Last fall, SCOTUS ruled that the Florida death penalty law was unconstitutional.  Florida legislators immediately got to work revising the state’s capital punishment statute and a new death penalty law went into effect not too long ago.

Now, Florida Circuit Court Judge Milton Hirsch has turned things on their heads regarding this revised statute by ruling it to be unconstitutional, as well. 

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Hirsch Finds New Florida Death Penalty Law Unconstitutional

Why?  Judge Hirsch finds that it is unconstitutional not to have a capital jury vote unanimously for the death penalty.  The new Florida law does not require all the jurors to vote for death in order for the defendant to be sentenced to death. 

What does this mean? 

1. New and Pending Matters

Prosecutors dealing with new and pending capital cases will face making trial decisions in the face of this new law being ruled unconstitutional by Judge Hirsch.

Criminal defense lawyers will have to deal with new and pending cases in the aftermath of this decision, too.

For more on this story, read the Miami Herald coverage today.

2. Convictions and Death Row

Meanwhile, for all those Death Row inmates who’ve already had a trial, they still await word on Hurst v. Florida, where the Florida Supreme Court will be ruling on whether or not they get new sentencing hearings, etc. 

For more on that case (including reading the amicus brief filed by Terence Lenamon / Florida Capital Resource Center) read last week’s post.

Read Hirsch Opinion in Terence Lenamon Online Library

Also, the Hirsch Opinion in Florida v. Gaiter has been stored in the Terence Lenamon Online Library: 

Florida v Gaiter Order by Miami Circuit Judge Hirsch