The petition, Abdool, et al v. Florida, is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Fla. attorneys challenge changes to death penalty," is AP coverage, via the Tampa Bay Tribune.
A new Florida law that speeds up how quickly the state carries out the death penalty is being challenged in the state Supreme Court.
Attorneys Neal Dupree and Bill Jennings - who head the state agencies that represent death row inmates after they're convicted - are leading a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon against Attorney General Pam Bondi and the state of Florida. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include more than 100 current death row inmates.
Signed by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this month, the "Timely Justice Act of 2013" creates tighter timeframes for appeals, post-conviction motions and imposes reporting requirements on case progress. It also re-establishes a separate agency for north Florida to provide appellate-level legal representation to inmates sentenced to death, and requires them to "pursue all possible remedies in state court."
Scott said in his signing statement that the state's current death row inmates who have exhausted their judicial appeals have been awaiting execution for an average of 22 years.
The lawsuit claims the new law unconstitutionally usurps the court's powers and violates convicts' constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. The challenge also asks for an injunction to keep the law from going into effect on Monday.
The Miami Herald posts, "Lawyer group challenge speedy executions," by Michael Van Sickler.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the accelerated pace, calling it the result of an “abrupt whirlwind of political maneuvering." Scheduled to go into effect on Monday, the law would violate the Separation of Powers by requiring “constitutional officers of the judicial and executive branches” to take immediate actions because of the legislative action, according to the suit. It also claimed the law suspends the writ of habeas corpus, violates due process by interfering with judicial resolution of constitutional claims, and will result in cruel and unusual punishments “contrary to evolving standards of decency.”
“The Act creates a rushed process for issuance of a likely flood of death warrants that will inundate the courts and abruptly cut off this Court’s exercise of judicial review in capital cases,” the suit stated. “If not addressed prior to its operation in practice, the process will have the unconstitutional and irreversible result of individuals being executed under a legislatively-determined judicial procedure in which violations of their constitutional rights go unresolved. Further, Florida history shows that diminished process can have tragic and irreversible consequences.”
The 86-page emergency petition was signed by five lawyers: Neal Dupree, John W. Jennings, Martin McClain, Linda McDermott, and Terri Backhus.
"Supreme Court Asked To Block Florida’s Death Row Fast Track Law," is by The News Service of Florida, via North Escambia.
Attorneys representing Death Row inmates want the Florida Supreme Court to block the controversial “Timely Justice Act” that is intended to reduce final delays in carrying out the death penalty.In a challenge filed Wednesday, the attorneys contend that sections of the law signed June 14 by Gov. Rick Scott are unconstitutional.
They allege, in part, that the law would violate the separation of powers by imposing obligations on lawyers that conflict with judicially-determined rules. They also say it would alter the court’s authority to govern capital post-conviction litigation and would violate due process and equal protection.
“It is clear that, when the Legislature restricts this court’s authority to reach final ruling on constitutional matters by creating a time-certain limit on capital litigation and rejects procedural vehicles recognized by this court as necessary components to ensuring the constitutionality of capital convictions and death sentences, it violates this court’s authority to be the ultimate interpreter of the Florida Constitution,” said the lawsuit.
Scott’s office has repeatedly contended that the law, which takes effect July 1, doesn’t “fast-track” the death penalty process and will not increase the risk of executing innocent people as some critics have argued. Instead, Scott’s office says the bill makes “technical amendments to current law and provides clarity and transparency to legal proceedings.”
Earlier coverage from Florida begins with an execution stayed by the U.S. appeals court and more on the Timely Justice Act.