After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

A Florida state attorney who refused to seek the death penalty lost her court fight Thursday with the Republican governor who reassigned her murder cases to another prosecutor. She insisted further on never seeking the death penalty, saying it is costly, inhumane, and can cause proceedings to drag on for years.

Scott was quick to show he was pleased with the ruling against the Orlando-based prosecutor.

Scott added that Ayala "unilaterally made a decision to not stand on the side of victims and their families, which is completely sickening". "This panel will evaluate each first-degree murder case in the 9th Judicial Circuit", Ayala said. "Because State Attorney Ayala's decision was within the bounds of the law and her discretion, Governor Scott did not have "good and sufficient reason" to remove her from these cases".

"The governor's orders do not direct King to seek the death penalty in any of the reassigned cases, and King has sworn that the governor has not attempted to interfere with his determination as to whether to pursue the death penalty in any case", said the majority opinion, written by Justice Alan Lawson. Oral arguments were heard in the case on June 28.

"Crimes like these are pure evil and deserve the absolute full consideration of punishment - something that State Attorney Ayala completely ruled out", Scott said in a prepared statement. Scott and others were outraged that she wouldn't consider the death penalty against Markeith Loyd in the slayings of an Orlando police lieutenant and Loyd's pregnant ex-girlfriend. Placing more power with the governor may open the door to future meddling with criminal cases, he said.

"State Attorney Ayala's decision was well within the scheme created by the Legislature and within the scope of decisions State Attorneys make every day on how to allocate their offices' limited resources", Pariente wrote.

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She also cited article IV, section 7, of the Florida Constitution, which states that the governor cannot remove a state attorney from office unless he or she exhibits neglect of duty, malfeasance or incompetence, among other things. Justice Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince questioned Agarwal whether prosecutors were required by the state to seek the highest maximum sentence in any case.

She did not publicly express any opinions about the death penalty during her campaign, in which she defeated incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton in an August 2016 primary open only to registered Democrats.

Scott's spokesman, John Tupps, said the governor does not plan to reinstate any cases to Ayala, at least for now.

That had led Gov. Rick Scott to strip murder cases away from her and reassign them to State Attorney Brad King in the neighboring Florida's 5th Judicial Circuit.

Thursday's ruling will become final in 15 days if Ayala does not file a motion for a rehearing within that time.

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