TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has finally responded to last week’s federal court decision that Florida’s death penalty is unconstitutional. Bondi’s office said the decision was erroneously applied and questioned the federal courts right to interpret Florida law.
The case surrounded Paul H. Evans who asked for a writ of habeas corpus claiming that his Sixth Amendments rights were violated because a jury did spell out what contributing factors caused it to recommend the death penalty.
The state took issue with the decision saying at the time of the original conviction and denial of appeal by the Florida Supreme Court, the decision that Judge Martinez cited was not in effect because the U.S. Supreme Court had not issued its ruling yet.
Bondi’s office said federal Judge Jose E. Martinez committed errors “of both fact and law” saying the claim of Sixth Amendment violations was first raised during post-conviction hearings.
The AG’s brief said the Florida Supreme Court had already rejected the claim; and that the state had rejected the argument that the death penalty shouldn’t be imposed because the jury made no unanimous findings of fact before recommending the death penalty.
The state also said Judge Martinez should have given deference to the decision of the Florida Supreme Court as to the way state laws are interpreted. The state had previously found that the 2002 Ring V. Arizona decision did not apply to the state’s death penalty sentencing scheme.
Martinez can issue a ruling on the attorney general’s brief any time, but Bondi said the state will take the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals if Martinez doesn’t rule for the state.