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Newly conservative Florida Supreme Court has reversed 4 decisions in past year

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(The Center Square) – The Florida Supreme Court has ruled death row inmates cannot retroactively request sentencing hearings that would apply higher standards for determining mental competency mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014.

The 4-1 ruling reversed the court’s 2016 finding that allowed condemned prisoners to seek new sentencing hearings based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s higher intellectual disability standards.

Thursday’s decision marks the fourth time the panel has repealed previous Florida Supreme Court rulings since it was refashioned by Gov. Ron DeSantis early last year with appointments of conservative judges to replace three liberal justices.


The three – Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince – were forced into age-mandated retirement the day DeSantis took office in January 2019 and were succeeded by Barbara Lagoa, Robert Luck and Carlos Muniz.

Lagoa and Luck have ascended to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving DeSantis two vacancies to fill. He has delayed naming the new justices during the COVID-19 emergency.

With the three retirements, a 4-3 liberal majority became a 6-1 – now 4-1 – conservative bloc, leaving Justice Jorge Labarga the lone dissenter in a series of decisions over the past year, including:

• In May 2019, the Court repealed a 2017 ruling about expert-witness standards.

• In January, the Court reversed a 2016 decision requiring unanimous jury recommendations in death penalty sentences.

• In May, the Court redefined standards for circumstantial-evidence convictions, revising a 1981 finding.:snip:


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Some inmates released due to COVID-19 went on to allegedly commit crimes including murder

House Judiciary Committee Democrats are calling for the release of more prisoners due to COVID-19

Nicholas Ballasy

May 22, 2020

Some state governments have released inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic who have allegedly committed more crimes including murder, according to news reports. 

Governors are releasing inmates to help slow the spread of virus in detention facilities, where the population is especially susceptible because of close living conditions. However, some of the inmates released from jail have been re-arrested, in some cases, in connection with violent crimes.

A man released from prison in Colorado as a result of the coronavirus outbreak was later arrested in connection with murder in April.


On Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) reiterated his call for prisons to release more inmates to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

"The HEROES Act also includes a bill I introduced, called the 'Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act,' to help address this crisis in state and local prisons and jails," Nadler said, referring to the $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill the House passed last week. "This measure would utilize grant funding to incentivize the release of particularly vulnerable prisoners who are not a risk of harming others and to fund prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in prisons and jails."


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