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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida law doesn't require unanimous jury for death sentence



Times staff writer Alexandra Zayas examines a law that makes Florida unique among all states:

In Florida, defendants must be found guilty by a unanimous vote, whether they steal a car or kill. But when it comes to recommending the ultimate punishment, a simple majority, 7-5, suffices.

This is the only state in America that allows such split juries to recommend death. And it matters. In 2012, almost two-thirds of the defendants sent to Florida's death row were ushered there even after some of the jurors believed they should be spared.

A Republican state senator is trying to pass legislation that would bring Florida in line with the rest of the nation, in which most states require a unanimous vote. Juror Davis hopes he succeeds.

He feels the cup vote was premature and thinks a unanimous requirement would have deepened the discussion.

"There would have been a lot more tension, arguing," he said. "I mean, it very well could have been a different outcome if we were able to talk about what we thought."

Read the story here.

[Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:36am]


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