Court sides with Governor Rick Scott on reassigning death penalty cases

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In a 5-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court says Governor Rick Scott did not exceed his authority in removing death cases from Orange-Osceola prosecutor Aramis Ayala.

At a March 15th press conference, Ayala announced she would not seek the death penalty in cases handled by her office. She said several times during the press conference she intended to implement a blanket policy of not seeking the death penalty in any case because, in her view, pursuing death sentences "is not in the best interest of the community or in the best interest of justice."

In response to Ayala's announcement, Governor Scott issued a series of executive orders reassigning the prosecution of death-penalty eligible cases pending in the Ninth Circuit to Brad King, state attorney for Florida's Fifth Judicial Circuit.

The court says Ayala exercised no discretion, and at best, misunderstands the law.