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FLORIDA (USA): MIAMI FEDERAL JUDGE RULES DEATH PENALTY UNCONSTITUTIONAL

June 22, 2011: A Miami federal judge ruled that the way Florida courts mete out the death penalty is unconstitutional because juries — not judges — should be the ones to spell out which details about the crime justify execution.
U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez ordered that Paul H. Evans, convicted in a 1991 murder-for-hire case in Vero Beach, must receive a new sentencing hearing.
The ruling, likely to be argued in appellate courts for years, does not strike down Florida’s capital-punishment law. But it could force lawmakers to change the statute, and could give recent convicts new avenues for appeal, legal experts say.
“If the case survives appeals, the Florida Legislature is going to have to modify the law to allow jurors to explain why someone deserves the death penalty,” said Miami attorney Terry Lenamon, founder of the Florida Capital Resource Center, a support group for death-penalty defense cases.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, through a spokeswoman, said Wednesday that her office would request a rehearing and appeal the decision.
Legal scholars say Martinez’s ruling marks the first time a Florida judge has overturned a death sentence under the U.S. Supreme Court case Ring v. Arizona. In that 2002 ruling, the court held that defendants are entitled to have juries decide on whether any “aggravating factors” in a crime justify enhanced punishment.
Evans was convicted in the 1991 trailer park murder of Alan Pfeiffer. Jurors voted 9-3 for the death penalty in February 1999. The trial judge imposed death, finding that Evans committed the crime for “pecuniary gain” and the murder was “committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner.”
Whether any convicts will be resentenced because of Martinez’s ruling remains to be seen, but the opinion has reignited debate in the Florida legal community over the jury’s role in deciding on the death penalty.
Florida is one of the few states that allow juries to issue death penalty recommendations that are not unanimous. Here, 12-person juries recommend by majority vote whether someone convicted of first-degree murder should be executed. But state jurors do not have to check off on an instruction sheet which reasons contributed to their decision, as jurors are required to do in the rare death penalty case in federal court.
Trial judges in Florida’s state courts have authority to override jury recommendations, although in death penalty cases, they rarely do.
Judge Martinez, in the ruling said there was no way to know if all nine of the jurors in Evans’ case who voted for death were swayed by the same aggravating factors as the judge. He conceded that jury unanimity may not be constitutionally necessary, but wrote: “… It cannot be that Mr. Evans’ death sentence is constitutional when there is no evidence to suggest that even a simple majority found the existence of any one aggravating circumstance.” (Sources: miamiherald.com, 22/06/2011)

JAPAN: MAN TO HANG FOR KILLING WOMAN, 21
IRAN: DEATH SENTENCE FOR APOSTASY REPORTEDLY UPHELD FOR PASTOR NADARKHANI
IRAQ: PRESIDENCY RATIFIES DEATH SENTENCE AGAINST TUNISIAN
IRAN: 'TWENTY-SIX ALLEGED DRUG TRAFFICKERS HANGED'
EGYPT: CLERIC APPROVES COP'S DEATH SENTENCE
MALAYSIA: RESOLUTION OVER MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY
IRAN: JUDICIARY CHIEF INSISTS ON USE OF PUBLIC HANGINGS
EGYPT: POLICEMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING PROTESTERS DURING UPRISING
SAUDI ARABIA: ‘BLOOD MONEY’ PAYMENT SPARES INDONESIAN MAID FROM EXECUTION
INDIA: 4 MAOISTS GET DEATH FOR J'KHAND MASSACRE
MOROCCO: WORLD COALITION AGM OPENS WITH PLEA FOR ABOLITION
TUNISIA: RADICALS SAY TUNISIA MOVING TOWARDS ABOLITION
GEORGIA (USA): MAN EXECUTED FOR 1978 RAPE AND MURDER
ARKANSAS (USA): SUPREME COURT HALTS THREE EXECUTIONS
EGYPT: DEATH SENTENCE FOR BUS DRIVER WHO SHOT DEAD 6 COLLEAGUES
CHINA: COUNTERFEITER SENTENCED TO DEATH
PAKISTAN: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR BLASPHEMY
CHINESE COALMINER SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDERING MAN IN POLLUTION ROW
BAHAMAS: GOVERNMENT PLANS LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN DEATH SENTENCES
IRAN: THREE MEN EXECUTED
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: MAN TO BE EXECUTED FOR KILLING PREGNANT WIFE
AFGHANISTAN: TWO CHARGED IN DEADLY BANK ATTACK EXECUTED
IRAN: THREE MEN HANGED IN PUBLIC
LEBANON: SPY FOR ISRAEL SENTENCED TO DEATH
CALIFORNIA (USA): STATE TAXPAYERS HAVE SPENT $4 BILLION ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SINCE 1978
SOMALIA: AL SHABAB PUBLICLY EXECUTES 2 FOR SPYING
SAUDI BEHEADS INDONESIAN WOMAN CONVICTED OF MURDER
IRAQ: COURT GIVES DEATH PENALTY TO 15 IRAQIS OVER WEDDING MASSACRE
SOMALIA: AL-SHABAAB STONES A YOUNG MAN
INDIA: BOMBAY HIGH COURT SAYS SECOND CONVICTION UNDER NDPS NEED NOT BE DEATH

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