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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Supreme Court rescinds order blocking death sentences in Florida



Just hours after declaring that the state can't prosecute death penalty cases, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rescinded the order, saying it was "prematurely issued."

At 1 p.m., the court took an unusual step in rescinding an order that said Florida's death sentencing laws, ruled unconstitutional in October because they did not require a unanimous jury vote for the death penalty, could not be used to prosecute cases. The court also deleted the earlier order from its website.

The Wednesday morning ruling was vacated because of a "clerical error," said Craig Waters, a spokesman for the court.

EARLIER: Supreme Court: There's no death penalty in Florida right now.

It's not clear what that error is.

However, Public Defender Rex Dimmig, who serves Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, said the court referenced the wrong statute in its earlier ruling. He does not know for certain why the court rescinded its order, but he says he has one idea:

Instead of writing that death penalty laws in section 921.141 of Florida Statutes was unconstitutional, the court identified section 941.141 -- a statute which does not exist.

"It may have simply been a scrivener's error and they wanted to rescind the order to correct the scrivener’s error," Dimmig said. "It could be that simple it could be something more complicated."

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 1:30pm]


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