More than seven years after an 8-year-old girl was abducted from a Jacksonville Walmart, raped and murdered, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments this week about whether a man sentenced to death in the slaying should receive a new trial.
Florida Supreme Court
Justices unanimously rejected an appeal by James Terry Colley, Jr., who was convicted of killing his estranged wife, Amanda Cloaninger Colley, as she tried to hide from him in a bathroom of her home. He also was convicted of murdering Lindy Dobbins, who was hiding behind a chest in a closet when she was shot, according to the Supreme Court opinion.
The majority ruling was one of a series of opinions this year in which the Supreme Court, newly packed with right-wing judges, has reversed course on death-penalty and criminal legal precedents, opening the way to swifter and death sentences with fewer obstacles.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a statute of limitations bars two women from pursuing a lawsuit against an Orange County church and other defendants over allegations that the women were sexually abused by a church worker when they were children.
In a rebuke to Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected his selection of a circuit judge to serve on the Supreme Court and gave the governor until noon Monday to appoint another candidate from a list of nominees offered early this year.
Rep. Geraldine Thompson’s attorneys challenged the constitutionality of the appointment and contended that the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission should provide a revamped list of candidates to DeSantis.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday appointed John Couriel and Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court, choosing two justices expected to cement the court’s conservative majority for years to come.
The 4-1 decision stunned public defenders, who expressed concern not only about its implications for juvenile sentencing but also about a reshaped court emboldened to revisit issues the legal community had considered settled.
The prosecution is arguing that a Supreme Court decision last week may make the re-sentencing of convicted murderer Cornelius Baker, scheduled to start in four weeks in Bunnell, if unnecessary.
The Florida Supreme Court said unanimous jury recommendations are not necessary before death sentences can be imposed, backing away from a 2016 decision. The ruling puts in question the case of Bunnell’s Cornelius Baker, scheduled for a re-sentencing in February.