Hurst v. Florida

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 9, 2015
  • Case #: 14-7505
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 147 So. 3d 435 (Fla. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether Florida's death sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment or the Eighth Amendment in light of this Court's decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002).

Petitioner was convicted of murder and robbery in 1998. The case was remanded for a new sentencing trial following the first appeal. Petitioner was again sentenced to death. Petitioner appealed. Among the issues raised was whether in light of the decision in Ring v. Arizona, courts must expressly find specific aggravators or issue a unanimous advisory verdict when justifying a death sentence. The Florida Supreme Court rejected this argument and affirmed the sentence.

The Supreme Court grants certiorari on the issue of whether Florida's death sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment or the Eighth Amendment in light of its decision in Ring v. Arizona. Here, the Florida Supreme Court held that Ring didn’t apply because “the Sixth Amendment does not require that the specific findings authorizing the imposition of the sentence of death be made by the jury.” Hildwin v. Florida, 490 U.S. 638, 640-41 (1989). Ring held that a jury must make the finding of facts to determine if aggravating factors exist that would enhance a sentence up to the imposition of death, but it never overruled this earlier holding, nor is Ring clear as to whether the Constitution requires a unanimous jury to find aggravating factors exist.

Advanced Search