Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Electing Better State Attorneys in Florida



INTRODUCTION

“The primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict.  The prosecutor serves the public interest and should act with integrity and balanced judgment to increase public safety both by pursuing appropriate criminal charges of appropriate severity, and by exercising discretion to not pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances. The prosecutor should seek to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, consider the interests of victims and witnesses, and respect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants.[1]

      There has recently been increased recognition that prosecutors are the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system. Fordham Law professor John Pfaff argues that prosecutors are also primarily responsible for the phenonomenon of mass incarceration[2]. Whether due to political realities, stasis, or the nature of the adversary system itself, prosecutors have traditionally argued for lengthy sentences of incarceration regardless of the costs to society. Additionally, prosecutors possess great discretion but are rarely held accountable for their actions, except potentially by the voters.

       Around the country a new wave of reform-minded prosecutors has begun to win elections[3]. These candidates resist traditional appeals to “law and order” or locking up criminals and throwing away the key. Instead, this new breed of prosecutors are more responsive to the communities they serve. They recognize that incarceration is expensive and does little to change behavior positively. Once elected, these reform prosecutors are willing to work with other actors in the criminal justice system to implement policies designed for better outcomes.

      Florida has lagged behind other states when it comes to criminal justice reform. Our legislature has done little to stem the tide of inmates entering the system or to provide rehabilitation to them while incarcerated. Though significant reforms must be accomplished in the legislature, many genuine and positive changes can be accomplished at the local level by state attorneys.

       The 20 elected State Attorneys are constitutional officers with enormous power in their respective judicial circuits. In 2016, three candidates who ran on explicit reform platforms unseated incumbents who had been criticized for harsh policies. Aramis Ayala in the 9th Circuit (Orlando), Melissa Nelson in the 4th Circuit (Jacksonville) and Andrew Warren in the 13th Circuit (Tampa) have each made significant changes to their offices in the short time since their election. However, in other circuits, long-time incumbents continue to oppose even modest reform efforts. Additionally, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association has proven to be a significant roadblock to reform bills in the legislature.

     In 2020, 19 of Florida’s 20 State Attorneys will be up for election. With criminal justice reform issues taking on increased importance, voters in 2020 will have an opportunity to evaluate a candidate’s approach to the justice system. If Floridians want meaningful criminal justice reform, we will have to elect State Attorneys who are committed to reform policies. To have that opportunity we need to start the process of identifying those candidates and those issues that will lead to electing better State Attorneys in Florida.

   FLORIDA

     Article V, Section 17 of the Florida Constitution, requires that a State Attorney be elected for a four-year term in each judicial circuit. Chapter 27 of the Florida Statutes govern their powers and responsibilities. The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure provide additional requirements and guidance for prosecutors. Practically speaking, much of the power of the State Attorney comes from custom, tradition, and the personality of the office holder. Policies may vary widely among the judicial circuits depending on the mandates of the elected state attorneys, and this affects the rate of incarceration from each circuit[4].

     Perhaps the most important power vested in Florida prosecutors is the charging decision. Grand juries are required and typically used only in first degree murder cases. All other charging decisions are made by assistant state attorneys. Florida’s Criminal Punishment code bases sentencing recommendations on a scoresheet whose points are based on the charges. Other laws establish minimum mandatory penalties if certain allegations are made and proven. Still other laws require sentencing enhancements if the prosecutor elects to charge the defendant as a habitual offender or prison releasee reoffender. Once the prosecutor files charges in a case, his or her decision can severely circumscribe the ability of judges to fashion appropriate sentences. Day to day in the courts of Florida, prosecutors control most plea bargains and sentences.

     At the local level the State Attorney influences many aspects of the day-to-day operations of the judicial circuit. The court calendar, trial scheduling and discovery deadlines are all established only after significant input from the prosecutor. Most counties and circuits maintain criminal justice or public safety commissions that set local criminal justice policy. State Attorneys tend to have significant influence at these commissions. Finally it bears noting that the State Attorneys Office is a pipeline to the judiciary. In many circuits more than half the judiciary has prosecutorial experience.

      Elected State Attorneys and their assistants are generally not held accountable for their misdeeds. Trial courts are reluctant to impose sanctions even for egregious misconduct. Appellate courts have developed doctrines such as “harmless error” or “failure to preserve,” which incentivizes misbehavior. Theoretically lawyers who work for the State Attorneys office are accountable to the Florida Bar. In reality prosecutors rarely face sanctions for unethical or abusive behaviors. The best way to hold elected officials accountable is at the ballot box.

      Additionally, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association has significant influence over legislative policy. Led by longtime lobbyist Buddy Jacobs, the FPPA prides itself on standing in the way of reform efforts. Jacobs, who has served for nearly 50 years, has opposed “safety valves” for minimum mandatory sentences, opposed alternative sanctions for first offenders, and opposed judicial oversight over direct file decisions, to name just a few[5]. Although Jacobs serves at the pleasure of the Association, his longevity and institutional memory ensure that he is more powerful than any individual elected member.

       Advocates have been pushing the Florida legislature to adopt a package of minor reforms. These reforms would allow judicial “safety valves” to avoid minimum mandatory sentences for some first time offenders, raise the “felony threshold” for theft to an inflation adjusted $1,000 (from $300), and curtailing the use of monetary bond. None of these reforms have passed the legislature despite a general consensus as to their merits. If Floridians want immediate criminal justice reform, the solution is to elect better state attorneys who will be responsive to community sentiment.

  REFORM POLICIES

     Reformers suggest state attorney candidates should be questioned about a variety of issues and required to provide specific responses. Among the topics:

Monetary Bail Reform: The question posed by reformers is simple: Should a defendant’s wealth determine whether they remain incarcerated pretrial? If defendants are presumed innocent, how can we justify jailing them before trial, particularly for low level offenses? If the goal of bail is to ensure court appearance, are there other tactics that can succeed? Whether working with the chief judge to revise bond schedules, embracing diversion or supervision programs in lieu of bail, or making release recommendations at First Appearances, state attorneys have the power and opportunity to reduce the number of persons held in county jails pretrial.

  Conviction Integrity: Prosecutor offices around the country have begun conviction integrity divisions. In the best examples, trained attorneys and investigators review cases where serious questions have been raised about the guilt of a prisoner under sentence. If major flaws are identified, the prosecutor works with the court and defense counsel to identify a remedy, including retrial or dismissal. Sometimes this review extends to sentencing integrity, which includes codefendants who received widely disparate sentences or offenders who received maximum sentences for relatively minor conduct. In Florida, 4th Circuit State Attorney Melissa Nelson has opened a conviction integrity unit[6]. The 13th Circuit’s Andrew Warren has promised to open one by the end of 2018[7].

      State Attorneys can also lead the way in preventing wrongful convictions. They should advocate for laws that require recording all interrogations, improving eyewitness identification procedures, and strengthening independent forensic science review of cases. Prosecutors should also be cautious about presenting unreliable evidence, whether it comes from a confidential informant or a police officer with a history of false testimony. In the 13th Circuit, State Attorney Andrew Warren has held a wrongful conviction seminar, with presentations by exonerees, to help law enforcement and his staff change behaviors that led to unjust results[8].

  Sentencing Reform: Prosecutors control all aspects of the charging decision, which allows them to substantially control sentencing outcomes. Florida’s criminal punishment code allows the maximum sentence for all felonies but does not allow the court to mitigate sentences except in rare instances and in plea bargains. The result is that almost all cases are resolved by plea bargains between the prosecution and the defense, with little input from the judge. Internal state attorney office policies about making charging decisions and sentencing recommendations therefore determine outcomes in many of Florida’s judicial circuits.

       In Philadelphia, a reform candidate named Larry Krasner was elected District Attorney in 2017. Upon taking office, he issued a memo to his assistants outlining new charging and sentencing policies[9]. The memo requires assistant district attorneys to decline marijuana, paraphernalia and most prostitution charges. Additionally, prosecutors were advised to file lower gradations of theft charges and to increase reliance upon diversionary and reentry programs instead of jail. When jail is requested, in most cases the recommendation should be below the lowest end of the sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors must also announce and justify on the record why they are seeking incarceration and the financial cost of the sentence to taxpayers.

      In Florida, State Attorney candidates should be questioned about their support for diversion, reentry, and sentencing reform. They can also be asked whether they will take into account the collateral consequences of criminal convictions, such as barriers to employment or immigration status. Restorative justice practices have potential to help victims recover from criminal acts, and candidates should be asked about their familiarity with and support of such practices. State Attorneys can also ensure that fines and fees are reasonable, proportionate, and transparent and that probation terms are limited.

  Direct File Reform: Florida law presently allows the State Attorney wide discretion as to whether to prosecute juvenile offenders in adult court. The direct file decision is not reviewable by the judge in most instances. Prior to the elections of 2016, the 13th judicial circuit led the state in direct files (131 individuals in 2015-16)[10] Following Warren’s election, direct files of juveniles declined by 25% in his first year in office[11].

Accountability: Prosecutors are immune for most actions taken while in office. It is rare to see convictions reversed, even when the courts determine there has been prosecutorial malfeasance. The Florida Bar rarely reports that any assistant state attorney has been sanctioned for misconduct. Therefore, if there is to be accountability at present, we must rely on the elected State Attorney to adopt and enforce internal policies and discipline. State Attorneys should not only ensure compliance with the requirements of Brady and Giglio, they should demand professionalism from all their assistants. State Attorney offices must also be prepared to investigate and prosecute unlawful use of force crimes committed by law enforcement officers. They should be responsive to community input and oversight while maintaining independent judgment and transparency.

  Death Penalty: Shortly after taking office, 9th Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that her office would no longer seek the death penalty. Governor Scott then removed her from a number of pending prosecutions and reassigned them to another state attorney. Ayala challenged this in the Florida Supreme Court but lost. In response, Ayala announced she was forming a death penalty review panel to advise her in capital cases[12]. Melissa Nelson in the 4th Circuit and Andrew Warren in the 13th Circuit have substantially curtailed their offices pursuit of the death penalty since taking office. Now that a unanimous jury is required to impose the penalty, death sentences have fallen dramatically around the state. Voters should question candidates about the substantial expenses involved in capital cases and whether the office will be cautious about seeking death.

   Criminal Justice Reform: State Attorneys and candidates for the office should be asked if they are satisfied with the legislative positions taken by the Florida Prosecuting Attorney’s Association. Candidates should pledge to support outcome-based reforms that will reduce reliance on incarceration, and support treatment and rehabilitative alternatives to jail. At the local level, the State Attorney should be seen as a leader in efforts to make the system more fair, efficient and reliable. As always, actions speak louder than words. Be wary of elected State Attorneys who claim to be reformers when this is not supported by their record.

 THE 2020 ELECTIONS
       An elected State Attorney serves a four-year term. In 2020 reformers will have an opportunity to effectuate change, as 19 of Florida’s 20 State Attorney offices will be up for election[13]. It is possible that as many as a third of the incumbent office holders may choose not to seek reelection. Criminal justice reform is truly a nonpartisan issue and has liberal and conservative supporters, so it is important not to judge a State Attorney candidate on the basis of his or her party affiliation. Keep in mind that in Florida, many races can be decided at the primary level.

      Circuit-wide campaigns can be expensive and cover a large geographic territory. The best candidate will be someone with extensive criminal justice experience who also has experience in community affairs. If a candidate has served as an assistant state attorney, his or her track record should be thoroughly analyzed. Experienced criminal defense lawyers may be qualified, and there is also precedent of judges running for State Attorney.  The local criminal justice community should be able to identify a suitable candidate in each circuit and then ensure that person receives support.

   A number of groups have announced their intentions to assist reform candidates for State Attorney in upcoming elections. The American Civil Liberty Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice has begun a nationwide public education effort about the importance of prosecutors. “Real Justice Teams” (a political action committee) notes that the United States has 2,400 elected prosecutors and claims: “We exist to place progressive, reform-minded women and men who want to end mass incarceration in each of these 2,400 positions.[14]” “Color of Change” is another PAC that emphasizes racial justice and recently played a role in electing progressive district attorneys in Durham and Mecklenburg Counties in North Carolina. At the University of North Carolina, Professor Carissa Hessick has launched the Prosecutors and Politics Project. This project’s goals are to focus scholarly attention on the democratic accountability of prosecutors, analyze the relationship between prosecutors and politics, and increase voter knowledge about prosecutors and criminal justice issues.

       After election, other groups exist to help support reform-oriented state attorneys. “Fair and Just Prosecution” works with newly elected reform prosecutors to embrace “prevention-oriented approaches to public safety that are rooted in local communities, based on data and evidence, and less punitive whenever possible.[15] A collection of law professors, students, lawyers and advocates concerned about prosecutorial misconduct has started a website where they research mechanisms available to address and improve prosecutorial accountability.[16] A newly elected State Attorney must work with all of the many participants in the criminal justice system in order to effectuate positive change.

Conclusion:

       Florida is a leader in mass incarceration. The billions of dollars spent annually on the Florida Department of Corrections to lock people up might be better used elsewhere. Voters interested in criminal justice reform do not have to wait on the legislative process to see change. At the local level, the elected State Attorney is the most powerful actor and can implement significant reforms upon taking office. Voters need to exercise their ability to hold these powerful elected officials accountable to the communities they serve. The policies of incumbent state attorneys should be closely scrutinized. The election of 2020 provides Florida voters with an opportunity to elect a new class of State Attorneys who will truly “seek justice within the bounds of the law.”



[1] American Bar Association Fourth Edition of the Criminal Justice Standards for the Prosecution Function, Standard 3-1.2(b) “Functions and Duties of the Prosecutor.”
[2] John Pfaff Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform (2017)
[3]Law and the New Order: A Fresh Wave of District Attorneys Is Redefining Justice by Alan Greenblatt at Governing.com (April 2017 https://tinyurl.com/y7upqesy)
[4] See Florida Criminal Justice Circuit Profiles maintained by the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. 2015-16 (September 2017  https://tinyurl.com/y6why8gj)
[5] See :The Most Powerful Lawyer in Florida is Keeping Criminal Justice Reform by Ron Sullivan at the Huffington Post (4/3/2017 https://tinyurl.com/yc53jz28 )
[6]  See “In a Florida first, Jacksonville’s state attorney hired someone to exonerate inmates,” by Andrew Pantazi--Jacksonville.com (January 29 2018 https://tinyurl.com/yaho8nju)
[7] See “Hillsborough State Attorney vows to create conviction integrity unit this year” by Dan Sullivan—Tampa Bay Times (April 23, 2018 https://tinyurl.com/y7qhjztf)
[8] Id.
[9] See “New Policies Announced February 15, 2018”  https://tinyurl.com/ybzrx8jg
[10] See OPPAGA “Direct file of children to adult court is decreasing” (March 2017) https://tinyurl.com/y8jb27so
[11] See “State Attorney’s Community Report”  (January 2018 https://tinyurl.com/yauq8b3b)
[12] See “State Attorney Ayala rescinds her death-penalty ban” by Gal Tziperman Lotan—Orlando Sentinel (September 1, 2017 https://tinyurl.com/y73q7drg)
[13] Only the 20th Circuit will elect a new State Attorney in 2018.
[15] www.Fairandjustprosecution.org  “Our Work and Vision.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Opening the Back Door

OPENING THE BACK DOOR: A PROPOSAL FOR EXPANDING JUDICIAL MODIFICATIONS OF SENTENCE IN FLORIDA     by Adam Tebrugge    FLORIDA DEFENDER  |  Winter 2017-2018    35

      In 2004, Alethia Jones was arrested in Highlands County. She was charged with helping her sister sell a single piece of cocaine to an undercover office.1 For her role in the offense, Alethia’s sister received a four-year prison sentence. But because of her status as a habitual offender, and because the sale happened within 1,000 feet of a church, Alethia received a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Now 57 and confined to a wheelchair because she has only one leg, Ms. Jones has few prospects for release.2

     Alethia Jones is one of more than 96,000 inmates presently serving a prison sentence in the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), at a cost of almost $2.5 billion a year. Hundreds, if not thousands, of these prisoners are serving lengthy sentences that appear overly severe upon review. There is an emerging consensus that this “mass incarceration” of citizens is dehumanizing, expensive and unnecessary. Presently, reform efforts are focusing on reducing admissions to the prison system by providing community based alternatives and allowing judges more discretion, particularly when dealing with drug offenders. By closing the “front door” to prison, the population of inmates will be reduced over time. Even if these efforts are successful, however, they will do nothing for those inmates presently serving lengthy sentences.

     Prosecutors now say they would have “proceed(ed) differently” had the Alethia Jones case been heard today.3 But even if the prosecutor, defense attorney and judge all agreed that her sentence should be revisited, there is presently no mechanism under Florida law that allows for this to occur.    

     Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(c) allows a defendant to ask the trial court reduce or modify a sentence. The main drawback of this rule is that it requires the motion be made within 60 days of the sentence becoming final.4 This time limitation all but renders the rule meaningless because in most cases there would not have been any significant change in the relevant facts or circumstances likely to affect the trial court’s decision. And after 60 days have passed, there is no rule that allows for an inmate to request a modification of sentence even in cases where it appears that a manifest injustice took place during sentencing.

     If there is agreement that we should review the sentences of certain inmates to determine if they can be safely released into the community, what is the best way to build a “back door?” Previous efforts have proved unsatisfactory. Parole in Florida was eliminated for non-capital felonies committed on or after July 1, 1984. The legislature has greatly restricted the ability of the FDC to award gain time, as inmates in Florida must serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for release.5 And while theoretically executive clemency is a possibility, the process is cumbersome and not designed to review the cases of hundreds or thousands of inmates.6

     In “Changing the Sentence Without Hiding the Truth,” 52 William & Mary Law Review 465 (2010), Cecilia Klingele argues that judicial sentencing modifications are the best model for considering sentence mitigation.7 Placing review in the sentencing court avoids some of the policy concerns that led to the restriction of other early release mechanisms. Parole, clemency and gain time have all been rightly criticized for a lack of transparency, standards and accountability. When inevitably a freed inmate commits a new crime, the legitimacy of these release mechanisms is immediately called into question.

     What if we expanded the ability of the sentencing court to reduce an inmates’ lawfully imposed terms of imprisonment when specified criteria have been met? Klingele argues that judicial sentencing modifications would have more legitimacy because of the local accountability of the courts. Court proceedings are open and transparent in a way that neither the parole process or gain time award decisions can be. Additionally, the courts have the infrastructure already in place to allow for review, and experienced personnel to work the process efficiently. A court hearing allows for the participation of all interested parties, including victims. Courts also have experience crafting plans of community supervision for the inmate, with input from local providers.

      Ideally the three branches of government would work together in the interest of public safety to design a workable process. The legislature would identify inmates who are eligible for judicial review. FDC would provide information about behavior in prison and progress towards rehabilitation. Ultimately the judge would have the discretion and the responsibility of determining whether a modification of sentence was appropriate in a particular case.

     A process could be developed that requires the inmate file a written request that identifies the change of circumstances or manifest injustice of their sentence. The State of Florida would have the option of agreeing to the reduction or objecting to it on any lawful grounds. The sentencing (or successor) judge would determine whether to grant a hearing. Victims or their representative would be given notice and the opportunity to be heard. If the court granted the modification it would have to specify its reasons. There would be limited review based upon abuse of discretion.

     Other states have successfully experimented with expanded judicial modifications. In Maryland, the motion to modify must be filed within 90 days, but the court can reserve ruling for up to five years. A decision to mitigate a sentence must take place in open court after the judge has heard from the state, defense and victims, and the court has wide discretionary authority.8 Wisconsin recognizes that courts have the inherent power to change and modify their own legally imposed sentences at any time. The inmate’s motion must allege that their sentence was unduly harsh, or show the emergence of “new factors.”9 If filed within 90 days of the sentence the motion must be heard, but the court retains the discretion to hear the motion no matter when it is filed.

     The Model Penal Code (MPC) has considered the idea of a “Second Look” for inmates serving lengthy sentences.10 Under the MPC draft, a judicial decision maker would have the ability to reduce the sentence of prisoners who had served 15 years or more when “in light of current circumstances, the purposes of sentencing … would best be served by…a modified sentence.” Under this provision, the judge would have the discretion to appoint counsel and must give notice to prosecuting attorneys and to victims. Any modification would have to be done in open court and a decision to modify must be made in writing.

      In Florida, one change that should be immediately considered would be to modify Fla. R. Crim. Pro. 3.800(c) and allow the trial court to modify a sentence at any time upon stipulation of the State of Florida and the inmate. This change would allow for immediate relief in some of the most egregious cases or those where it is appropriate to release an inmate for medical or compassionate reasons. Elected State Attorneys are accountable to their communities and are experienced in communicating with law enforcement and victims. If the State agrees it is unnecessary to continue to incarcerate an inmate, the community can have confidence that appropriate factors were considered.

     Obviously, there are a number of issues that would have to be worked out before Florida could allow for widespread judicial modification of sentences. Decisions would have to be made regarding eligibility of inmates, criteria for the court to consider, and rules regulating the process. All of this would take time and effort, but the alternative is to do nothing and continue to pay the cost, both in terms of money and human capital. We can and must do better.

1 “One war. Two Races,” Sarasota Herald Tribune http://projects.heraldtribune.com/ one-war-two-races/alethia.

2 For a good overview of Florida law governing executive clemency, parole and conditional medical release, see How to Leave Prison Early (2015) by Reggie Garcia.

3 Email from Assistant State Attorney Brian Haas, 10th Circuit, to the Sarasota Herald Tribune: “If this case were before the court for sentencing today, this office would proceed differently.” http://projects.heraldtribune. com/one-war-two-races/alethia.

4 If the sentence is appealed, the motion may be made within 60 days after the trial court receives the mandate issued by the final reviewing court. Fla. R. Crim. Pro. 3.800(c). 5 Fla. Stat. 944.275 (2016).

6 Between 1980 and 2013, a total of 148 commutation applications were approved by the Florida Board of Clemency. Garcia, How to Leave Prison Early (Appendix A).

7 Much of this article is based upon ideas expressed in the Klingele article. Anyone interested in this subject should begin by reviewing that piece.

8 Maryland Rule of Court 4-345.

9 Wis. Stat. §973.19(2008).

10 Model Penal Code Sentencing §305.6 (Tentative Draft No. 2, 2011).



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mike Lambrix of Florida is scheduled to be executed Thursday, October 5that 6:00PM. He has been on Death Row for 33 years.
 
Please contact Florida Gov. Rick Scott and ask him to halt the execution of Michael Lambrix and grant a new clemency hearing. Phone: 850-488-7146 (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm ET) or rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com
  • Mike’s only clemency hearing was 30 years ago
  • Mike has a case for innocence and maintains he acted in self-defense
  • He twice refused offers to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence - had he done so he would have been freed years ago
  • Key witness testimony has now been tainted or recanted
  • The purpose of a Clemency Board is to intervene in cases like this where the courts are restricted due to “procedural bar” on allowing a hearing on his evidence of self-defense and other late discovered evidence of innocence
  • His jury votes for death were not unanimous. This sentencing scheme has since been ruled unconstitutional and is now unlawful
  • Mike is an honorably discharged, disabled Army veteran.
 
Governor Rick Scott
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: 850-488-7146 (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm ET)
Email: 
Rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

When you call or write, please be sure to give your name and where you live. If you are not a Floridian, provide a connection (i.e., visit Florida, have friends/family there, want to move there someday, etc). The staffer answering phones will be very nice and courteous. They won't question or challenge you. They simply record the issues that people are calling for and make a tally to give to the Governor.

That's why it is so important for your view to be known. You can simply say: "Please urge Governor Scott to halt the execution of Michael Lambrix and grant him a new clemency hearing." If you like you can add any of the reasons listed above.


Please share this message with others. Only with your help can the work be done and progress made.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hubert Humphrey's Speech on Civil Rights in 1948

Thursday, April 06, 2017

EVENT: "The End of the Death Penalty is Within Sight"

THE END OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN FLORIDA IS WITHIN SIGHT

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 Gainesville Citizens for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GCADP) hosts speaker Adam Tebrugge, a criminal trial attorney with extensive death penalty experience. The event, open to the public, will be held at 7pm at the Mennonite Meeting House of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1236 NW 18th Ave. The title of his presentation is
“The End of the Death Penalty in Florida is Within Sight”. Refreshments will be served and additional parking is available at the next door banks.

Attending and contributing to the discussion will be UF Law School Professor Kenneth Nunn, one of 3 UF professors who recently signed a letter in support of State Attorney Aramis Ayala. Ms Ayala has decided to no longer seek the death penalty in Orange-Osceola cases as it is too costly, takes too long, trapping victim’s families in decades of uncertainty, and is not a deterrent to future murders.

Miriam Welly Elliott, GCADP Co-Coordinator notes “this is a very timely event and topic given all that has occurred in the courts and legislature in Florida over the last year. Recent events with State Attorney Ayala have prompted questions about whether her stand will help bring about an end to the death penalty. We welcome the community to come join us in assessing whether Florida needs to maintain this flawed system of justice”.

Adam Tebrugge recently wrote “Our state just finished a 40 year experiment with an unconstitutional death penalty law. Executions and trials have been on hold for over a year. Florida is now ground zero for the national death penalty debate. It is time for an honest discussion of the extraordinary costs and shameful legacy of the death penalty while we support the courageous leadership that will bring executions in our state to an end.”

Adam Tebrugge is a board certified criminal trial attorney with extensive death penalty experience. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Thomas Cooley Law School in Riverview, Florida where he teaches "Death Penalty Seminar." He is also a board member with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
 


Friday, December 09, 2016

Orlando 12/10: Florida Criminal Justice Reform Training for Faith Leaders