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Florida death penalty process declared unconstitutional

By James Call

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-974974.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will appeal a ruling that the state's process for sentencing people to death is unconstitutional. James Call reports, Bondi's office says the judge cited an Arizona ruling that is not relevant to Florida.

Federal judge Jose Martinez ruled Florida's sentencing procedure violates a U.S. Supreme Court decision that a majority of jurors agree on each aggravating factor to justify a death sentence. In Florida, a jury could agree a combination of factors exists without a majority agreeing on any single one. Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis said Martinez cited a case that is not relevant because in Florida it is the judge not the jury who sentences a defendant to death.

"We believe those cases do not apply and the Florida Supreme Court the 11th circuit and other courts have agreed with our position."

Davis said the ruling has no immediate impact because the appeals process is not complete.