News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Denounces Florida Governor's Interference with Prosecutor's Decision Not To Seek Death Penalty

Washington, DC (Mar. 17, 2017) – According to news reports, recently-elected Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala was removed yesterday from a death penalty eligible case by an executive order of Florida Governor Rick Scott. The reason, according to a statement from the governor, was that Ayala had announced that she would not seek the death penalty in this or other cases. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ayala said that after "extensive and painstaking thought and consideration," she had determined that seeking the death penalty "is not in the best interest of the community of the best interest of justice." Ayala said capital punishment in Florida had led to "chaos, uncertainty, and turmoil." She concluded that evidence shows the death penalty is overly expensive, slow, inhumane, and does not increase public safety. "Some victims will support and some will surely oppose my decision," she said. "But I have learned that the death penalty traps many victims, families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty, court hearings, appeals and waiting."

"State Attorney Aramis Ayala's thoughtful analysis of the pros and cons of seeking the death penalty should be respected, as should the will of the Orange and Osceola Counties' voters who just elected her," said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "Governor Scott should honor the well-reasoned decision of a State Attorney, rather than allow his zeal to impose the death penalty to override that decision. Prosecutors are supposed to seek justice on behalf of the people. In not seeking the death penalty, State Attorney Ayala was doing just that. Whether Governor Scott personally agreed or disagreed with the State's Attorney, he should have commended her courageous decision, rather than criticizing her and removing her from the case."

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Ivan Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs and Communications (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.