With so much action at the Florida Supreme Court this week, our blog’s silence has been justified by our lack of silence on the home front. Last Thursday, Florida Court Review got a new correspondent in the form of a 7-pound, 15-ounce baby girl. She and mom are doing great, and we are all enjoying the orientation period.
But there’s no rest for the weary, and certainly not these days, when we’ve seen 30 out-of-calendar opinions from the Florida Supreme Court in 3 days, and Friday, the governor signed a death warrant.
30 opinions in 3 days, line-drawing edition
Of course, while you may be having a baby, the Florida Supreme Court isn’t. They’ve been busy churning out opinions rejecting the post-conviction challenges of prisoners whose death sentences were final before Ring v. Arizona. These prisoners filed successive post-conviction motions on Hurst grounds only. The circuit court rejected the motion, and the prisoner appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. We’ll call these Hitchcock orders, because the court issued stays for these prisoners while Hitchcock was being decided. Now that the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Hitchcock and SCOTUS has denied review in that case, the FSC is releasing boilerplate orders denying relief.
Justice Pariente writes separately in each, acknowledging that Hitchcock is binding, while standing by her dissent in that case, where she blasted the court’s retroactive line-drawing that keeps an unconstitutional death sentence intact if it’s been around long enough (i.e., before June 24, 2002, when SCOTUS decided Ring).
Looks like they’re doing 10 per day, with 10 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week.
New Death Warrant–Eric Scott Branch
Gov. Scott signed the death warrant for Eric Scott Branch on Friday. Branch’s execution is scheduled for February 22 at 6 p.m. Branch’s death sentence was based on a 10-2 jury recommendation, and was final in 1997. In other words, unconstitutional under Hurst but too old to do anything about it under Hitchcock, Asay, Lambrix, and others. The Florida Supreme Court issued a Hitchcock order in his case on Monday.
Today we expect regularly-scheduled opinions at the Florida Supreme Court. We’ll tweet what we see, @fla_ct_rev.