FL Supreme Court prematurely releases ruling on death penalty

Florida’s Supreme Court did something they almost never do -they took back a ruling.

On Wednesday, the high court decided the state’s death penalty procedures were unconstitutional - an opinion that would have stopped prosecutors from seeking the death penalty on future cases.

Four hours later, the justices realized they released the ruling too soon. But that meant that, for those four hours Wednesday, Florida did not have a death penalty, according to attorney Anthony Rickman. 

"What we had here is the State Supreme Court issuing an order saying that the Florida death penalty - the statue is unconstitutional," explained Rickman.

They ruled prosecutors could no longer seek the death penalty in capital cases. It all stems back to October, when the justices said the procedure of a jury vote for a death sentence should be unanimous, and not a split vote, which is the current law.

But it turns out the high court let the cat out of the bag too early.

"What happened was, the Supreme Court published that order prematurely," said Rickman.

In explaining their decision, the justices referred to cases that are still pending in the court, and the opinions have not been released yet.

"So, until those opinions are published, the court can't release the order they released," explained Rickman.

But the message to lawmakers in Tallashassee was clear.

"Get to work right away, because we have a rare situation where the Supreme Court has called the shot. They have told the legislature, 'This is what we are going to do, we are going to find this law unconstitutional. In fact, we just published an order saying so,'" said Rickman.