TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on a dispute between a Florida state attorney who refuses to seek the death penalty and Gov. Rick Scott, who has reassigned her murder cases to another prosecutor (all times local):
A lawyer for a Florida state attorney who refuses to seek the death penalty says there is nothing in state law that forces her to do so and told the state Supreme Court the Gov. Rick Scott had no right reassign 24 murder cases to another prosecutor.
Attorney Roy Austin told justices on Wednesday that he can find no other instance where a governor took away cases from a state attorney without their consent. He represents Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who said in March she wouldn’t seek the death penalty in the case of Markeith Loyd. He is charged in the fatal shooting of an Orlando police officer.
A lawyer representing the Republican governor said there has never been a state attorney who has set a blanket policy of not seeking the death penalty.
Florida Solicitor General Amit Argarwal said it’s essentially as if Ayala nullified the death penalty in her district.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s power to strip a prosecutor of murder cases because she won’t seek the death penalty will be tested before the state Supreme Court.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala is asking the court to block Scott from assigning her Orlando-area murder cases to a neighboring prosecutor.
Justices will hear arguments Wednesday in the dispute that began in March when Ayala said she wouldn’t seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who is charged with the fatal shooting of an Orlando police officer, or any other death case.
Scott said he reassigned the cases because Ayala isn’t following Florida law. Ayala argues that Scott doesn’t have the right to take the cases from her because she’s independently elected.