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Supreme Court throws out new death sentencing scheme, inmates in limbo

October 14th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

The Supreme Court of Florida today said that a unanimous jury was required for the state to impose death, throwing out a newly enacted law that allowed ten jurors to impose the ultimate penalty, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the court left unanswered what happens to the nearly 400 people already on death row.


12 Jurors found Timothy Hurst guilty of the 1998 stabbing of a co worker at a Pensacola Popeyes. But only seven of them voted for death, which a judge imposed. This January, the US Supreme Court used the Hurst case to throw out that sentencing scheme,  in Florida, saying a jury not the judge had the final say.

House will come to order”

Then lawmakers enacted a 10-2 requirement for a death sentence this spring.  Now the Florida Supreme Court has said the Hurst decision demands a unanimous jury.

Nancy Daniels is Hurst’s Public Defender.

“So, they threw out the new Florida statute that had allowed the death penalty by a ten to two margin. And said going forward, we’re going to have to have unanimous verdicts in Florida” says a happy Daniels.

Nancy Daniels says Hurst will get a new sentencing hearing

death row 1

Ah, it’s about time” Mark Schlakman told us. He’s been working for almost a decade to require a unanimous jury when death is on the table. “Why is unanimity important your mind?” we asked.

“It goes right to the core of our system of our jurisprudence” says the Human Rights Lawyer.

The court was asked to declare the entire death penalty unconstitutional. It refused. But it left unanswered what happens with the other 384 people who woke up on death row Friday morning.

During the legislative session, prosecutors had objected to requiring unanimous jury verdicts, saying no two people should be allowed to impose their will on the majority. The Supreme Court disagrees.

Lawmakers meet agin two weeks after next months election and could take action to confirm or overturn the court decision.

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