Orlando Attorney Aramis Ayala was removed from 21 cases last week by Gov. Rick Scott. The Governor removed her from the 21 cases after she declared in an announcement the week before that she would not seek the death penalty in the high-profile case of Markeith Loyd. Markeith Loyd is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend who was pregnant at the time and is charged with the murder of an Orlando Police officer.

Ayala's decision

While Ayala’s decision has been met with controversy and backlash, including comments from Attorney General Pam Bondi, Sen.

Randolph Bracy from the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee has spoken out against the Governor’s decisions in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. After the interview had been conducted, the newspaper wanted some facts verified from a group called PolitiFact. PolitiFact confirmed that the statements made by Sen. Bracy were correct and that the U.S. Supreme Court has banned prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty as a form of punishment for their crimes.

“There are no federal or state laws that prosecutors must seek death sentences,” Sen. Bracy said in his op-ed article to the New York Times. PolitiFact said several court cases have rulings against the death penalty that were brought to the U.S.

Supreme Court from 1972 to as early as 1987. The US Supreme Court considers the death penalty to be a cruel punishment. However, during those years some states have found a way to include the death sentence in a criminal case if it was deemed justifiable. In this case, if someone were to murder a police officer or federal agent in the state of Florida for example, the defendant would be charged with the death penalty.

Discretion is key

There have been many critics of Attorney Ayala’s decision and what happened after her announcement. But some people said that her decision was against her power as an attorney for the state of Florida. Many advocates for the death penalty like Kent Scheidegger, who is the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, says that Ayala’s decision should have been based on the type of case.

Attorney General Pam Bondi noted that prosecutors could handle the case by case decisions on the types of charges and punishments they wish to pursue. We're always taught discretion is key, but sometimes discretion may not be useful in handling criminal cases in an equal manner.

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