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Rick Scott Victorious in Death Penalty Legal Battle Against Aramis Ayala

August 31, 2017 - 12:30pm

The Florida Supreme Court handed Gov. Rick Scott a win over Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala on Thursday, officially ruling Scott has the authority to take away Ayala’s death penalty cases.

In a 5-2 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Scott, who stripped Ayala of nearly 30 cases after her office declared it would no longer pursue the death penalty. Scott then reassigned the cases to neighboring State Attorney Brad King.

Ayala fought back, taking the matter to court in April, alleging Scott didn’t have the authority to take away her cases, but she ultimately did not walk away victorious.

The court ruled the governor was able to reassign Ayala’s cases.

Rick Scott
Rick Scott

“The executive orders reassigning the death-penalty eligible cases in the Ninth Circuit to King fall well ‘within the bounds’ of the Governor’s ‘broad authority,’” wrote Justice C. Alan Lawson.

Gov. Scott, the judges wrote, did not attempt to interfere or decide which cases deserved the death penalty, but he did “faithfully execute” Florida law by guaranteeing the death penalty remained on the table for prosecutors. 

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and Jorge Labarga concurred with Lawson.

Justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince dissented, saying Ayala acted “well within the bounds” of Florida law regarding the death penalty and disagreed with her removal from the cases. 

Aramis Ayala
Aramis Ayala

“Every day State Attorneys are tasked with making tough choices as to which crimes to prosecute and which penalties to pursue in consideration of their offices’ limited resources,” Quince wrote. “Because State Attorney Ayala’s decision was within the bounds of the law and her discretion, Governor Scott did not have ‘good and sufficient reason’ to remove her from these cases.”

The governor praised the decision Thursday. 

“Crimes like these are pure evil and deserve the absolute full consideration of punishment – something that State Attorney Ayala completely ruled out,” Scott said in a statement. “She unilaterally decided to not stand on the side of victims and their families, which is completely sickening. In Florida, we hold criminals fully accountable for the crimes they commit – especially those that attack our law enforcement community and innocent children.”

Lawson went on to slam Ayala for misinterpreting state law by not seeking the death penalty for numerous cases. 

“Under Florida law, Ayala’s blanket refusal to seek the death penalty in any eligible case, including a case that ‘absolutely deserve[s] [the] death penalty’ does not reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it embodies, at best, a misunderstanding of Florida law,” he wrote. 

Moving forward, Ayala responded Thursday saying she had organized a death penalty review panel to throughly review first-degree murder cases. Ayala did not have details on which prosecutors, specifically, would sit on the panel. 

“With implementation of this panel, it is my expectation that going forward all first-degree murder cases that occur in my jurisdiction will remain in my office and be evaluated and prosecuted accordingly," Ayala said in a statement.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.



The chutzpah of these activists who think that their personal beliefs should then override public policy in spite of the state or federal law, if this prosecutor doesn't like to apply State policy to her job then resign and work for a private ambulance chaser like Morgan and Morgan or an avtivist slandering firm like the SPLC. I don't see her resigning because although her personal convictions won't let her apply the death penalty, they are not quite strong enough to let go of her salary.

Born and raised in Fl for 58 yrs. It is full of white supermacists, kkk, skin heads, Any other kind of mean white groups. Governor skin head here is the worse. The white judges are not any better. The cops there are so crooked. Waldo, fl sheriffs dept was closed due to illegal activites. Waldo is now watched by Stark's sheriffs dept. It goes on and on by white cops: rape, drugs, prejudice. I m sure this guy didn't mean to kill a cop. The cops probably set him up. Put him in a position, it was an accident. You know what I mean. Like when a cop shoots somebodys family pet because he is in fear of his life!!!!!!! Set him free!!!!

Pariente and quince won't be off the bench soon enough. Can't wait until the JNC sends governor Scott a list stacked with Federalist Society judges. Even better if a Democratic governor has to pick from a list of Federalist Society and John Birchers! Eat it judicial activists

Hoorah..for the Victims of these Crimes.....From. a Left Wing OpieBama Believer Cop Haters .anyone that tries to Make Political Statement instead of Justice By Laws should be REMOVED from there Office..IMPEACHED..NOW......Do YOur Job or GET OUT..

And I thought Quince was of sound mind. Intelligent. Sad to find this out.

What the hell is it with all of these affirmative-action educated individuals who believe their en-earned educations made them some kind of mini-gods not subject to review? They seem to be all over the place in governments today. Well I suppose nobody else would hire most of them.

Ah..... And there's all this talk about white supremacy, white privilege, and fascism? Let's start a program for white people similar to affirmative action and see how many riots start. Well said they feel a duty to address their free education free to them not to the taxpayers or more directly pointed to whites. What I don't like is a judge legislating from the bench. The two dissenting judges and this Ayala should be removed from the bench. The problem we have in our country is liberal lawyers on the bench and in politics. They are the root cause of all the problems we have today!!

Need to remove Ayala. Need to bring back firing squads for death cases. A lot cheaper and no flopping around. See what the liberal left whines about then. We ARE gong to kill them, right? Bam. Done with it. The leftists might want to consider the crime that got them there.

I disagree with the death penalty, but one person cannot say not to it, rather she should try to alter the law then flagrantly disregard it.

"BLANKET REFUSAL" is the key phrase. Can't wait to see how activists and activist media chose to spin this decision! And they will.

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