The Capital Cases Committee report was referenced in a Florida Bar News Article, MOST CAPITAL CASES ON HOLD FOR NOW by Jim Ash on October 16, 2020. You can find the full committee report below:

for October 9, 2020 Meeting

• The Committee met for the second time this Bar year on September 30, 2020.

• After roll call, and introducing our newest committee member, Judge-Elect Lyann Goudie, the committee was reminded of its Mission and Purpose:
This committee was created to keep the Executive Council aware of any changes to the status of capital litigation in Florida. It is intentionally constituted with members who give it a philosophical balance on the issues relating to capital crimes; so that parochial or ideological views do not sway the full committee.
The group concentrates on the changes in case law, legislative changes, and new Bar rules or procedures which might influence how capital cases, which are unique, would be prosecuted. If there are any modifications, this committee would advise the Executive Council; allowing it to respond as the voice of the Criminal Law practitioners in Florida.

• The committee then discussed the results of our informal polling of the different constituencies around the state about what, if any, capital cases are going forward now during this COVID shut-down/slow-down, and what, if any, issues/motions/concerns are being raised in response to COVID, or independent of COVID.

Committee chair, Judge Tatiana Salvador, reached out to the judiciary in all 20 circuits, and while not all responded, those that did confirmed that: 1) capital trials are not proceeding at this time, nor are they likely to proceed in the near future unless and until jury selections with large panels can be conducted safely and in accordance with all health guidelines (for those circuits which have already conducted in-person criminal jury trials, most jurisdictions are trying to first conduct trials in shorter, less serious non-capital cases in order to test the system and comply with all health guidelines, and in accord with the Florida Supreme Court’s latest Administrative Order); 2) some evidentiary hearings in capital cases are commencing, in person, in some jurisdictions (committee member Judge Samantha Ward confirmed she was scheduling same); and 3) other than motions involving speedy trial/demands filed in some criminal cases, there have been no other reported motions or pleadings unique to capital cases being currently introduced and litigated.

Judge-Elect Lyann Goudie reached out to her contact with defense organizations, including FACDL and FDPA, and reports the same as above. Additionally, Member Laura Lothman Lambert also reported that no different information was being reported from the FPAA.

Thus, the committee members concluded that based on the information from their respective jurisdictions and from these groups that it did not appear that neither the State, Defense nor Judiciary was pushing capital case matters, instead proceeding with caution and proceeding only in person, as opposed to a virtual platform (in order to avoid any challenges or objections to the right to confrontation).

Additionally, member Jane McNeil reported that there are no pending rule changes impacting capital cases. However, the committee will remain alert for any such pending changes in rules or laws given the ongoing work of the Florida Supreme Court COVID Task Force and the upcoming legislative committee meetings and session. Accordingly, at this time, the committee has no modifications or responses to suggest to the Executive Council.

Respectfully submitted,

Judge Tatiana Salvador
Capital Cases Committee Chair & Executive Council Member
October 2, 2020