Gov. DeSantis calls for juror ‘supermajority’ to suffice in death penalty cases
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/3/23- Gov. Ron DeSantis after taking the oath of office for his second term, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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'Obviously a majority of the jury has to, maybe a supermajority.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis started out his week with the Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA), where he discussed his desire to allow juries to administer the death penalty via a supermajority vote, rather than requiring unanimity.

“Fine, have a supermajority. But you can’t just say one person (can decide against the death penalty). So maybe eight out of 12 have to agree? Or something. But we can’t be in a situation where one person can just derail this,” DeSantis said at the group’s winter conference in St. Johns County, discussing death penalty verdicts left unachieved because of a rogue juror.

DeSantis told the FSA Monday that he wants a “supermajority” to constitute a sufficient vote count for execution. The pitch comes in the wake of the Parkland killer not getting the death penalty because of what DeSantis called one person’s “idiosyncratic” approach to the proceedings, though there ultimately were three votes not to execute the murderer.

The former student killed 17 people with an AR-15 on Valentine’s Day 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in one of the most infamous school shootings in American history.

After he made some points about the justice system’s delays and the slow “wheels of justice,” DeSantis then went on to impugn the “one” holdout juror’s credibility for going against the consensus.

“If you will never administer the punishment, you just can’t be on the jury. Our law authorizes it. But you’re in a situation where you have 12 jurors, and just one juror vetoes it, then you end up not getting the sentence,” DeSantis lamented. “And so I think you had an 11 to one decision, where the 11 said he should get capital punishment.”

“One said no. And we don’t know what went into that,” DeSantis acknowledged. “But I do think there are people who get on these juries who never intend to administer capital punishment.”

“Bottom line is this probably can be changed by statute,” he added. “And it’s one thing to say, yeah, obviously a majority of the jury has to, maybe a supermajority. But that one person, being able to veto that?”

DeSantis said he was “disappointed to see that,” and he felt the contrary vote simply was “based on one person’s idiosyncratic views.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016’s Hurst v. Florida that a simple majority would be insufficient to execute, but it’s clear the supermajority may be considered a compromise by the Governor that could fly with a more conservative court.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


34 comments

  • SteveHC

    January 23, 2023 at 10:40 am

    Another example of DeSantis’ fascist-style authoritarian extremism. He has ZERO respect for the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, truly believing that his own opinions should be the “be-all and end-all” of governmental decision-making. Can’t get much more anti-American than that.

    Reply

    • dudleysharp

      January 26, 2023 at 4:49 am

      What DeSantis is calling for is to reject the most undemovratice vote in the US, whereby a super minority, 1 vote (8%) overwhelms the vote of a super majority 11 votes (92%).

      And, in fact, it is really 1 vote (2%) that can overwhelm 47 vote (98%), as there are 4 questions that have to be answered, against the murderer, for there to be a death sentence. 4 questions to 12 jurors.

      By definition,it would be fascist not to support DeSantis’ pro democracy suggestion.

      Reply

  • Claude Kirk the younger

    January 23, 2023 at 11:36 am

    Thank you America’s Govornor. An excellant first step to getting crime under control. America wants this Florida wants this. Pay no attention to the tiny numbers of oh so vocal lefties that are so mentally ill that they dont want the jury super majority put into effect America’s Govornor.

    Reply

    • Ron DeSantis Is a Fascist

      January 24, 2023 at 8:57 pm

      No, America does not want state-sanctioned killings. We are moving away from that barbarism.

      Reply

      • Paul Passarelli

        January 25, 2023 at 1:41 am

        Actually, only milquetoasts & pussies are afraid of exacting a penalty against individuals that have demonstrated a propensity to actual barbarism, e.g. murder.

        Even though the writer behind this Fake Alias is a clueless jerk, I’ll share a truth with you. If the State fails to uphold Law & Order, as so many Leftists seem to want, then there will be a tendency for a return to vigilante justice.

        Barely a week goes by these days when we don’t hear about a family member of a victim, having to do what some Leftwing prosecutor failed to do; punish the criminal.

        You say it’s barbaric to eliminate those that have proven they are hazardous to society, I say it is idiotic to allow them to continue to prey on civilized society.

        I could sleep soundly living next door to any man that has killed the criminal that killed a member of his family. He is no threat to me. I’d be up all night living next the man that killed someone’s family member during a robbery or other interaction.

        “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” — Dr. Michael Savage

        Reply

        • Ron DeSantis Is Not a Christian

          January 25, 2023 at 3:33 am

          It’s not upholding “law and order”. This guy has sat in a prison for many years because of his lawless behavior. Society gains nothing to execute him when we could simply keep him locked up until natural death. The only reason to execute him is bloodlust and a desire to exact revenge. Killing is wrong, and trying to demonstrate this fact by killing people is an oxymoron.

          Also, Jesus said to turn the other cheek if someone hurts you. Killing someone in retribution is “an eye for an eye”, which Jesus abolished.

          Reply

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 25, 2023 at 3:45 am

            Society gains his room & board the moment he stops breathing. His victims gain closure the moment he stops breathing. A clear message is sent the moment he stops breathing.

          • Ron DeSantis Sucks

            January 25, 2023 at 4:33 am

            All of those sound like bloodlust to me, and not valid reasons to put someone to death. The message clearly falls on deaf ears, anyway, since states with the death penalty tend to have higher murder rates than those without.

            I have to say that though I strongly disagree with you, it’s nice to have a civil discussion nonetheless. At least I’m not being verbally abused. Kudos to that!

      • dudleysharp

        January 26, 2023 at 4:56 am

        There was 86% US death penalty support in 2021 as well as in 2013.

        Poll: Death Penaltyu
        pdated 9/29/2021
        https(COLON)//prodpinnc.blogspot(DOT)com/2019/12/poll-death-penalty.html 

        Reply

  • cassandra

    January 23, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    Say what you want about Ron dePipsqueak, but you’ve got to admire his “pro-life” consistency…lol

    AGG should have made it clear that–despite Pip’s assertion—three jurors (1/4 of the jury) voted for life. Nine blood-thirsty jurors voted for death, but evidence shows that the nine pro-deathers went into the trial planning to vote that way–with no hope of letting any facts get in the way.

    Those nine jurors threatened at least two of the three pro-life jurors, stating that a death sentence must be given because they “can’t let down the Parkland parents”. A group of parents is not an aggravating factor, Pippy.

    Reply

    • Paul Passarelli

      January 23, 2023 at 1:07 pm

      Considering that there was zero uncertainty in the conviction, the ‘just’ result would be to chain the criminal to a chair and allow the parents of the victims to walk into a booth an press a button to watch the killer’s head be squeezed until it pops.

      *ONE* aggrieved parent would be sufficient to end that animal’s existence.

      And this has nothing to do with being “pro-life” because if that’s the way you want to frame it, then consider the killer’s execution a retroactive abortion. Albeit a bit too late for the real victims. People who choose to do evil do not deserve compassion. What evil has a foetus committed that it deserves to be torn apart with scissors, tongs & forceps?

      You cannot have it both ways. I have zero issue punishing malevolence and granting amnesty to innocence. The Left seems to have it backwards! Again! And again! And Again.

      Reply

      • cassandra

        January 24, 2023 at 12:56 am

        Parents doing whatever they do is understandable; state involvement is not.

        If Desantis was pro-life he would be getting his base excited about preventing the birth of unwanted children like Cruz. He would be convincing the base that contraceptives have to be free and available to women— where women are, out on the street if need be. He would be convincing MAGAs that free early medication abortions are needed to prevent unwanted children. Do you understand that “innocent” people are going to die as a result of this man’s lack of concern about the conditions under which unwanted children develop and are born and raised?

        It sounds like you think I am saying that it’s good to kill a fetus, and it’s bad to kill a killer. I am not trying to have it both ways. The government should not be killing people. And the government should not be forcing people to serve as life-support systems against their will. It’s not about stabbing fetuses. It’s not about innocence. What you or I feel about abortion does not matter. As unthinkable as you —and for all you know, I—- may feel third trimester abortions are, that’s how unthinkable I feel government use of a person’s body is. Actually more so. Maybe one exists, but I cannot think of any exceptions. It is completely consistent: the state stays out of people’s bodies whether they want to kill them or to use them as public utilities.

        Reply

        • dudleysharp

          January 26, 2023 at 7:44 am

          Cassandra:

          Some parents rape and murder their children. I do not find that understandable.

          Killing is moral and accepted when it is in self defense or in defense of others, in a just war and with executions, all in opposition to unjst aggressors,

          Oddly, we all know that there are individual living organisms within everbody, yet, somehow, the most distinct of these a fetus/child is not lookked at as a separate, individual living organism, but wroms, viruses, etc. are

          Reply

      • Ron DeSantis Sucks

        January 24, 2023 at 8:58 pm

        You cannot have it both ways either. You cannot claim to be “pro-life” while advocating for the destruction of mature, sentient life.

        Reply

        • Paul Passarelli

          January 25, 2023 at 2:04 am

          Who ever said I claimed to be “Pro-Life”? I say that because it’s a label that has certain connotations. I have no issue with a woman’s choice not to become a mother, as long as it is done early in the pregnancy!

          I firmly believe that exceptions for the life & health of the mother put the decision to terminate solidly in her court.

          I think that in cases of rape the default option should be for the medical staff to offer the option to terminate.

          And I think that in cases of incest the default option should be for medical staff to argue in favor of termination, as well as the pressing of charges, or at least psychological intervention for the ‘father’.

          But my argument is that all these decisions need to be made *promptly*. Typically as soon as the facts are presented. Most assuredly within a month of a missed cycle, and at most within two weeks of a second missed cycle.

          And before you drag out even rarer exceptions, I will say OK. But as I have written before, “Extraordinary circumstances make for bad laws.” The main issue is the quote-unquote ‘normal’ case well beyond the end of the first trimester.

          Besides, this discussion is about the just retribution that a convicted felon deserves, *AFTER* proving that he is a genuine threat to society.

          Sure there is some obvious (albeit minimal) inconsistency. But it is insignificant when compared to gross illogic exhibited by those that would allow the killing of an innocent while defending the life of a monster.

          “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” — Dr. Michael Savage

          Reply

          • Ron DeSantis Sucks

            January 25, 2023 at 3:34 am

            This felon has been locked up for 32+ years on death row. How is he still a threat to society? He could spend the rest of his natural life there and the result would be the same. Killing people to demonstrate the immorality of killing is wrong.

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 25, 2023 at 3:48 am

            Even if I could concede that he is not a threat, he is still a drain. Someone made that error in 1990 and an innocent woman paid the ultimate price.

        • dudleysharp

          January 26, 2023 at 5:09 am

          The Pro-life, Pro-death penalty perspective

          1) There is a huge moral difference between the killing of an innocent human life (abortion) and the killing of a guilty adult murderer (execution).
          2) The unborn baby is an innocent who should not be killed because of the errors of others. The mother should not kill her guiltless baby.

          Those are two primary, well known perspectives on the pro-life side, omitted by you. you either did so intentionally or you never looked at the pro-life perspective, prior to your comment.

          4) The pro-life side of the death penalty/executions is that

          a) the death penalty has, always, been viewed as pro innocent life and anti the life of the guilty murderer, with the expiation exception, and
          b) innocents are more protected by the death penalty/execution, in three ways, than with LWOP: enhanced due process, enhanced incapacitation and enhanced deterrence, with the first two being unchallenged and the third prevailing, with full fact checking/vetting.

          Reply

          • dudleysharp

            January 26, 2023 at 7:31 am

            RDS:

            Criminals are always a threat, which is why there are rapes, murders and escapes in prisons and why there are:

            1) locked cells in prisons
            2) locked doors, throughout
            3) armed guardsds,
            4) cameras and bright lights
            5) very high walls and razor wire

            You seem unaware.

          • Ron DeSantis Sucks

            January 27, 2023 at 5:55 pm

            If life is sacred, as the pro-life crowd claims, then the life of those who commit murder is also sacred, and should not be deprived by the state.

    • dudleysharp

      January 26, 2023 at 8:09 am

      A group of parents, whose children were murdered, is one of the major aggravating factors, which would be considered by the jury, as those parents gave vicitm impact statements.

      Are you unaware?

      Reply

  • Paul Passarelli

    January 23, 2023 at 12:57 pm

    I think this is a much more challenging question than most people understand. On the one hand when there is literally *no uncertainty* of guilt, then the convicted should not only hang, but hang quickly.

    In the other hand when the conviction is one that was only reached by *conclusion*, then the standard for imposing the death penalty should be a very high bar.

    It’s been said that extraordinary cases make for bad laws. I cannot agree more. This case was extraordinary. And allowing the governor to use it to push through new legislation to deprive the accused from some of the rights granted at trial is disturbing, to say the least.

    However, if the legislature can come up with some strong (morally & legally) standards to apply to future cases; including stiff penalties for prosecutorial malfeasance, then I would back that proposal. We really don’t need the scum of the earth taking up valuable prison resources. And we also need a way to determine if a juror with a hidden agenda was untruthful during voir dire.

    Reply

    • dudleysharp

      January 26, 2023 at 7:55 am

      Paul:

      You write “we also need a way to determine if a juror with a hidden agenda was untruthful during voir dire.”

      It is close to impossible to keep a good liar off or a jury, which is why Desantis’ 8 vote, majority (67%) is suggested,

      Reply

  • Teri Sopp

    January 24, 2023 at 7:36 am

    The death penalty is sought on an arbitrary basis, plenty of defendants have inadequate representation, and there is plenty of room for error. Abolish the death penalty now.

    Reply

    • Paul Passarelli

      January 24, 2023 at 10:43 am

      I have some questions for you Teri. Why should the taxpayers be on the hook to feed, clothe, & house convicted criminals for the rest of their natural lives? How does that benefit society in any meaningful way?

      While I agree with you that the DP has been applied nefariously in the past, a new and clear set of statutes that *rigorously* defines when the DP is appropriate and a strong set of criteria that would land prosecutors and or ‘law enforcement’ in deep shit for applying those statutes unfairly would benefit society in the long run.

      Don’t you think it’s also fair that some people put their money where their mouth is? If you wish to support useless criminals for the duration of their lives, then you would have to pay an extra ‘tax’ (or is it a fee?), into a special fund that is used to pay for their lifetime of upkeep. If that fund runs low, then the prisoners you wanted to keep alive might die from starvation, or exposure. So you’ll have lots of incentives to pay that extra tax that the rest of us would just as well avoid.

      Reply

      • Ron DeSantis is a Fascist

        January 24, 2023 at 8:59 pm

        You realize the death penalty is far more expensive than life in prison, right? We, the taxpayer, are stuck paying millions of dollars to put someone to death, and we still get it wrong. It’s so much better to just sentence someone to life in prison indefinitely.

        Reply

        • Paul Passarelli

          January 25, 2023 at 2:20 am

          It’s only expensive because the nut-jobs initiate streams of never-ending appeals.

          There was a time when the ‘justice system’ operated effectively. Sometime it still does. The OK City bomber ( I won’t write his name) has probably decomposed to bones & nitrogen compounds my now. There is always a small consolation when monsters like the Sandy Hook shooter (another name I will not repeat) takes his own life at the scene of the crime.

          Then there are the counterexamples. The pair that killed the Petit family are sucking up resources in a Connecticut prison. Apparently one of them now identifies as ‘trans’ as well. How much additional cost is associated with that hot mess I can only speculate upon.

          Their actions, and their convictions rest on a 100% certainty of guilt. They committed their home invasion murder on July 23, 2007. They should have both been in the ground by that August. The fact that they still draw breath 15-1/2 years later is a travesty.

          Reply

          • Ron DeSantis is anti law and order

            January 25, 2023 at 3:37 am

            It’s not “nut-jobs”. Lawyers are obligated to provide the best defense of their client, so they are obligated to do everything they can to prevent their client from being executed. You would want your lawyer to do the same thing, too, if you were on death row.

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 25, 2023 at 3:51 am

            I agree that lawyers are supposed to vigorously defend their client. But the lawyers that come out of the woodwork to enjoin the imposition of a sentence, especially when there is no hint of doubt of guilt are far more interested in making their bones than serving justice.

  • Ron DeSantis is a fascist

    January 24, 2023 at 9:01 pm

    Abolish the death penalty! It is cruel and unusual and has no place in a civilized society.

    Reply

    • Paul Passarelli

      January 25, 2023 at 2:22 am

      Better idea: Abolish crime that deserves the death penalty.
      Sounds stupid doesn’t it?

      Reply

      • Ron DeSantis Sucks

        January 25, 2023 at 3:40 am

        It sounds stupid because abolishing crime is impossible.
        Abolishing the death penalty is not. I will not vote for any candidate that advocates retaining the death penalty.

        Actually, the only positive thing I can really say about Ron DeSantis is that although he is pushing for the death penalty, he has signed very few death warrants.

        Reply

        • Paul Passarelli

          January 25, 2023 at 3:53 am

          If that’s your litmus test then so be it.

          FWIW: Litmus tests in political contests are a tool of fools.

          Reply

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