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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Why not require a unanimous verdict?

Florida is fixing its death penalty law.

Juries will have the final say, not judges.

But the way it is fixing the law is lacking.

From the Associated Press:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a major overhaul of Florida's death penalty on Monday in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring the previous system unconstitutional.
The new law requires at least 10 out of 12 jurors recommend execution for it to be carried out. Florida previously required that a majority of jurors recommend the death sentence. The law was found unconstitutional in January because jurors served an advisory role while judges had the final say in death penalty cases.
"It is my solemn duty to uphold the laws of Florida and my foremost concern is always for the victims and their loved ones. I hope this legislation will allow families of these horrific crimes to get the closure they deserve," Scott said in a statement released by his office.
The law took effect as soon as Scott signed the bill. While judges can lower a death sentence recommendation to life in some circumstances, they will not be able to impose a death penalty without at least a 10-2 jury decision.
Why not a unanimous decision? I mean you are ending a person's life.

Also, Florida must end the ability of a prosecutor to dodge a grand jury to try a person for second-degree murder. Make all felony charges go through the grand jury.Had that been the case, George Zimmerman would have been spared the expense of a needless murder trial.


  1. Concur with you on unanimous decision.

  2. I'd bet that they already know the statistics on how it would go and that requiring unanimity would be the same as abolishing the death penalty.

  3. And while we're talking about abolishing stuff: abolish medical licensing!

  4. Isn't the whole point to give judges an out for NOT imposing the death penalty in capital cases? 10/12 is a high bar, I would think, probably high enough to effectively "kill" the death penalty except for the most heinous crimes. Out of a dozen people chosen quasi-randomly there are bound to be 3 who would prefer the judge impose life imprisonment instead of execution. The point is, these days judges are squeamish about making the hard decisions required by their job. They are grateful for all the legal wiggle room they can get.

    On the other hand, although it appears not to be the procedure in Florida, if the decision regarding sentencing is left to the jury, not the judge, a death sentence should certainly be unanimous, the same as required by the jury to find the defendant guilty as charged. It would make no sense if the standard for sentencing were less stringent than the standard for determining guilt.

    The SCOTUS is desperately trying to end the death penalty by reinterpreting the plain meaning of the words in the Constitution. They just haven't found the right penumbra or emanation in the Constitution to cite for that yet. They know a Constitutional amendment to outlaw the death penalty would have little chance of success. But now that they have twice found a way to ignore the plain meaning of the words in the text of the Constitution and in the Obamacare law, I'm sure they are sufficiently emboldened to make up some crazy legal mumbo-jumbo to outlaw the death penalty. After all, once they decide, what recourse do the other branches of government have? In the reign of Obama, government lawlessness is the rule, not the exception.

  5. There would always be one snowflake to refuse a death penalty. Let the horrific murderer live on at tax payer expense in comfort he never had before the murder.I don't know about deterrence, but the death penalty stops recidivism.