Does Florida's Injustice To Violate The Sixth Amendment

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Our Constitution has long required the criminally accused to be tried by their peers. The question before us today is whether Florida’s death sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment in light of the decision in Ring v. Arizona., 536 U.S. 584 (2002). We hold that it does violate the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.
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On May 2, 1998 there was a murder and robbery at a Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurant in Pensacola, Florida. Cynthia Harrison was an assistant manager and was scheduled to work with Timothy Hurst at eight that morning. When other workers showed up at 10:30 they found the door locked.
Tonya Crenshaw, another assistant manager, found the safe unlocked and open with money missing. A delivery driver found Harrison’s dead
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Initially, the Supreme Court made it clear in Spaziano v. Florida, that the constitution does not require the death sentence to be imposed by a jury. 468 U.S. 447, 460 (1984). A few years later, in 1989, this Court decided Hildwin v. Florida. 490 U.S. 638, 640. Hildwin reaffirms what Spaziano held, “Accordingly, the Sixth Amendment does not require that the specific findings authorizing the imposition of the sentence of death be made by the jury.” Id at 640-41. Just a year after Hildwin, Walton v. Arizona was decided. 497 U.S. 639 (1990). Walton upheld the Arizona sentencing scheme that allowed the judge to determine the death sentence based on additional facts. Id at 647-48. The reasoning in Walton being that the additional facts are not part of the “element” of the capital crime. Id at 649. A decade later we put a limit on the judge’s authority during sentencing in Apprendi v. New Jersey. 530 U.S. 466 (2000). Apprendi set a new precedent that seemed to conflict with Walton. Id. With the exception of a prior conviction, “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id at 490. MISSING SENTENCE HERE Id at…show more content…
Ring v. Arizona 536 U.S. 584, 598 (2001). Because Apprendi was “irreconcilable” with Walton insofar that the “trial judge, sitting alone, determines the presence or absence of the aggravating factors required by Arizona law for imposition of the death penalty,” we overruled Walton. Id at 588. Ring also states that finding an aggravated factor operates the same as finding an element of a greater offense than the defendant was charged and tried by the jury. Id at 609. “The right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment would be senselessly diminished if it encompassed the factfinding necessary to increase a defendant 's sentence by two years, but not the factfinding necessary to put him to death.”

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