You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

POINT OF VIEW Prosecutor shouldn’t have broadcast decision to prejudge


With regard to Wednesday’s Palm Beach Post editorial, “Scott’s attack on attorney about power, not justice,” the issues are straightforward and not in dispute. An elected state attorney from Orlando, Aramis Ayala, refused to seek the death penalty in a case before her. This she was absolutely entitled to do. Unfortunately, she took one step too many when she added that because of her problems with the death penalty, she would not seek it in any case in her jurisdiction.

The editorial correctly points out that prosecutors have broad discretionary power and that every first-degree murder case is not a death penalty case. The editorial went on to point out that, “We don’t necessarily agree with Ayala’s position rejecting the death penalty in all cases. But we respect her authority… to do so.”

Respectfully, that is where the editorial misses the mark. While a prosecutor is given broad discretion in how to prosecute a case, with the grant of that discretion is the obligation to use it. Each case has to be decided individually based on its own merits. Discretion has to be exercised in each case. By asserting, as Ayala did, that she would never seek the death penalty in any case before her, she acknowledged that she was refusing to exercise discretion. She announced that she simply prejudged all cases without looking at the facts of any and refused to exercise discretion on each as she is obligated to do. The exercise of discretion and prejudgment are not synonymous.

Gov. Rick Scott was correct when he said that “… families deserve a state attorney who will take the time to review every individual fact and circumstance before making such an impactful decision.” Indeed, that is Ayala’s job.

The editorial quotes from a letter from some law professors, former judges and prosecutors supporting her saying that Ayala “… is solely empowered to make prosecutorial decisions for her circuit.” She is, but where the letter misses the mark also, is that she must make decisions based on each case. Exercising discretion is not prejudging every case beforehand. It is exercised based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Her refusal is a violation of her duty as a prosecutor.

A fish mounted on a defense attorney’s wall had the wry caption, “If he’d kept his mouth shut, he wouldn’t have gotten caught.” If Ayala had kept her mouth shut and simply chosen not to seek the death penalty, there would be no issue. By declaring that she would never seek the death penalty under any circumstances, she took a step too far.

ROBERT B. CARNEY, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Robert B. Carney is a retired Florida judge.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Medicaid’s rise symbolic of liberals’ welfare state run amok

The number of Americans enrolled in Medicaid has increased from 29 million in 1990 to 73 million today — an increase of 252 percent over a period when the nation’s population increased 30 percent. Total spending on Medicaid today is $574 billion, 275 percent above the $209 billion of 2000. Medicaid amounts to about 40 percent of the total...
YOUR VIEWS

Now we know why Scott nixed Medicaid option When the Affordable Care Act was rolled out, our Gov. Scott refused the option to expand Medicaid in Florida, even though the federal government was offering to cover 90 percent of the cost. Mr. Scott’s reason to refuse this generous offer was his belief that we could not depend on the federal government...
POINT OF VIEW: State Speaker should learn about ‘next-door government’
POINT OF VIEW: State Speaker should learn about ‘next-door government’

I was surprised recently by fellow Republican Richard Corcoran’s remarks at a Tampa breakfast. Corcoran, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, praised top-down Tallahassee solutions and claimed state politicians are less susceptible to special interest influence than local leaders. “To get something through in Tallahassee...
CARTOON
CARTOON

CARTOON VIEW JOHN BRANCH
Letters Wellington leaders backward; no ‘gray area’ about homosexuality

Wellington backward; no ‘gray area’ here We all are entitled to our opinion, and to voice it, but when the mayor institutionalizes it, it can be foolhardy and in the worst case, disastrous. (“Wellington bans ‘conversion therapy’; mayor is lone vote against,” June 14) Our mayor in Wellington, Anne Gerwig, stated &ldquo...
More Stories