FlaglerLive posts, "Florida Supreme Court’s New Term: Death Penalty, Utility Rates, Red-Light Cameras," by Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.
After its annual summer break, the Florida Supreme Court will get back into the routine this week.
Justices are expected to resume their weekly ritual of releasing opinions at 11 a.m. Thursday. And in September, they are scheduled to again start setting aside one week each month to hear oral arguments.
It didn’t take long for attorneys who represent Death Row inmates to challenge the constitutionality of a new law dubbed the “Timely Justice Act.”
The law, approved by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott this year, is aimed at reducing delays in carrying out the death penalty. But less than two weeks after the measure was signed into law, attorneys went to the Supreme Court with a challenge to its constitutionality.
They have argued, 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.
But Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office contends the Supreme Court should dismiss the case, saying justices don’t have “jurisdiction” to rule on it and that the challenge does not identify an impact of the law on any pending case. Justices have not scheduled arguments.
The case is: Dane P. Abdool, et al, v. Pam Bondi, etc., et al.
Also, today's Orlando Sentinel publishes the OpEd, "State's death penalty overhaul: Require juries to be unanimous," written by Raoul Cantero & Mark Schlakman. Cantero is a former Florida Supreme Court justice; Schlakman is with Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.
Florida's Legislature this year passed the Timely Justice Act, which, among other things, requires that a list be developed to reflect all active death-penalty cases affirmed on automatic direct appeal to Florida's Supreme Court wherein "post-conviction relief" was denied in state and federal court.
Post-conviction proceedings involve collateral matters not raised on direct appeal, like ineffective assistance of counsel, allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and newly discovered evidence involving claims of actual innocence.
A challenge before Florida's Supreme Court will address whether, or the extent to which, it runs afoul of Florida's Constitution.
Regardless of the outcome, concerns about undue delay are best addressed through a comprehensive review of Florida's entire death-penalty process by all branches of state government intended to minimize the risk that innocent people (or others who shouldn't be subject to the death penalty) might be executed. This essentially is the position The Florida Bar's Board of Governors adopted in February.
In March, Florida's Supreme Court established a Capital Postconviction Proceedings Subcommittee to seek input from stakeholders; its scope is limited.