The Supreme Court of Florida this week denied [opinion] a petition by State Attorney Aramis Ayala challenging Governor Rick Scott's power to reassign her death penalty eligible cases, reported Jurist. Ayala announced in March of this year that she would no longer be seeking the death penalty in cases handled by her office. In response, Scott issued numerous executive orders assigning Ayala's ability to prosecute such cases to State Attorney for Florida's Fifth Judicial Circuit Brad King . Scott argued that the Florida Constitution empowered him to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
The court concluded that the power to reassign death penalty eligible cases to another state attorney was well within Scott's constitutional and statutory powers. The court added, "Ayala's blanket refusal to seek the death penalty in any eligible case ... does not reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it embodies, at best, a misunderstanding of Florida law." Local news sources have reported that Ayala respects the decision of the court and will begin working with fellow state attorneys to resume evaluating first-degree murder cases in her jurisdiction.
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