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The Impact Of Supreme Court Decision On Florida’s Death Sentence

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Florida’s death penalty system is unconstitutional. The court ruled that Florida gave too much authority to judges.

The 8-1 decision said Florida’s system is flawed because juries can only recommend the death penalty while judges make the final decision.

Florida, Alabama and Delaware are the three states where a unanimous jury decision is not required. Brianne Gorod, appellate counsel with the Constitutional Accountability Center, said the Florida ruling puts other states on notice.

“I think this decision will put any other states that might be tempted to leaving capital sentences to judges, that that’s not okay under our constitution,” said Gorod.

The Supreme Court ruling could trigger appeals from some of the 390 Florida inmates on death row. Florida State University legal scholar Mark Schlackman said it’s going to take a while to unravel the impact for people currently on Death Row, and whether it applies to just one case.

“There will be those who argue that it applies to Florida’s entire death row. And some will say cases that are similarly situated it would make sense it would apply to them,” said Schlackman. “So these issues have to be clarified.”

Statehouse leaders reacted to the ruling saying lawmakers will move quickly to overhaul the state’s death penalty system.


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