Free Case Evaluation
  • American Broadcasting Company
  • Bar Register - Preeminent Lawyers 2017 Martindale Hubbell(R)
  • NADC
  • NBC
  • Martindale Hubbell Preeminent Lawyers
  • Top Lawyers in Florida 2014
  • CNN
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Fox
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • AVVO
  • HLN TV
Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
“Out of the Box” Defense Strategy
Free Case Evaluation

SCOTUS: Florida's death sentencing system is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of the United States handed down a historic decision yesterday in Hurst v. Florida, a case that has already created major shockwaves in our state's criminal justice system, calling into question the fate of nearly 390 men and women currently sitting on death row.

Here, the underlying issue in Hurst was whether Florida's death sentencing system is constitutional. 

For those unfamiliar with how it works, state law dictates that juries in capital murder cases must recommend either a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or a sentence of death. However, the ultimate determination rests in the hands of the presiding judge, who can engage in independent fact-finding and even disregard the recommendation made by the jury.

In Hurst, the jury voted 7-5 to recommend that the defendant be sentenced to death for the murder of his co-worker back in 1998, but neglected to articulate any aggravating factors. Thereafter, the presiding judge sentenced the defendant to death after determining via an independent fact-finding inquiry that at least two aggravating factors were present.  

In a groundbreaking 8-1 decision, SCOTUS reversed the death sentence, holding that Florida's death sentencing system was unconstitutional.

Specifically, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that a "mere [advisory jury] recommendation is not enough" and that the Sixth Amendment's right to a jury trial "requires a jury and not a judge to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death."

The decision was based in part on a 2002 case, in which the nation's high court struck down a similar death sentencing system in Arizona.

The case has now been remanded to the Florida Supreme Court, which experts say will be tasked with not only deciding whether the death sentence in Hurst can be upheld on other grounds, but also whether the decision should apply retroactively given that SCOTUS declined to apply it as such. At a minimum, they are expecting a temporary halt to all executions in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you've are under investigation or have been charged with any sort of violent crime, consider contacting an experienced legal professional as soon as possible as your freedom and your future is at stake.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

We Can Help Now

Contact Us Right Away

You need to act fast to get your loved one out of custody. Dial 954-462-1005 to get immediate answers from one of our attorneys. Sending an email is another way to reach us for a free initial consultation. We are available 24/7 and promptly respond to all messages.

Call our Fort Lauderdale office at 954-462-1005 or email us to schedule a meeting to discuss your case. Initial consults are always free of charge.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy