Florida lawmakers are again urging the governor to suspend a prosecutor who won’t pursue the death penalty. But constitutional lawyers argue Aramis Ayala’s actions don’t warrant removal.
House lawmakers are applauding the governor’s decision to take twenty-one capital cases away from state attorney Aramis Ayala. In March, the Orlando prosecutor announced she won’t be seeking the death penalty in her district. Longwood Republican Representative Scott Plakon wants Ayala out of office entirely.
“Certainly the subject is the death penalty. But it’s really not in my view about the death penalty. It’s about an elected official in our state acting in a lawless manner, in this case, trying to create law,” Plakon said.
Plakon is leading the charge to cut Ayala’s budget by $1.3 million.
Ayala's critics say her categorical refusal to seek the death penalty in any case in her jurisdiction empowers the governor to force her out of office. Altamonte Springs Republican Representative Robert Cortes grasped a copy of the Florida Constitution as he spoke against Ayala Tuesday.
“I believe this is neglect of duty. And she either must resign, or the governor must suspend her and appoint someone in her place,” Cortes said.
The state constitution empowers the governor to suspend elected officials under certain circumstances, such as a conflict of interest. But state attorneys have broad powers of prosecutorial discretion. And constitutional lawyers argue Ayala is exercising her rights, not neglecting her duty.