill4paul View Post
    Not. Good. Enough.
    Agree.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.



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