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Florida Supreme Court stays execution amid constitutional concerns

[JURIST] The Florida Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday stayed [order, PDF] the execution of Cary Michael Lambrix amid growing concern about the constitutionality of Florida's death penalty scheme. The stay [case docket] comes after the US Supreme Court [official website] determined in Hurst v. Florida [opinion, PDF] that the death penalty was being improperly administered in the state and that the state's capital sentencing statute was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. Lambrix's attorneys argued, and the Florida Supreme Court agreed, that his execution must be stayed until state law is reconciled with the Supreme Court's holding in Hurst, in order to avoid error.

Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] rejected [opinion, PDF] a Georgia death row inmate's legal challenge [JURIST report] to the death penalty. Also this month, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] stated that he plans to ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate methods of execution [press release] if the state prohibits lethal injection [JURIST reports]. The US Supreme Court in January ruled [JURIST report] in Kansas v. Carr [opinion, PDF] that a jury in a death penalty case does not need to be advised that mitigating factors, which can lessen the severity of a criminal act, do not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt like aggravating factors.

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