The jury in the Colorado Death Penalty trial of James Holmes came back against capital punishment this week, and news reports are that the reason Holmes was spared the death penalty was due to a single juror who stood firm against it.
In Colorado, that single juror has big power. Not so in Florida.
For instance, here in Florida, Byron Burch was recently spared the death penalty in a case where Terence Lenamon argued to the jury that he should be spared. The jury agreed, and came back with a recommendation of life without parole.
To read Terry Lenamon's Opening in the Burch Penalty Phase, as well as the one given by the state's attorney, check out our earlier post of visit Terence Lenamon's Online Library (see the left sidebar link).
Florida Jury Difference in Death Penalty Cases
Many people assume that for someone to get the death penalty, there has to be 100% agreement among the jurors, or at least a majority of 10 to 2. Colorado requires an unanimous agreement, which is why that sole juror was able to thwart the state's desire for capital punishment.
However, in Florida, things are different. Here, in a death penalty case, there needs to be a mere 7 to 5 jury vote in favor of the death penalty for a Florida jury to recommend capital punishment for someone.
Which means that it's much easier to get the death penalty in Florida than in other states and why Terry's victory last week is so impressive.
Note: Right now, the United States Supreme Court has a case pending before it that challenges Florida's current death penalty jury process. See our earlier post for details.