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Fact-checking a Florida senator's claim about Supreme Court and death penalty



Florida Sen. Randolph Bracy argues that Gov. Rick Scott overreached when he issued an order removing Orlando-area prosecutor Aramis D. Ayala from a high-profile prosecution of an accused cop killer after she said she would not pursue the death penalty in murder cases.

Bracy, an Orange County Democrat and chairman of the Florida Senate criminal justice committee, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that prosecutors have broad discretionary power.

"Although Ms. Ayala’s critics have denounced her actions as dereliction of duty, they cannot point to a single law or statute that she has violated," he wrote in the April 4 op-ed. "That’s because she hasn’t. There are no federal or state laws that say prosecutors must seek death sentences. And the United States Supreme Court has banned all state laws that make executions mandatory for murders."

Legal experts told PolitiFact that Bracy is correct. Key court rulings about the death penalty forbid laws that force prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

Ayala, a Democrat elected as state attorney state attorney in Orlando and Osceola counties in 2016, announced in March that she would no longer seek the death penalty.  Her decision came while handling the case of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton amid a manhunt for Loyd after he allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.