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Ayala v. Scott

Supreme Court of Florida

August 31, 2017

ARAMIS DONELL AYALA, etc., Petitioner,
v.
RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR, Respondent.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF FILED, DETERMINED.

         Original Proceeding - Quo Warranto

          Marcos E. Hasbun and Mamie V. Wise of Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP, Tampa, Florida; and Roy L. Austin, Jr., and Amy E. Richardson of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, LLP, Washington, District of Columbia, for Petitioner

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Amit Agarwal, Solicitor General, Jordan E. Pratt, and Jonathan L. Williams, Deputy Solicitors General, Office of the Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Daniel E. Nordby, General Counsel, and John P. Heekin, Assistant General Counsel, Executive Office of the Governor, Tallahassee, Florida, for Respondent

          Shayan Elahi of Shayan Elahi, P.A., Winter Park, Florida, for Amici Curiae The Dream Defenders, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Let Your Voice Be Heard, Inc., Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, The New Florida Majority, SEIU Florida State Council, Color of Change, and Advancement Project

          Adam S. Tanenbaum, General Counsel and J. Michael Maida, Deputy General Counsel, Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida, for Amicus Curiae The Florida House of Representatives

          Arthur I. Jacobs, Richard J. Scholz, and Douglas A. Wyler of Jacobs, Scholz & Associates, LLC, Fernandina Beach, Florida, for Amicus Curiae Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association

          Mark Herron and Robert J. Telfer III of Messer Caparello, P.A., Tallahassee, Florida, for Amici Curiae Senator Oscar Braynon, Senator Jeff Clemens, Senator Perry Thurston, Senator Gary Farmer, Representative Janet Cruz and Representative Sean Shaw

          Daniel J. Gerber of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, Orlando, Florida, for Amici Curiae Family Members of Victims

          Sharon L. Kegerreis of Berger Singerman, Miami, Florida; Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Chad I. Golder, and Sarah G. Boyce of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, Washington, District of Columbia; and Mark B. Helm, and John F. Muller of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Amici Curiae Former Judges, Current and Former Prosecutors, and Legal Community Leaders

          Nancy G. Abudu and Jacqueline Nicole Azis of ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc., Miami, Florida; and Brian W. Stull, Senior Staff Attorney of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Durham, North Carolina, for Amici Curiae American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the Sentencing Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.

          Seth Miller, President of Innocence Network, Innocence Project of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida; Norman Adam Tebrugge of Tebrugge Legal, Sarasota, Florida, and James C. Dugan of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, LLP, New York, New York, for Amici Curiae The Innocent Network and Witness to Innocence

          Ashley M. Litwin of Seitles & Litwin, P.A., Miami, Florida, for Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

          Sonya Rudenstine, Gainesville, Florida, for Amici Curiae Victims' Service Providers and Homicide Victims' Family Members

          LAWSON, J.

         Aramis Donell Ayala, State Attorney for Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit, petitions this Court for a writ of quo warranto, challenging Governor Rick Scott's authority under section 27.14(1), Florida Statutes (2016), to reassign the prosecution of death-penalty eligible cases in the Ninth Circuit to Brad King, State Attorney for Florida's Fifth Judicial Circuit. We have jurisdiction. See article V, § 3(b)(8), Fla. Const. For the reasons below, we deny Ayala's petition.

          BACKGROUND

         At a March 15, 2017, press conference, Ayala announced that she "will not be seeking [the] death penalty in the cases handled in [her] office." Several times during the same press conference, Ayala reiterated her intent to implement a blanket "policy" of not seeking the death penalty in any eligible case because, in her view, pursuing death sentences "is not in the best interest of th[e] community or in the best interest of ...


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