After the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that says Florida’s death-penalty laws is unconstitutional, legal experts are left with more questions than answers as to what happens next with the state’s 390 inmates on death row, including the two men sentenced to die within the next two months.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re dealing in philosophy than actual law,” said Teresa Reid, master legal skills lecturer at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.
Following the court’s decision, the attorney for one of the two, Michael Ray Lambrix, asked the Florida Supreme Court for an appeal. Lambrix’s execution is set for Feb. 11.
The attorney, William McKinley Hennis III, was not available for comment.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is asking the Florida Supreme Court to deny a stay of execution to Lambrix.
McKinley Lewis, public information officer for the Florida Department of Corrections, said the DOC will abide by any state or federal laws handed down regarding executions.
“It’s up to the Florida Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court to decide what happens with cases that have upcoming execution dates,” he said.
Reid, who is an expert on capital punishment and created a course on death penalty at UF’s law school, said there are multiple questions surrounding the Supreme Court ruling and what it means for cases that have been sentenced as well as those that are awaiting trial.
“The Florida legislature now is going to have to look at what to do with part of the law that’s been struck as unconstitutional,” she said, adding that lawyers representing defendants in death-penalty cases will attempt to protect their clients through all possible avenues.
“If you feel like your client has been unjustly convicted, you’re going to do what you can to make sure the execution doesn’t occur.”