News

Via DPIC:

On May 22, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Florida‘s petition for a writ of certiorari in Florida v. Hurst, refusing to disturb a decision of the Florida Supreme Court that had declared it unconstitutional for judges to impose death sentences after one or more jurors in the case had voted for life. The ruling effectively ends Florida prosecutors’ efforts to reverse the state court ruling—which could overturn approximately 200 death sentences in the state—requiring that capital sentencing juries unanimously recommend death before the trial judge may impose a death sentence. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had asked the high court to consider the Florida decision, arguing that the state court’s “expansive reading” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida was erroneous. In January 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, saying, “The Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.” The Florida legislature rewrote the law to require that juries unanimously find at least one aggravating factor, making a case eligible for a death sentence, and raising the threshold for a jury recommendation of a death sentence from a simple 7-5 majority to at least 10 of the 12 jurors. The Florida Supreme Court held in October 2016 that the new law violated both the state and federal constitutions because it did not require jury unanimity before the court could impose a death sentence. Most of the 386 prisoners currently on Florida’s death row were sentenced to death in violation of Hurst. However, the state court has ruled that it will not apply its decision to cases that had completed the direct appeal process before June 2002, when the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the Sixth Amendment gives capital defendants the right to have a jury find all facts that are necessary to impose the death penalty in their case. The Florida Supreme Court has already ordered more than a dozen new sentencing hearings in cases involving non-unanimous jury recommendations for death, and local prosecutors are faced with the prospect of a flood of expensive retrials in cases in which one or more jurors have already rejected the death penalty. Dave Davis, who represented Hurst, said “'[p]rosecutors are going to have to decide is it worth the effort to try to get death again. They’re going to have to examine their evidence … and decide what the likelihood is that they’re going to get 12 jurors to decide death.”

(M. Van Sickler, “SCOTUS won’t hear Bondi appeal on death penalty,” Tampa Bay Times, May 22, 2017.) See U.S. Supreme Court.

May 26, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Florida Decision Barring Death Sentences Based on Non-Unanimous Jury Votes

Via DPIC: On May 22, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Florida‘s petition for a writ of certiorari in Florida v. Hurst, refusing to disturb a decision of […]
May 26, 2017

2017 MADP Annual Meeting – The Death Penalty: A Public Program of Victimization

The Death Penalty: A Public Program of Victimization Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is sponsoring “The Death Penalty: A Public Program of Victimization”, on […]
May 24, 2017

Death penalty overturned for third time for man convicted of murdering De Soto couple in 1996

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – A federal judge overturned the death sentence of Carman Deck in the 4/13/17 ruling, and ordered him to serve a life sentence […]
May 22, 2017

Death ≠ Justice | MADPMO Teams Up with Lush Cosmetics

7 out of Missouri’s 24 inmates currently sentenced to death, or roughly a third, are from the St. Louis area. This made the Death ≠ Justice event at the […]