U.S. Supreme Court rules Florida's death penalty system unconstitutional

by

comment

Five days after Florida executed Oscar Ray Bolin, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the state's death penalty system as unconstitutional because it gives more power to judges over juries on who decides capital sentences. 

The judges ruled 8-1 in Hurst v. Florida that the state's capital sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment because it requires the judge, not the jury, "to make the critical findings necessary to impose the death penalty," according to the brief. During sentencing, juries play only an advisory role, and judges can choose to ignore a jury's recommendation or impose the death penalty even if the jury did not rule unanimously or agreed on the critical findings.   



"The Sixth Amendment protects a defendant’s right to an impartial jury," Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes for the majority. "This right required Florida to base Timothy Hurst’s death sentence on a jury’s verdict, not a
judge’s factfinding. Florida’s sentencing scheme, which required the judge alone to find the existence of an aggravating circumstance, is therefore unconstitutional." 

This story is developing.



We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.