News from Florida Capital Resource Center

Florida Capital Resource Center Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Supreme Court Cert Petition

Posted May 26, 2011

Supreme Court of the United States                                   Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States

Yesterday, Florida Capital Resource Center filed an amicus curiae brief in support of a petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court of the United States.

The case, Puiatti v. Buss, Case No. 10-1302, concerns the constitutional implications of joint capital sentencing proceedings as they relate to the individualized sentencing determination required by the Eighth Amendment.  In Puiatti v. McNeil, 626 F.3d 1283 (11th. Cir. 2010), the Eleventh Circuit held that there were no Eighth Amendment implications of joint capital sentencing whatsoever and that joinder was "quite compatible" with individualized sentencing.  The Fourth and Fifth Circuits disagree, believing that the tension between joinder and individualized sentencing is "inherent" and present in every case involving multiple defendants.  See United States v. Bernard, 299 F.3d 467 (5th Cir. 2002); United States v. Tipton, 90 F.3d 861 (4th Cir. 1996).  The Supreme Court of the United States has yet to directly speak on the matter.

It is our view that the Eleventh Circuit's holding essentially creates an irrebuttable presumption that if joinder is appropriate during the guilt phase, it is appropriate during the penalty phase.  Such a rule is particularly harsh in Florida, and as local amicus, Florida Capital Resource Center provides some context for the Court, arguing that in a jurisdiction where the threshold for receiving a death sentence is already far below that of anywhere else in the United States, the Eleventh Circuit's rule cannot be constitutionally sustained.

Click here to visit our Amicus Curiae Bank to read the brief.

Ron McAndrew Joins the Board of Directors!

Posted May 19, 2011

Ron McAndrew  Ron McAndrew

We are pleased to announce that Prison and Jail Consultant Ron McAndrew has joined our Board of Directors!

Formerally the Warden of Florida State Prison, Ron McAndrew is now a Prison and Jail Consultant who frequently speaks out against the death penalty. 

Ron grew up in rural Gaston County, NC.  After serving four years in the USAF, he was discharged in France in 1960.  Ron then lived and worked for a private firm in France and Southeast Asia, returning to the United States in 1978.  Arriving in Florida that year, Ron began his career in corrections as a bottom-rung correctional officer, climbing through all the uniform and investigative ranks to the position of warden.  It was at Florida State Prison in 1996 that Ron first experienced the premeditated, ceremonial killing of another human being.  After executing John Earl Bush, John Mills, Jr., and Pedro Medina, the gruesomeness of these sanctioned killings prompted the warden to search his soul.

One year later, Ron was relieved of the responsibility and pressure of carrying out Florida's death penalty when he was transferred to the warden's position at the Central Florida Reception Center.  It was during this period that Ron came to the decision that he believed the death penalty was wrong and that he wanted to do something about it.  Ron has been an active abolitionist ever since. 

Ron now serves as a prison and jail consultant.  He has consulted with and/or testified for attorneys, law schools, and state agencies since 2005 as an expert witness (federal and state courts) in the areas of staff negligence, inmate assault (failure to protect), staff use-of-force, wrongful terminations of correctional staff members, Correctios Emergency Response Teams (CERT), prisoner medical care and standards, in-custody inmate deaths, inmate suicide, sexual assault by staff/other prisoners, sexual harassment of correctional staff members, correctional employee murder, conditions of confinement, inmate supervision, "deliberate indifference," prisoner classification and housing, strip/body cavity searches, accomodations for disabled prisoners, the training of correctional staff, and jail/prison policies and procedures.

Click here to read more about Ron McAndrew.

Sandy D'Alemberte & Mark Olive Join Florida Capital Resource Center Advisory Board

Posted April 6, 2011

Florida Capital Resource Center is proud to announce that Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte and Mark Olive are the newest members of our Advisory Board!

Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte  Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, Esq.

Sandy D'Alemberte, President Emeritus of The Florida State University, served as President from January 1994 to January 2003.  From 1984 to 1989, D'Alemberte served as dean of the FSU College of Law.  Earlier he represented Dade County in the Florida House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972 where he chaired several legislative committees including the Judiciary Committee that drafted and passed a major judicial reform constitutional amendment in 1972.  During his legislative service he was recognized as the Outstanding First Term Member (1967) and, in his last term, named Most Outstanding Member of the House (1972).

During his years of practice, D'Alemberte concentrated on media and public law work and his cases included the proceedings that led to the first rule allowing camera access to courtrooms, representation of Post-Newsweek Stations during the historic FCC license challenges during the Nixon years, service as Chief Counsel in impeachment proceedings against three justices of the Florida Supreme Court, the first litigation involving the Copyright Act of 1976, a number of libel trials and appeals, the representation of the Florida House of Representatives in several constitutional cases, Chief Counsel for a United States Senate Banking Sub-committee investigating HUD and pro bono counsel in four death penalty cases.

He has been active in the organized bar, serving as President of the American Bar Association (1991-92), President of the American Judicature Society (1982-84) and Chair of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (1982-83).  He chaired several ABA committees including chair of the first dispute resolution committee and the first election reform committee.

Mark Olive  Mark Olive (second from left, during remand of Atkins v. Virginia)

Mark Olive's national practice of law focuses on death penalty litigation, educating lawyers, judges, and law students about capital punishment and habeas corpus practice, and consulting with and helping capital defense teams provide quality representation for the neediest of clients.  Some of Mark's cases include: Fleming v. Zant, 386 S.E.2d 339 (Ga. 1989), where the Georgia Supreme Court found that execution of persons who suffer from mental retardation violated the Georgia Constitution;  Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), a case where the United States Supreme Court found that such executions violated the Eighth Amendment;  Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993), a Texas case where a majority of the Supreme Court agreed that the execution of an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment;  Williams v. Dixon, 961 F.2d 448 (4th Cir. 1992), where the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that North Carolina's capital jury instruction violated the Eighth Amendment;  and Maas v. Olive, 992 So.3d 196 (Fla. 2008), Olive v. Maas, 811 So.2d 644 (Fla. 2002), where the Florida Supreme Court invalidated fee caps in capital cases.

Mark was the Director of the first Capital Resource Center in the country, opened in Florida in 1985, which provided assistance to pro bono attorneys (and provided direct representation) in capital cases.  He was later the Director of both the Georgia and Virginia Resource Centers.  He regularly teaches a Death Penalty and the Supreme Court seminar at the University of North Carolina College of Law in Chapel Hill.  Mark was awarded the National Legal Aid and Defender Association's Life in the Balance Achievement Award in 2003.

Florida Capital is extremely proud to have both Sandy and Mark join our Advisory Board!  

Introducing Our New Executive Director: Jennifer L. Greenberg

Posted March 10, 2011

Jenny Greenberg  Jennifer L. Greenberg, Esq.

Florida Capital is proud to announce that Jennifer "Jenny" Greenberg has joined us as our new Executive Director!

Jenny Greenberg is perhaps best known as the founder of the Innocence Project of Florida, serving as Director of the organization for five years as it successfully freed the wrongfully convicted through the use of conclusive DNA evidence and forced changes in the law to protect future prisoners' rights to obtain genetic testing.  As a defense attorney, Jenny Greenberg advocated for many years in other significant non-profit service, including 10 years investigating and litigating post-conviction death penalty cases, usually under pending execution ("warrant") conditions.  In her legal practice, Ms. Greenberg has also achieved the freedom of a score of battered women who killed their abusers in self-defense, and defended the rights of both forensic and civil mental patients detained at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, among other critical defense activities.

Throughout her 25 years of service to indigent prisoners, Ms. Greenberg has trained lawyers and others in effective death penalty investigation and presentation, focusing upon the intersection between homicide and mental health disorders (including those acquired due to severe physical and emotional abuse).  Jenny Greenberg has been quoted in relevant death penalty books, has appeared on CNN and many other news outlets, and has been featured in newspapers and publications from the New York Times and Time Magazine to local papers from coast to coast and internationally.

Jenny holds a B.A. and an M.A. in History, as well as a law degree from Florida State University.

We are thrilled that Jenny has agreed to join Florida Capital Resource Center as its first official Executive Director!

Florida Capital Resource Center Presents the 2011 Valentine's Day Fundraising Auction!

Posted January 28, 2011

Please join us for a night of fun as we kick off our 2011 Capital Fundraising Campaign with our First Annual Valentine's Day Fundraiser Auction!!  Tickets are just $30 each, and come with drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and registration for our live auction!  We are putting some great items up on the block, so come network with the other members of Florida Capital Resource Center and show your support as we establish our presence in the legal community!

The auction is taking place at Thursday, February 10th, 2011 at Redbar Gallery in Miami, FL.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here for more information