Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Death Penalty in Florida Is Flawed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Death Penalty in Florida Is Flawed

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

From the looks of things, it seems that the Florida Supreme Court may soon stop the state from sending people to Death Row when jurors can't agree on whether the convicted person ought to die.

Timothy Hurst, who is on Death Row for killing a convenience store clerk in Escambia County, is arguing that his sentence violates the Sixth Amendment because only seven out of 12 jurors agreed that he should be condemned.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially ruled that if jurors are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt as to whether the death penalty should be imposed, then that violates defendants' Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury.

According to the Times-Union, if the court, which is expected to return a ruling next year, sides with Hurst, 62 people on Death Row from Northeast Florida could have their sentences overturned.

It will also mean that Florida, at least in that respect, will stop being an anachronism; it is only one of three states that doesn't require juries to be unanimous on seeking the death penalty.

What it may also mean, though, is that while some guilty people may get to live, so will some innocent people.

Florida has the highest number of exonerations from Death Row than any other state. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, of the 143 people freed from Death Row since the states began reinstituting the death penalty in 1976, 24 were from the Sunshine State.

That's not all.

The Washington Post recently reported that nearly every examiner with the FBI Laboratory microscopic hair unit gave tainted testimony in 257 of 268 criminal trials in which they presented evidence for more than two decades before 2000. Thirty-two of the defendants were sentenced to death while 14 were either executed or died in prison.

Then there's Florida. …

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