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RECENT RELEASES - FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
APPEALS--NON-FINAL ORDERS--ORDER DENYING SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY. In response to a certified question, the Court held that Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(C)(xi) does not permit an appeal of a non-final order denying sovereign immunity if the record shows that the defendant is entitled to sovereign immunity as a matter of law but the trial court did not explicitly preclude it as a defense. However, the Court found the subdivision in its current form insufficient to protect the public and governmental interests served by sovereign immunity, and amended the rule. The Court made corresponding amendments to the rule subdivisions governing immunity in civil rights claims arising under federal law and immunity under section 768.28(9), Florida Statutes. <
CRIMINAL LAW--MURDER--SENTENCING--DEATH PENALTY. The state appealed from an order by a post conviction court setting aside a death sentence and ordering a new penalty phase proceeding after the court found that the sentence had been imposed in violation of state and federal constitutions as interpreted and applied in Hurst v. State. The Court receded from Hurst v. State except to the extent that it held that a jury must unanimously find the existence of a statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury in the defendant's case unanimously found that, during the course of the first-degree murder of one victim, the defendant committed the crimes of attempted first-degree murder of another victim, sexual battery, armed burglary, and armed robbery. The Court held: "Under this Court's longstanding precedent interpreting Ring v. Arizona and under a correct understanding of Hurst v. Florida, this satisfied the requirement that a jury unanimously find a statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt."
CRIMINAL LAW--SENTENCING--NONSTATE PRISON SANCTION--DANGER TO PUBLIC--FINDING BY JUDGE RATHER THAN JURY--PROPER REMEDY. The Supreme Court held that the proper remedy for harmful error resulting from the court, not the jury, finding the fact of dangerousness under section 775.082(10) is to remand for resentencing with instructions to either impose a nonstate sanction of up to one year in county jail or to empanel a jury to make the determination of dangerousness, if requested by the State.