Florida’s highest court will wait to hear all arguments before deciding if the state’s governor has the right to take away cases from a prosecutor who says her office won’t seek the death penalty.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala had asked for an emergency ruling, but the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday denied that request for a temporary order pending a full review of the case by the court.
The justices said they would issue a decision after both sides had made all their arguments.
“That question is more properly addressed after both parties have been heard … and will not be answered on a ‘temporary’ basis,” the justices said.
Ayala’s district covers Orlando. She is challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s orders to reassign almost two dozen death penalty cases from her office after she said earlier this year that her office would no longer seek the death penalty.
The request for a temporary order by Ayala asked that another state attorney be stopped from taking over her office’s death penalty cases. The request called the transfer of cases “unnecessary, disruptive, and, possibly, illegal and unconstitutional.”
“The governor has no power to replace a state attorney based on disagreement with a state attorney’s prosecutorial discretion,” the request said.
Ayala became Florida’s first African-American state attorney when she was elected last year.
Dozens of prosecutors and judges from across the nation have filed a legal brief in support of her right to refuse to seek the death penalty.
But the decision also has created a backlash.
State lawmakers are considering proposals to cut funding to her office.
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