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Justices Skeptical over Death Penalty Arguments

June 29th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Aramis Ayala announced in March, two months after being sworn in as a State Attorney in Orange and Osceola Counties,  that she would no longer seek death sentences. Governor Rick Scott, saying he was shocked, immediately began transferring cases out of the circuit.

In all 24 cases were transferred.

Ayala challenged the Governor’s authority in the Supreme Court of Florida.

Her lawyer barely got a sentence out before he was interrupted by pointed questions from Justice Fred Lewis.

“Was there not a statement, I’m not going to follow Florida law, essentially?” asked Lewis from the bench.

“When they decide how they are going to treat some cases versus other cases,  that is absolutely an exercise in discretion.” responded Ayala Attorney Roy Austin

Chief Justice Jorge Larbarga openly worried about setting up a system of unequal justice.

“You’re going to have one circuit with a death penalty,, another circuit without it, all over the place. How is…How is that proper”?

But Ayala’s attorney argued the case isn’t about not following the law.

“The State Attorney made a decision on sentencing. It was very clear that she is gong to prosecute homicide cases” said Austin.

The state Solicitor General Amit Agarwal says the Governor could have suspended Ayala, but did not.

“If petitioners policy is allowed to stand, we’re going to have a situation where you have law free zones in respect to some statutes in some parts of the state” Agarwal told Justices.

Afterwards the State Attorney says her case was had been made.


“I did what I believe what is proper under Florida law. No laws have been violated” Ayala told reporters in a brief statement.

If Ayala prevails here at the Supreme Court, state Lawmakers will almost be certainly asked to re-write the law.”

There is no timetable for a ruling, but Justices are expected to take days, not weeks in releasing their decision.

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