FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 12. 2016
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

MIAMI, FL – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 8-1 in Hurst v. Florida that Florida’s system for issuing death sentences is unconstitutional.

Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, reacted to the ruling, stating:

“Just as the Florida legislature is gaveling in for a new session, the Supreme Court has delivered another blow to the crumbling legal foundations of Florida’s flawed death penalty system. Nobody should be surprised by this nearly unanimous decision by the nation’s highest court.”

“Our Legislature has repeatedly been warned by the Florida Supreme Court, legislators who had proposed corrective legislation, and advocates like the ACLU that the sentencing structure in Florida, by which a unanimous jury recommendation is required for guilt, but only a simple majority can recommend a sentence of death, is unconstitutional. Under Florida’s sentencing scheme, the recommendation of a jury is only advisory, and the judge is – unconstitutionally, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled today – given the power to be the ultimate fact-finder.

“Florida leads the nation in the number of people exonerated or released from Death Row for any reason. Florida is also the only state that allows a jury to recommend a death sentence by a majority vote. There is a relationship between these two aspects of the death penalty system in Florida.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Hurst v. Florida in June, 2015. A copy of the brief is available here: