News from Florida Capital Resource Center

Representative Drake Seeks To Bring Back The Firing Squad!

Posted October 12, 2011

Less than one month after Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda announced she has filed legislation to repeal Florida’s death penalty, Representative Brad Drake has filed some legislation of his own: to bring the firing squad back to Florida.  Rep. Drake seeks to eliminate lethal injection as one of Florida’s methods of execution and replace it with a firing squad.

As the law stands now, lethal injection is the default method of execution in Florida.  Prisoners, however, have the option of electing to be executed by electrocution instead.  HB 325, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, would make electrocution the default method of execution, allowing prisoners to elect a firing squad alternative.

Click here to read the text of Rep. Drake’s HB 325.

Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda Introduces Legislation to Repeal Florida's Death Penalty!

Posted September 27, 2011

Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda announced today that she will be introducing legislation next session that would repeal the death penalty in Florida.  Filed as HB 4051, Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda cites both the unjust application and the astronomical cost of maintaining the death penalty as her motivation for filing the bill, a cost that has been estimated at $51 million annually.

In her press release, Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda said, "I'm not in the business of dispensing vengeance.  As a state representative, I am in the business of making decisions to help keep Floridians safe from crime while spending taxpayer money prudently.  HB 4051 will achieve both goals."

Click here to read the full press release.

Federal Judge Finds Florida Death Penalty Unconstitutional Under Ring v. Arizona!

Posted June 26, 2011

Federal Judge Jose Martinez has determined that Paul Hawthorne Evans deserves a new sentencing hearing before an untainted jury because Florida's capital sentencing statute violates the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Ring v. Arizona

The order came down on Monday, June 20, 2011, and is sure to be appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Judge Martinez found that Florida's sentencing statute, Fla. Stat. s. 921.141, violates the holding of Ring v. Arizona for several reasons, but primarily because it provides for the judge - not the jury - to make findings of fact as to the existence of aggravating circumstances. 

In Florida, only a simple majority of jurors is required to make a recommendation of death.  However, the jury is not required to specify which aggravating circumstances they found to exist.  This means that it is possible that not even one single aggravator was found to exist by a majority of jurors beyond a reasonable doubt; instead, it is possible that several jurors found one aggravating circumstance while the others found a different aggravating circumstance, thus comprising a “false” majority.  Furthermore, because the jury's recommendation is not binding on the judge, and the judge is required to make the actual findings, it is possible that the judge is finding entirely different aggravating circumstances than the jury.  Such a procedure, according to Martinez, cannot be reconciled with Ring, which requires that any finding of fact that increases the maximum sentence from life to death be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Martinez further mentioned that a judge's ability to reject a jury's recommendation for a life sentence and impose a sentence of death instead is likely also unconstitutional, though notes that issue is not before the court and will have to wait for another day.

 Click here to read Judge Martinez' Order from Evans v. McNeil (relevant portion begins on page 78)

Florida Capital Expands With New Regional Directors!

Posted June 6, 2011

Over the past several weeks, our organization has been joined by several new Regional Directors.  The recent addition of these experienced and talented lawyers greatly enhances our presence and ability to work statewide: Stephen H. Malone (Cicuit 15), Christopher Quarles (Circuit 7), Austin Maslanik (Circuit 10), Mike Stone (Circuit 14), Terri Backhus (Circuit 13), Michael Pirolo (Circuit 18), and Tania Alavi (Circuit 8).

Please join us in welcoming these new members to Florida Capital Resource Center!

Florida International University Law Students Assist With Supreme Court Amicus!

Posted May 28, 2011

FIU Law          Florida Capital Resource Center

Florida Capital Resource Center would like to extend a special thank you to the law students of Florida International University College of Law.

As the filing deadline loomed near for Florida Capital's latest amicus curiae brief, we needed assistance with some last-minute research to strengthen our arguments and ensure the accuracy of our brief.  Our most recent interns were either on vacation or, having recently graduated, already studying for the upcoming Florida Bar Exam.  Further, given the timing of our deadline, most law schools were closed for the break between Spring and Summer semesters.

Despite the odds, we reached out to the students at Florida International University College of Law in hopes of finding one or two law students who would be willing to spare a few hours of their short and much-needed vacation to help us with some last-minute legal research.  Imagine our amazement when no less than THIRTEEN students responded to our call!!

We want to send a special thank you to the fine students of Florida International University College of Law for their diligent research efforts which helped strengthen our amicus brief and file it on time - your efforts were and are so greatly appreciated, and we commend you on a fine job!

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