Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August 2016 Election Recommendations for Sarasota and Manatee Counties

     Keep in mind that ALL registered voters get to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment and in school board races. If you are a registered Republican or Democrat,  you also have some primaries. I will let my Republican friends make their own selections. In Manatee County, two commission seats will be decided in August and are open to all voters.
     The school board races are of particular importance.

  U.S. Senate: Pam Keith
  U.S. Congress: Jan Schneider
  State Senator: Frank Alcock
  State House (Dist. 70) C.J. Czaia
  State House (Dist. 74) Manny Lopez
  School Board (Dist. 2) Caroline Zucker
  Constitutional Amendment 4 (Solar Power): YES
    U.S. Senate: Pam Keith
    U.S. Congress: Jan Schneider
    State House (Dist. 70) C.J. Czaia
    Manatee County Commission (District One) Corie Holmes
    Manatee County Commission (District 5) Kathleen Grant
    School Board (District  One): Ed Viltz
    School Board (District Three) David Miner
    Constitutional Amendment 4 (Solar Power): YES

Friday, March 4, 2016

Outline of Florida's new Death Penalty Law

Initial Analysis of Florida’s New Death Penalty Law
The Florida legislature has now passed a new death penalty law and sent it to Governor Scott. The Governor is expected to promptly sign the bill. Here are a few of the new features:
--The law is to take effect upon signing.
--The prosecutor must give notice of intent to seek death within 45 days of arraignment.
--This notice must list the aggravating factors “the state intends to prove and has reason to believe it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
--“The court may allow the prosecutor to amend the notice upon a showing of good cause.”
--At the penalty phase, the jury must unanimously determine whether the state has proven the existence of at least one aggravating factor.
--The verdict must identify each aggravating factor found to exist.
--If the jury does not unanimously find any aggravating factor, “the defendant is ineligible for a sentence of death.”
--If at least one factor is unanimously found by the jury, the defendant is death eligible.
--If death eligible, the jury makes a recommendation to the court as to whether the defendant is sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, or death.
--The jury’s recommendation is based on:
--whether sufficient aggravating factors exist;
--whether the aggravating factors out weight the mitigating circumstances.
--if at least ten jurors determine the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s recommendation shall be death.
--if fewer than ten jurors determine the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s recommendation shall be life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
--The trial judge makes the final decision.
--The trial judge may not override a life recommendation and sentence the defendant to death.
-- The trial judge may override a death recommendation and sentence the defendant to life.
--If the trial judge sentences the defendant to death, the judge may only consider those aggravating factors unanimously found by the jury.
--The new statute gives explicit directions to the trial judge as to what must be contained in the written sentencing order if the Defendant is sentenced to death.
--“If the court does not issue its order requiring the death sentence within 30 days after the rendition of the judgment and sentence, the court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment.”
Not in the statute but an obvious conclusion is that the Florida stand jury instructions for the penalty phase will have to be substantially rewritten. Additionally, new interrogatory verdict forms will need to be drafted.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Upcoming Speaking Engagements:

Friday, January  8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Speech to the Free Thinkers of Sarasota: “Should the Death Penalty in Florida be Reformed or Abolished?” Sarasota, U.U.

Monday,  January  11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. “Beyond Criminal.” Moderating a discussion on prison reform, rehabilitation vs. incarceration, and the death penalty.  Sarasota – Fogartyville

Friday, January 22, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. “Florida Criminal Justice Reform.” Venice, U.U.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. “Thurgood Marshall” panel discussion. St. Petersburg, Carter Woodson African American Museum.

Thursday, February 4 at 11:30 a.m. “Body Cameras for Police,” panel discussion. Sarasota, Tiger Bay.

Thursday, February 25 at 7:30: “An Evening with Van Jones.” Organizing and moderating. New College.