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Prosecutor and governor to spar over death penalty in Florida’s top court

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The legal battle between Florida Governor Rick Scott and an Orlando prosecutor he removed from two dozen murder cases because she would not seek the death penalty goes before the state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Aramis Ayala, a Democrat who serves as state attorney for the Ninth Judicial District that covers Orange and Osceola counties in central Florida, sued the Republican governor after he took the cases from her in April.

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Ayala, the first black woman elected as a state attorney in Florida, has said the death penalty is not in the best interest of justice. She claims Scott is exceeding his authority, and she is asking the courts to give her the cases back.

Scott has said he believes Florida state attorneys should “prosecute individuals to the fullest extent of the law,” including the death penalty.

On Wednesday morning, the Florida Supreme Court will hear 20 minutes of oral arguments each from lawyers representing Ayala and Scott.

Ayala’s attorney, Roy Austin of Washington, has said Scott’s removal of a state prosecutor is unprecedented in the United States. Florida Politifact, a partnership between the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, says there are no federal or state laws that require prosecutors to seek death sentences.

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In court filings, Austin made clear that Ayala would proceed with her federal case against the governor if she loses in Florida’s top court.

The seven-member Florida Supreme Court is not expected to rule on Wednesday.

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Ayala took office in January for a four-year term. In March, she announced she would not seek the death penalty in murder cases.

At the time, her staff was building a case against Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December and an Orlando policewoman in January.

Her announcement prompted Scott to step in. The murder cases from Ayala’s district are now being handled by the Republican state attorney for an adjoining district, with the help of some of Ayala’s staff.

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Scott in March signed legislation tightening Florida law to require a unanimous recommendation by a jury before judges can impose the death penalty.

The law is the state’s latest effort to restart its death penalty process, which was put on hold last year after rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court in separate cases.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Black woman reveals how Trump is ruining her marriage: ‘My white Republican husband is starting to hate me’

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A black woman revealed over the weekend how President Donald Trump and right-wing media are straining her marriage.

In a Twitter rant on Saturday, a woman going by the name Glass Butterfly hit a nerve by starting a discussion about the challenges of interracial marriage in the age of Trump.

"My white Republican husband is starting to hate me because the longer we live through this administration the 'BLACKER' I become," she revealed. "Any interracially and opposing politically affiliated couples going through this? Like...I have NO idea how to balance who we are..or are becoming."

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Lawmaker Rashida Tlaib calls for boycott of Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’ over Israel comments

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., suggested a boycott against HBO host Bill Maher after he denounced the international movement to boycott Israel as a "bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class."

This article first appeared on Salon.

"Maybe folks should boycott his show," Tlaib wrote in a tweet on Saturday. "I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn't work then and it won't now."

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WATCH: ‘Hero’ walks into middle of Proud Boys protest and says ‘f*ck you’ to each of them

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A man became a hero to the internet over the weekend after he was captured on video saying "f*ck you" to members of a group of conservative protesters known as Proud Boys.

In a video that appeared to be from Saturday's protests in Portland, a man can be seen walking into a group of right-wing demonstrators.

"F*ck you," the man says, pointing at an apparent Proud Boys member.

"F*ck you," the man says again as he points at another member of the group.

The man then repeats the process over and over, pointing out a member of the Proud Boys each time. He did make an exception for a dog, which he described as "cool."

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