Supreme Court Deals Blow To Florida’s Death Sentencing System

Why do we kill peopleJuries, not judges, must decide whether ultimate penalty is justified.  I am opposed to the killing of humans, and that includes the government sanctioned death penalty.  Yesterday, Richard Wolf of USA Today reported that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that judges deciding on the death penalty rather than juries, is unconstitutional.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down Florida’s system of letting judges, not juries, decide whether convicted criminals deserve the death penalty.

The 8-1 ruling is significant because Florida has about 400 prisoners on death row, second only to California — and unlike California, it conducts executions regularly. However, most of the state’s prisoners are not likely to be affected because their appeals have run out or their convictions were based on indisputable aggravating circumstances.

In Florida, judges can impose the death penalty even if the jury has not ruled unanimously or agreed on any aggravating circumstance. If the jury has issued a recommendation, the judge doesn’t have to follow it. No other state gives judges such discretion.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the decision for the nearly unanimous court, with Justice Samuel Alito dissenting.

“We hold this sentencing scheme unconstitutional,” Sotomayor said. “The 6th Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death. A jury’s mere recommendation is not enough.”

Alito disagreed, contending that past Supreme Court rulings allow judges to establish the facts leading to a death sentence. Even so, he said, “under the Florida system, the jury plays a critically important role.”

The case was brought before SCOTUS by Timothy Hurst, a death row prisoner in Florida.   In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must determine whether the necessary facts exist to justify a death sentence.  In Hurst’s case, the jury voted 7 – 5, and it was not clear what the majority voted.

Posted on 01/19/2016, in Cases, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I thought all states had to have a unanimous jury decision on the death penalty. Evidently I was 98% correct. Ohhhhhhh, but then again it’s FL………….the gunshine state where it seems anything goes.

    On the bright side………………I’ll bet Fogen just sighed a breath of relief……what with that Karma and the “It’s only a matter of time” where he kills someone and it’s on video.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Racer,
      I too thought that if a jury could not decide on the death penalty, that the judge would sentence to life without parole. I remember that happening in the Jodi Arias trial in Arizona.

      Karma does have a date with Zimmerman. I really hope that it doesn’t mean he will take another person’s life, but we know that he is not above doing that.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This is so important and I agree with you. I do not believe in killing human beings. So I am stoutly against the death sentence. I think the worst punishment to for them to have to live out their lives with whatever crime they have committed. Thank you for sharing this with us. Hugs, Barbara

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Excellent news!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. That quote is one I used quite often in my defense against the death penalty. I don’t support the death penalty one bit. I’m happy about this decision. We’ve still got a ways to go, still.

    Like

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