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Attorney General Moody To Supreme Court on Death Row Inmates: Let ‘Em Die

| June 9, 2019

Ashley Moody. (Facebook)

Ashley Moody. (Facebook)

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office is urging the Florida Supreme Court to reverse course on decisions that allowed dozens of convicted murderers to have their death sentences reconsidered.

Moody’s office late Monday filed a 59-page brief in a case in which the Supreme Court is delving into whether changes in Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system should continue to be applied retroactively to cases dating to 2002.

The issue stems, in large part, from rulings in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court about the state’s death-penalty sentencing system. It also comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed three Florida Supreme Court justices early this year — turning what had widely been viewed as a liberal court into a conservative court.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, ruled that the state’s death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries, in deciding whether defendants should be sent to Death Row. That ruling led to sentencing changes, including requiring that juries be unanimous in finding necessary facts and in recommending imposition of the death penalty.

In a pair of decisions in December 2016, the Florida Supreme Court decided that the sentencing changes would apply retroactively to cases that became final after a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Ring v. Arizona. That was because the Hurst ruling was premised on the Ring decision.

The effect of the Florida Supreme Court’s move was to allow dozens of inmates sent to Death Row since 2002 to have their cases reconsidered.

But the court changed dramatically early this year, when longtime justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince stepped down because of a mandatory retirement age and were replaced by DeSantis appointees Barbara Lagoa, Robert Luck and Carlos Muniz.

After the turnover, the court issued an order in April that sought arguments from attorneys about whether it should reverse course — or, in legal-speak, “recede” — from the earlier decisions on the retroactivity issue.

In the brief late Monday, Moody’s office said the Supreme Court should recede from the December 2016 rulings in what are known as the Mosley and Asay cases and rule that the death-penalty sentencing changes are “prospective only” — in other words, applying only to new cases. Also, Moody’s office contended that the Supreme Court should not be prevented from revisiting the issue because of “stare decisis,” the concept of relying on court precedent.

“The decisions in Asay and Mosley were premised on ignoring long standing existing precedent without justification,” the attorney general’s brief said. “Consequently, neither should be protected by stare decisis.”

The Supreme Court’s April order requesting briefs on the retroactivity issue came in an appeal by Death Row inmate Duane Eugene Owen. His lawyers argue that retroactivity should apply to all death penalty cases, not only to those that were final after the Ring case was decided. That would mean also applying the new sentencing requirements to cases that became final before 2002.

But they also stressed that the court, at a minimum, should keep in place the current process of reconsidering cases that became final since 2002.

The Owen brief said that “declaring Hurst entirely nonretroactive would do serious injustice to the scores of capital defendants who have spent countless time and energy challenging their unconstitutional death sentences, as is their absolute right.”

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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15 Responses for “Attorney General Moody To Supreme Court on Death Row Inmates: Let ‘Em Die”

  1. Robin says:

    And I bet Ms. Moody is ‘Pro-Life’. (Insert sarcasm)

  2. William Moya says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume she is a Republican who works in concert with “we can monkey this up” governor.

  3. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Of course! Repuglicans stand firmly for life, except for the poor, the ill, the disadvantaged. Need to clean out our death row. New victims lining up.

  4. Richard says:

    My personal opinion of this countries application of the “death penalty” is ludicrous. Most offenders perceive the death penalty as life in prison due to the bullshit that follows for years upon years. If given a death sentence then carry it out immediately or at the least within a short period of time. I’d bet my house deed that it would reduce death sentence crimes dramatically.

  5. Optimist says:

    Lol. Nailed it Robin! Pro -life; AND Pro-death penalty! The double standard continues in other facets too! It’s too funny to overlook. But, On a similar subject though, when does a human life become no longer important? Like, at what age? When they’re adults? Not paying their share of taxes? Or when a crime is committed? Is that society’s shut off point of “giving a damn?” Gosh, If only it were a simple as it’s been made to be…

  6. Dave says:

    You can’t teach not to kill, by killing. That’s pretty basic.

  7. beachcomberT says:

    We have all sorts of liberal concern for the rights of Death Row inmates, and that’s fine. What about concern for the thousands of young people we continue sending to fight undeclared wars for purposes never clearly stated (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and more recently undisclosed points in the Mideast near Iran).

  8. Alphonse Abonte says:

    All Demorats might want to look at this,” Bill Clinton says he made mass incarceration issue worse”. How quick we forget that the Dems are the ones that REALLY want people to die! “I signed a bill that made the problem worse,” Clinton told an audience at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual meeting in Philadelphia. “And I want to admit it.”
    The omnibus crime bill that Clinton signed included the federal “three strikes” provision, mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes.

    Dems have amnesia on many subjects.

  9. SteveR says:

    Hi Robin
    I would also assume Ms. Moody is pro life, such as in the victims lives that ended early because of these murderers.

  10. Alphonse Abonte says:

    Why is killing convicted murderers immoral, but babies are a choice? I can never reconcile this oft kept morality.

  11. Thomas says:

    I like her attitude, and her common sense,

  12. Mary Fusco says:

    Optomist, To answer your question, human life is very important. Where are the victims’ rights, their families rights? Why is it that some people can live their whole life without interacting with law enforcement, except for maybe a speeding ticket, while others start from the time they are 12 or 13 years old and continue until they die one way or the other? I say get them off the streets and keep them off the streets so that the law abiding citizens who get up, go to work, raise a family, keep a home can live a peaceful existence. I agree with what another poster said. If the death penalty were carried out within a reasonable time after sentencing, a lot of these crimes would be cut down drastically. Personally, I’m sick and tired of crime and the defense of criminals. Go to work for what you want or do without.

  13. Vinnie says:

    My kind of woman !

    Light em up

  14. John H Yankovich says:

    There is no double standard for the Republicans who believe in pro-life and the death penalty! Those who receive the death penalty have committed heinous crimes and have forfeited their right to live in a civilized society! The pro-life stance is stated to protect the unborn who are entirely innocent. You can’t mix apples and oranges, the result is faulty logic! John H Yankovich

  15. Barney says:

    Did they not have their day in court? What about the victims ?

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