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Circuit Judge Tosses New Death Sentencing Law

Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons

A Miami-area judge has ruled Florida’s new capital sentencing scheme is unconstitutional.  The judge found fault with the law’s lack of a unanimity requirement for death sentence recommendations.

South Florida judge Milton Hirsch is calling the state’s new death sentencing scheme unconstitutional.  He says requiring just 10 of 12 jurors agree to recommend the sentence flies in the face of criminal procedure—noting “every verdict in every criminal case in Florida requires the concurrence, not of some, not of most, but of all jurors—every single one of them.” 

It’s a concern voiced by state Supreme Court justice Barbara Pariente during oral arguments last week for a different case.

“I mean the Legislature, they couldn’t even agree that we need to be unanimous like the rest of the country,” she said.

Florida and only two other states—Delaware and Alabama—allow the death penalty without unanimity.  But earlier this year, Delaware halted executions while its courts decide if the scheme is constitutional.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.