Thursday, March 3, 2016

Florida Senate sends revamped death penalty statute to governor

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 3:16 PM

  • Photo via Florida Department of Corrections
The Florida Senate voted 35-5 Thursday on a bill that would fix parts of Florida's death penalty sentencing system that the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional in January. 

The Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida found Florida's death penalty statute requires a trial judge to determine what aggravating or mitigating factors exist in a case to warrant a defendant's execution, which conflicts with the Sixth Amendment that protects a defendant's right to a trial by jury. 

The Tampa Bay Times reports the bill passed by the state Senate, HB 7101, requires a jury to determine the aggravating factors in a case, with a judge affirming the jury's decision by signing an order. The bill also requires that 10 of the 12 jurors must agree when they recommend the death penalty. Previously, Florida only required that a majority of jurors agree when they recommended someone must be executed, making it one of the only states that doesn't require the jury to vote unanimously. 

The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott's office, where if signed, becomes the law. Earlier this week, the Florida Supreme Court halted the execution of Mark Asay, the second time they've done so since ruling was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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