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Florida Death Penalty Struck Down Once Again


Florida does not currently have a death penalty.

This comes after the Florida Supreme Court on Friday struck down the sentencing procedures passed by the state legislature this year. Juries will now have to be unanimous in handing down the death penalty, previously 10 of 12 jurors were required.

Until the state legislature can re-write the sentencing procedure, the state effectively has no death penalty. 

Florida had to re-write its sentencing guidelines after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that judges in the state had too much input in sentencing someone to death, when the jury alone has that constitutional responsibility. The court remained silent about another issue that had death penalty opponents challenging the state—questions about unanimity.

Until the Hurst decision, a simple majority—7 of 12 jurors—was required to hand down the death penalty after being found guilty. When re-writing the rules after Hurst, the state House and Senate went back and forth about the question of unanimity and settled on a compromise requiring 10 jurors to agree to the death sentence.

Potential death penalty cases have been moving slowly if not put on hold until the state Supreme Court ruled.

In a separate decision released Friday, the Florida Supreme Court granted Timothy Hurst, the death row inmate from Pensacola, a new sentencing hearing. 

What happens to the other almost 390 people on death row remains unclear.