Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Milton Hirsch ruled today that Florida’s death penalty system is unconstitutional due to a controversial element of state law that allows juries to sentence defendants to death without a unanimous decision.
According to the Miami Herald, Hirsch’s ruling will be the latest to stir the pot in terms of Florida’s death penalty.
Capital punishment in the state is already under review after the US Supreme Court ruled the sentencing system unconstitutional.
As the Herald points out, only Florida and Alabama allow non-unanimous juries to impose death sentences.
“A decedent cannot be more or less dead. An expectant mother cannot be more or less pregnant,” Judge Hirsch wrote in a court document obtained by the Herald. “And a jury cannot be more or less unanimous. Every verdict in every criminal case in Florida requires the concurrence, not of some, not of most, but of all jurors – every single one of them.”
Hirsch issued the ruling in the case of Karon Gaiter, who is accused of first degree murder.
The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case last week that could see all 390 people who are currently on death row in the state to be given life sentences due to the flawed sentencing system.
“Arithmetically the difference between 12 and 10 is slight,” Hirsch wrote in his opinion. “But the question before me is not a question of arithmetic. It is a question of constitutional law. It is a question of justice.”
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Cover Photo Credit: Andrew Petro/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)