A Miami-Dade judge has ruled that Florida’s death penalty is unconstitutional because jurors are not required to agree unanimously on execution, a decision certain to spur more legal wrangling over Florida’s capital punishment system, reported the Miami Herald.
Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch on Monday became the first state judge to rule on the constitutionality of Florida’s revamped death-penalty sentencing law. Miami-Dade prosecutors immediately vowed to appeal.
He issued the ruling in the case of Karon Gaiter, 37, who is awaiting trial for first-degree murder for fatally shooting a man seated in a car in North Miami-Dade in April 2012.
Hirsch wrote that Florida’s recently enacted “super majority” system — 10 of 12 juror votes are needed to impose execution as punishment for murder — goes against the long-time sanctity of unanimous verdicts in the U.S. justice system.
“A decedent cannot be more or less dead. An expectant mother cannot be more or less pregnant,” Hirsch wrote. “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.”
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