Florida Prosecutor Sues Governor For Reassigning Her Cases After She Declined To Pursue Death Penalty

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A Florida prosecutor filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, after he took away 23 death penalty cases from her office.

Aramis Ayala sued Scott for giving some of her homicide cases away because she refused to pursue the death penalty in the case of an alleged cop killer, CNN reports.

“The governor did not take this drastic step because of any misconduct on Ayala’s part, but simply because he disagreed with her reasoned prosecutorial determination not to seek the death penalty under current circumstances,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also alleges that Scott hurt her reputation and violated her constitutional rights.

Scott removed Ayala from a case concerning alleged cop killer Markeith Loyd. Ayala refused to pursue the death penalty against Loyd, after concluding the death penalty for the case “is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice.” Scott took her off the case and gave it to 5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King in March. Scott then signed executive orders in early April reassigning an additional 22 homicide cases to King.

Scott argued that he reassigned the cases because her refusal to pursue the death penalty “raise(s) grave concerns.”

“The end of justice will be best served by the assignment of another state attorney,” the executive order stated.

One legal expert argued the move is unconstitutional because prosecutors usually have wide discretion on what to do in cases. But on the other hand, Florida law allows a governor to reassign cases based on “good and sufficient reasons.”

Scott defended his decision in a statement given to reporters Tuesday.

“Scott stands by his decision to assign State Attorney Brad King to prosecute Markeith Loyd after State Attorney Ayala refused to recuse herself … As Governor Scott has continued to say, these families deserve a state attorney who will aggressively prosecute Loyd to the fullest extent of the law and justice must be served,” the statement read.

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