Reacting to death penalty decision, Richard Corcoran says courts ‘subvert will of the people’


Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran said he was “profoundly disappointed” by Friday’s state Supreme Court opinion invalidating part of the state’s death penalty.

The court ruled 5-2 that death sentences require a unanimous jury, striking down a new law allowing a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 out of 12 jurors recommend it.

“Make no mistake, those impacted most by this miscarriage of justice are the families as they watch the perpetrators of some of the most heinous and vicious murders and tortures continue to live the days their loved one were denied,” Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, said in a statement.

“This decision is indicative of a court that comes to a conclusion, then seeks a judicial pathway, however tortured, to achieve its desired result,” he said. “That is antithetical to the rule of law and dangerous for our state.”

Friday’s ruling “is just the latest example of the Florida Supreme Court’s ongoing effort to subvert the will of the people as expressed by their elected representatives,” Corcoran added.

House Republicans have for years been inveighing against the judiciary, having unsuccessfully tried to pass a measure this past session that would have imposed term limits on Florida’s appellate-level judges.

The conservative majority has been angered by the court over what members perceive to be overly liberal interpretations of law by most of its justices.

The Legislature passed a measure this year, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, that overhauled the law, in reaction to a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The new law requires at least 10 out of 12 jurors must recommend execution for it to be carried out. Florida previously required that a simple majority of jurors recommend the death sentence.

“We will take a close look at today’s ruling and consider our options going forward,” Corcoran said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


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