Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Lawyers Want Judge off Case for Resentencing; Shimeek Gridine Was 14 When Sent to Prison for 60 Years by Soud

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man's Lawyers Want Judge off Case for Resentencing; Shimeek Gridine Was 14 When Sent to Prison for 60 Years by Soud

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

Lawyers for a Jacksonville man originally sentenced to 70 years in prison when he was a juvenile want the original trial judge to recuse himself from the resentencing.

Shimeek Gridine shot a 36-year-old business owner in 2009 during a gas station robbery when he was 14. After he pleaded guilty to attempted murder, Circuit Judge Adrian Soud sentenced him to 70 years in prison.

That sentence was later thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court, which found Gridine's sentence violated the limits on juvenile penalties set by the United States Supreme Court. In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court, citing evidence that children do not have fully developed brains, barred sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes.

The case now is back in Jacksonville, but Gridine's lawyers argue Soud showed bias against Gridine during the original sentencing and Gridine fears he will not be fair in the resentencing.

Prosecutors with the office of State Attorney Angela Corey are not taking a position on whether Soud should step down.

"In Mr. Gridine's case, the State Attorney's Office neither opposes or agrees with the motion to disqualify Judge Soud," said spokeswoman Caroline Davidson. "We are leaving this matter to the discretion of the court."

During Gridine's original sentencing, Soud said being 14 did not excuse Gridine's actions or warrant a shorter sentence. When attorneys for Gridine later made a motion arguing the sentence was a cruel and unusual punishment that violated Gridine's Eighth Amendment rights, Soud rejected that argument and said the sentence was justified based on Gridine's actions because he intended to kill.

In their motion to recuse Soud, attorneys Buddy Schulz and Diana Johnson said the judge must recuse himself if the motion is legally sufficient, and cannot make a ruling based on the facts alleged. They cite a court case that says "no judge under any circumstances is warranted in sitting in the trial of a cause whose neutrality is shadowed or even questioned."

Soud has not yet ruled on whether he will step down from the case. …

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