February 19, 2016
In response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst v. Florida that found Florida's system for sentencing a person to death unconstitutional, the Florida House on Thursday passed (
) HB 7101 that remedies the court's concern that a judge, not a jury, decide whether the circumstances of a crime warrant a sentence of death. In addition, the bill provisions include:
- After a unanimous finding of guilt, the jury must unanimously find the existence of an aggravating circumstance.
- Allow the judge to only consider the aggravating circumstances found unanimously by the jury.
- At least 10 of 12 jurors recommend death in order for a death sentence to be imposed.
The FCCB supports the Senate proposal, SB 7068, which requires unanimity by the jury throughout the sentencing process. However, if Florida is to continue to use the death penalty, a 10-2 jury requirement is an improvement over current law that allows a person to be sentenced to death on a recommendation of only a simple majority of jurors (7 of 12). SB 7068 is referred next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.