This week, the Miami Herald published the opinion piece written by Raoul Cantero, former Florida Supreme Court justice, and Mark R. Schlakman, senior program director for the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University. 

Mr Schlakman also participated in the American Bar Association’s Florida Death Penalty Assessment. You can read that report in its entirety online in pdf format.

It’s worth your time to read their article entitled " Florida ignores ‘unanimous jury’ legislation in death penalty cases at its peril."

Here’s why: 

Florida allows death penalty juries to recommend the death penalty by a majority vote.  Every other state in the country that allows for capital punishment requires a jury to be unianimous in their decision to punish with death.

The Florida Supreme Court doesn’t like this and back in 2005, it asked the Florida Legislature to change Florida law and require juries to be unanimous in their death penalty recommendations. 

Nothing happened in the statehouse. Although last year, State Senator Thad Altman (a Republican representing the Melbourne area) drafted legislation that would change Florida law and require juries to be unanimous in their recommendations of the death penalty.  You can follow that bill online here – it died in committee.

Over in the Florida House of Representatives, State Representative John Patrick Julien (a Democrat out of North Miami Beach), introduced a similar bill for the House’s consideration in tandem with Altman’s bill. Follow it here – it didn’t survive committee either.

Cantero and Schlakman go into detail on the hows and whys of this situation. Whether or not they have any impact up in Tallahassee, time will tell.