Is Florida’s death sentence policy unconstitutional?

Currently, Florida’s death sentence policy is different than all other states in the US. Although some states have modified versions, Florida is the only state that allows the jury to recommend either the death penalty or life in prison decided on by majority vote. The judge then takes the recommendation into consideration but does not have to agree.

Last week in Miami, a Federal judge declared that Florida’s death sentence was unconstitutional because jurors are not required to explain what specific part of evidence they based their decision on. This is just one example of a situation where having a lawyer familiar with the Federal criminal code and Federal criminal sentencing could be beneficial.

According to an article from Tampa Bay Online, the ruling applies only to a specific case of a murderer currently on Florida’s Death Row, but there is reason to believe that this will spark many more challenges in the future.

So this brings us to the “hot topic” question… will this ruling have any effect on the outcome of the Casey Anthony case? The Anthony defense sure hopes so. Since word of Wednesday’s ruling from the Miami judge, Anthony’s defense team has “filed a motion to have the Florida death penalty declared unconstitutional.”

Anthony’s defense team decided to challenge the current death penalty days after their motion for a ruling of competence was disregarded. Three different psychologists saw Anthony and according to their findings, she is competent and the trial will proceed on Friday, and now on Monday news breaks that they have filed the motion. Coincidence?

UPDATE 7/6/11: With the acquittal yesterday of all murder charges, it isn’t applicable to the Casey Anthony case any longer.

Ratings and Reviews

Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated

FL Bar Board Certified

Former Prosecutor