Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stay of Execution

As that first week of February began, the days to my scheduled execution were down to less than ten. I focused on separating all my property, which in truth wasn’t much and most was pretty much trash to anyone but me, but it had to be done as I knew that on Thursday February 4th I would move to the next phase of the death watch protocol.

What that meant is that I only had until February 4th to go through my personal property and decide who would get what, My Bible, watch, and other personal things would go to my son, and my mp3 player to my sister Mary. While my small television ad fan would would go to my older sister Debbie. The boxes of personal papers and legal work would be picked up by my friend who would sort all that out. And I would throw away a lot of trash that piled up over the years.

I spent the better part of Monday sorting through that and with each decision I made it brought the reality that I would soon die that much closer. But it had to be done and trying to ignore the obvious wouldn’t make it go away.




On Tuesday morning February 2nd the Florida Supreme Court would hold oral arguments on my case, but I wouldn’t be able to see them. Instead, at that same time I had a visit with my sisters Debbie, Mary, and Janet. Although Debbie and Mary have visited many times through the years, that was the first time my sister Janet had visited in the past 32 years. The last time I had seen her was in the courtroom where I was convicted and sentenced to death.

It was a great visit and all those years that passed, quickly faded away and it was as if we had just talked last week. That’s family. Years can pass without having any communication and just that quick we are talking as if no time had passed at all. Before we knew it, the few hours allowed for that visit passed and we had to say our goodbyes. At the time of that visit, they all expected that within a few days I would be put to death. That made saying goodbye that much harder.

Immediately after that visit with my sisters, my lawyer and the investigator assigned to my case stopped by for a visit as they wanted to tell me how the “oral arguments” on my case went earlier that morning and they told me that they went well, but that nobody could predict what the Florida Supreme Court might do when they ruled, nor even how long it would take for the Court to rule. With my execution scheduled for that following week, we expected a decision within days.

Just after 4 pm my lawyer left and after locking down the entire prison as is protocol for “death watch movement,” I was escorted back up that long main hall slowly shuffling along in the leg shackles and handcuffs and chains until we reached the very last door leading into Q wing, and then down the stairs and back to my death watch cell.

Within moments the phone on the desk in of the cell rang and the sergeant answered it… it was Warden Palmer and he wanted to talk to me. Not knowing what to expect ~ not too often any inmate gets a phone call from the warden ~ I reluctantly said, “hello?” and after that brief exchange of irrelevant formalities, Warden Palmer then informed me that the Florida Supreme Court just ordered my scheduled execution postponed to some as yet undetermined time in the future, allowing the Court time to reach its decision on the applicability of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in that Hurst v Florida case.

But I would remain on death watch as a temporary stay meant that at any given time the Florida Supreme Court could lift the stay of execution and proceed to carry out the execution.

Although it is unlikely that they would lift the stay before the originally scheduled date, it remains a possibility. If the court ordered stay remains in effect beyond Friday February 12th, then an execution would not be authorized until the Governor signs a new order of execution.  Under Florida Statute 922.06(2) once the Florida Supreme Court lifts this stay of execution then Florida’s Attorney General must certify that the stay of execution has been lifted and only then is the Governor statutorily required to set another execution date.

Bottom line, it’s almost certain that the Florida Supreme Court will not lift this stay of execution before February 12th, and so although I technically remain on death watch, I would not have any date set for execution.

That uncertainty of imminent death will continue to hang over me as there is no way to know how the Florida Supreme Court will ultimately rule. Within weeks I could go from being steps away from that execution chamber that now patiently continues to wait for me ~ or they could rule in my favor and just that quickly my sentence would be reduced to “life.” Under Florida law since my capital conviction was before 1995, that life sentence would mean that I would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years (as of March, 1983) so technically I would be eligible for parole in March 2008 ~ 8 years ago. But parole is totally discretionary and Florida rarely ever grants parole to any prisoner previously sentenced to death. I have no realistic expectation of parole. Still, it would be theoretically possible.

If the Florida Supreme Court rules against me, then my execution will be rescheduled. Most likely within a matter of weeks. My other appeals continue to be pursued and they too provide that hope that relief will be granted. Perhaps the courts will yet allow me the opportunity to be heard on the readily available evidence substantiating my innocence and this will be the year that I am finally exonerated and win my freedom ~ finally pursue my long held dream of to travel from coast to coast, visiting the National Parks, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and falling asleep beneath the stars at night.

For those that don’t already know, on January 30 the Sarasota Herald newspaper did a long article about me and my case titled “His Plea for Life at Florida’s Highest Courtand on February 9th a media interview was done with Politico that should also be televised and available online in coming weeks.




I would again thank all those for the cards and letters of support. The truth is that my primary source of strength through this have been those cards and letters, as well as the family visits I’ve received. I know that in many ways all of this is so much harder on those that care about me than it is even on me, myself. I remain truly blessed by all those who so selflessly reach out to me during these past weeks.

And then there’s friends that do so much to help and the phone calls, visits, and photos of my children and the smiling faces of my grandchildren, too.. Even as I feel all but crushed beneath the overwhelming weight of this process that virtually stalks my death, I find comfort in knowing that so many care and continue to hold me in their thoughts and prayers.

Last, a special word of thanks to whoever sent me that book “From the Depths of a Slaughter” by Angela Pomeranz. I personally knew both Timebomb and Bo, and their memories made me smile. Thank you.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Letter from Death Watch (part 8)

Another week already gone, and as I write this today there’s less than two weeks to go before my scheduled execution. It’s been a relatively quiet week and I smiled when the thought of “the calm before the storm” comes to mind, as I know that as we move into that final stretch it will pick up.

On Thursday they will elevate me to the next phase. Since my death warrant was signed on November 30, I’ve been on “phase II” but per protocol once I reach that last seven days prior to execution; things change. Right now I’m allowed to keep all my property in my cell and it’s not much different that regular death row confinement beyond the fact that the death watch cell is significantly larger.

Once I graduate to the next phase (phase I) they will remove all my property from my cell and post an officer just outside my cell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He will have a forest green “death watch log” and record my every movement. This is similar to “suicide watch” and its sole purpose is to make sure that the condemned prisoner doesn’t deprive the state out of its intended execution by committing suicide. Once I graduate to the next stage even my lawyers will no longer be allowed regular visits in the death watch interview room, but will only be allowed to see me in the non-contact visitation area through glass. This ensures that even the lawyers cannot pass anything to the condemned prisoner.

It’s all about the methodical process designed to force the condemned to become a willing participant in his or her murder. I know from their perspective, this process is meticulously tuned to ensure that the intended execution goes by the book without unexpected interruption

But more so than anything else, what bothers me the most about this whole process is just how incredibly cold and calculated it is, as if those responsible have completely forgotten that they are taking a human life. It really is nothing less than the “machinery of death.” And I really do have to wonder just how much of their own humanity those responsible for carrying out this act of taking a human life must abandon as nothing about this process is “normal.”

Maybe that’s exactly the point… maybe they need this process themselves so that they can detach from the reality that they are killing a fellow human being. Maybe by becoming so fixated on each minute detail, it provides them that luxury of pushing aside the reality that they are killing another person.

                                                     

I suppose if that’s true, then it helps that most of those who are assigned to assist in this execution ritual have done it many times. One officer recently told me that he’s been down here for at least the last 25 executions. At some point, it probably gets easier. At some point they probably don’t even lose any sleep over it… it’s just a job. And that’s kind of scary.

At least I accomplished one small thing this week. In January this year when they killed Oscar Bolin as I was forced to remain in my death watch cell only feet away, I found out that they would not allow communion on the day of execution. Most Americans claim to be Christian and would find it offensive that a condemned prisoner would be denied communion when having his last spiritual visit.

When I realized that this was the case, I asked several people responsible for this process why they would not allow the condemned prisoner to take communion ~ which is unquestionably one of the fundamental tenets of any Christian faith. And other than allowing communion interfered with their last day protocol, nobody could give me an answer as to why. Apparently, nobody had ever questioned this before.
Unable to get any explanation at institutional level, I then brought this to the attention of my lawyers. Just by coincidence, my top lawyer Neil Dupree ( head of CCRC) was in Tallahassee to participate in budget conferences and in the same room as the FDOC Secretary Julie Jones.

As I understand it, Mr. Dupree took a moment to talk to Julie Jones and simply asked her why it was that condemned prisoners were not allowed to receive communion on execution day and apparently Ms. jones did not even know that this was not allowed and assured Mr. Dupree that she would look into it immediately.
Early the next morning the prisons Assistant Warden came down to death watch and discussed this issue with me, in a polite and respectful manner. Just that easily, the issue was resolved ~ I would be allowed to receive communion from the Catholic priest on the day of my scheduled execution. But I wonder whether those who face execution in the future will think to inquire as apparently I was the first to simply ask.

This past week I was kept busy by the lawyers as the various appeals were submitted to the courts. Since the Hurst v Florida decision was handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court on January 12 declaring Florida’s death penalty statute unconstitutional, many of the top lawyers have joined my legal team as now my own case will decide whether that court decision applies to everyone on death row, or maybe to no one  at all. Oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court will be interesting. (If you missed these oral arguments you can pull them up at any time at http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/viewcase.php?eid=2314)
With all the attention of this Hurst v Florida issue, I’m increasingly worried that the lawyers are not pursuing my numerous other issues as aggressively. For one thing, I just don’t have any confidence that the Florida Supreme Court will rule favorably on this Hurst case. Of the seven justices on that court, most are former death penalty prosecutors themselves (they each are politically hand picked, so that’s not just a coincidence) and not even one of them opposes the death penalty. And this court has already sent at least 30 men to their execution since 2002 when the US Supreme Court first ruled this process was wrong. I just don’t see that court suddenly willing to do the right thing. What’s important to me is my long and consistently pled claim of innocence and that it continues to be argued before the Florida Supreme Court and in the Federal Courts. But with this attention on this Hurst issue, my claims that argue my innocence are being neglected and I’m not happy about that ~ and there’s not a damned thing I can do about that either.

Some time this next week the lawyers will file my appeal on the innocence claims in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. I also expect nothing from that court as my case was assigned to the three most extremely pro death penalty judges (Carnes, Hull, and Tjoulat), so the most I can hope for is that once those judges rubber stamp that federal denied (as they do all death row appeals) then we can try to get the US Supreme Court to grant review.

But the clock continues to count down and each day I’m that much closer to my death. It’s still a matter of days, but soon it will be a matter of hours.

Note: Michael Lambrix was granted an indefinite stay of execution on February 2, 2016.He has now been moved to a regular death row cell at Florida State Prison, while still being under warrant.
Anyone wanting to send a card or letter to Mike, please write to:
Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison G1204
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford Florida 32026-1100

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Michael Lambrix was supposed to die today..


Florida - State of the Death Penalty -  written by Adam Tebrugge, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Florida

https://aclufl.org/2016/02/11/florida-state-of-the-death-penalty/


                                                                     


Michael Lambrix was supposed to die today.

Three months ago his death warrant was signed by Governor Rick Scott. Michael was moved to a special “Death Watch” cell, steps from the execution chamber. He was fitted for his burial suit and was visiting with his friends and family for what he assumed would be the final time.

However, thanks to the recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court that Florida’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional, Michael was allowed to challenge his sentence. Attorney Brian Stull of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project was among those who filed a brief on behalf of Michael. Last week the Florida Supreme Court agreed to a stay of execution while they sort out the question of which death row inmates might be entitled to a new sentence.

While the courts are doing their work, I am continuing to ask the Governor and Cabinet to grant Michael a clemency hearing. Historically, clemency has always been the last safeguard of our criminal justice system, particularly in death penalty cases. As we know all too well, the courts don’t always get it right. Lawyers and judges make mistakes, all the evidence isn’t heard, and injustice results. That’s why the Governor and Clemency Board have the power to commute a death sentence to one of life imprisonment.
In Florida, however, our Governor’s office has turned the clemency process into a sham, despite Florida having the most unreliable death penalty system in the country. The last Governor to grant clemency was Bob Graham, and that was more than thirty years ago. Governor Scott is now executing inmates at a record pace without apparently considering whether they might be worthy of clemency. The case for clemency is particularly strong for Michael Lambrix.

Michael’s case started in 1984 when a woman named Francis Smith was found driving the car of a man who had been reported missing. Francis led law enforcement to a rural area in Glades County where the bodies of a man and a woman were discovered. Francis claimed that Michael Lambrix had killed both people. She cut a deal with prosecutors to test facing any charges herself. However, prosecutors never disclosed this deal to the Court or to Michael’s attorneys.

Michael’s attorneys were handling their first death penalty case. They wouldn’t let him testify at his trial and threatened to withdraw if he did. The first jury to hear this case could not reach a decision. The second jury found Michael guilty and recommended the death penalty on a less than unanimous vote. Only later did it come out that a key witness had lied after being pressured. Only later did it come out that Francis Smith was having a sexual relationship with the lead State Attorney investigator in the case. Only later was DNA technology developed that could show that Michael was not the killer. Unfortunately for Michael, the courts have ruled that it is too late for any of this evidence to be considered.

After spending the past 31 years on death row, in solitary confinement, you wouldn’t be surprised if Michael had been driven insane or to despair but that’s not the case. Michael has spent his time on self-reflection and improvement. After focusing on his own education during his first years in confinement, Michael began reaching out to people around the world. I have heard from people from Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and more. Everyone wanted me to know what a positive impact Mike has had upon their lives. From solitary confinement on Florida’s death row, Mike’s letters and essays have been published in anthologies and shared with people around the world.

At a minimum, Michael Lambrix deserves a hearing before the Clemency Board where these facts could be presented. His case represents a failure of the court system and of the clemency process.  Here is what I would ask you to do. Please contact the members of the Florida Clemency Board and deliver this message:
“Please grant a clemency hearing for Michael Lambrix, whose sentence was just stayed by the Florida Supreme Court. At a time when our state’s death sentences are under serious scrutiny, the evidence in this case is especially questionable.  Michael has spent the past 30 years and done everything possible to improve himself and to help others. Our death penalty system is in crisis, and Floridians deserve to know that their leaders are working to ensure that our justice system is in fact just. You have an opportunity to review the facts of this case as a member of the Clemency Board  Please grant him a clemency hearing, so his case can be reviewed, and you don’t end up executing a potentially innocent man.”
You can write any of the folks below at The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050, or better yet, call them today.

Governor Rick Scott:  850-488-7146 - Email:  rick.scott@myflorida.com
Office of Governor Rick Scott State of Florida The Capitol 400 S. Monroe St. Tallahassee, FL 32399-000 
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi: 850-414-3300
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater: 850-413-2820
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam 850-245-1000

Monday, February 8, 2016

Letter from Death Watch (part 7)

When the Governor first signed my death warrant on November 30, 2015 scheduling my execution for February 11, 2016, I had 73 days until they planned to kill me. As I write this , I’m now down to 18 days. To keep us occupied ~ if we were to go nuts awaiting our execution then they couldn’t kill us as the Supreme Court has said that violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition to execute a prisoner that has become “mentally incompetent” ~ they have installed a 40 inch flat screen television on the wall in front of cell one, which I watch regularly.

Funny thing though, as the days passed I have noticed that there are previews for more shows that I would really like to watch, but they won’t come on until after my scheduled execution and I find myself saying that it sucks as now I’m going to miss that show. For example, many years ago I faithfully watched every episode of the science fiction series “X-Files,” but then the series ended with a lot of unanswered questions.

Recently the Fox Network brought it back for a six show mini series to answer some of those questions we all waited so long to be resolved. And I was anxiously awaiting its return. However, it doesn’t begin until Sunday January 24th and then run for the next five consecutive weeks. But I only have less than 3 weeks to live so it created a dilemma ~ do I watch what I can and hope that my execution is put on hold until I’ve watched all 6 episodes, or do I just blow it off for now as I wouldn’t want to go to my grave left hanging to see how it all ends. 

More and more I’m confronting these dilemmas ~ finding myself making choices based on when my execution is scheduled. The other day I noticed that my toothpaste was getting low and normally, I would just buy another tube without a second thought. But instead I found myself contemplating whether what I had left might be stretched to last until February 11th as I didn’t want to waste the money buying a new tube, then be put to death and leave it wasted.

These are just a few of the examples of how even the smallest things that most wouldn’t give a second thought to will creep into mind and then I will find myself putting way too much thought into how that particular thing or event impacts my scheduled date with death.

                                                                    


Maybe that’s part of this deliberate process ~ to compel those awaiting their appointed date with death to be reminded that they intend to kill you every moment of every day until they do. Perhaps that “process” itself helps facilitate passivity in the condemned by instilling a sense of becoming part of that countdown, so that when the time does come, we will feel almost obligated to cooperate.
A few days ago the death watch supervisor came down and laid a brand new suit on the desk out in front of my cell. He has been assigned to this post for years and personally dealt with at least the last 30 executions ~ probably many more. In this environment, that wall of separation between prisoner and guard somewhat relaxes and there’s significantly more personal interaction if for no other reason but there’s no one else to talk to.

This supervisor (whom I’m deliberately not naming) exhibits a level of professionalism you very rarely see in the prison system. He deals with us in a fair and respectful manner, and takes good care of us. When our family and friends come for a visit, he will do what he can to make it easier on them. Often even introducing himself to our visitor and giving them his phone number in case they need to call if problems arise. When my mentally challenged daughter came to visit, he escorted her to the parking lot to make sure she got there alright. He is a model of professionalism balanced with that measure empathy towards those he interacts with that you just don’t expect from prison employees.
But when he brought that suit down, it made me realize just how much this job has taken from him. Most of us give no thought to how all this affects those who work here and interact with the condemned. They will spend months down here on death watch with us, knowing just as well as we do that with each day that passes we take one step closer to that date of our appointed death. How could all this not affect them too.

Yet he laid the bag containing the suit down on that desk and as if it was nothing more than getting a cup of water. He pulled the brand new suit from the bag and casually told me I needed to try it on to make sure it fits. I watched as he first took the white shirt from its plastic bag (George for men, size XL, short sleeves ~ long sleeves would obstruct their ability to insert the needles into my arms ~ with a neck of 18 inches). He unfolded the shirt, removing the store tags, then shook it out and passed it through the cell bars so that I could try it on.

As I obediently put this shirt on, he focused his attention on removing the suit from its protective bag. I noticed it was bought at the local JCPenney store. The tag said it was Stafford brand, made in Mexico, with a suggested retail price of $200. I commented about that ~ the prison would only allow a “last meal” limited to $40 , but they didn’t mind spending that much for a custom fitted suit to execute me in.

He passed the pants first and then the jacket through the bars and I put each on. They fit well. I even commented about how good I looked in the dark blue, almost black suit with the subtle charcoal pinstripes. And then I removed it and handed it back and it was returned to its protective bag and places in the closet where it would wait until it was time for me to put it on again ~ only the next time I put it on, they would kill me in it.

This whole process of trying on the suit they bought just to execute me in seemed so mundane; so normal. As if we went through this everyday. And I found myself wondering, how many times has he gone through this routine before and at what point did he reach that point in which having the condemned prisoner try on his execution suit become so routine?

On the legal front, the lawyers continue preparing and filing appeals based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst v Florida. When that case first came out on February 12th I was somewhat skeptical, as I knew that it’s hard to convince the courts to retroactively apply new case law to older cases. (See, my essay “ Death by Default” posted January 28th at www.minutesbeforesix.com). However, after reading what the lawyers have filed I must admit that they make a very convincing argument as to why Hurst v Florida dictates that my death sentences be vacated and my execution stopped. Many other organizations are also submitting “Amicus” briefs in support, which is almost unheard of. Bottom line, there’s a good chance we can win this, but it will be close. The Florida Supreme Court will hold “oral arguments” on my case on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 which can be watched online at www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/
 
My Federal appeal arguing actual innocence also continues to be pursued in the Federal Courts. Anyone who wants to read the appeals that have been and will be filed can do so at www.southerninjustice.net. Hopefully, either the state or federal court will grant a stay of execution soon.

(Note: Indefinite stay of execution was granted on February 2, 2016)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Execution stayed for Michael Lambrix!

The Florida Supreme Court has issued an indefinite Stay of execution for Michael Lambrix. Mike was to be executed on Thursday, February 11. The order came hours after the court heard oral arguments that focused on the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month that struck down the state’s death-penalty sentencing system. Read more here:  http://www.wuft.org/news/2016/02/02/supreme-courts-ruling-could-halt-feb-11-execution-in-florida/ 
and here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article57817378.html

Read the order for the stay here
 
The Florida High Court did not rule on the impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hurst v. Florida that found Florida’s death penalty sentencing unconstitutional.

                                            

Monday, February 1, 2016

Letter from Death Watch (part 6)

Time flies quickly when you’re counting down what is expected to be the last days of your life. When Florida governor Rick Scott signed my death warrant on November 30th, scheduling my execution for February 11, 2016 I had 73 days of life guaranteed ~ but as I awoke this morning, I realized I’m now down to only 25 days. I smiled as I remembered  song on my mp3 player by country music legend Johnny Cash called “25 Minutes to Go” ~ it starts with the words, “They’re building a gallows outside my cell and I’ve got 25 minutes to go,” then in his southern accent continues, “and the whole town’s waiting just to hear me yell ~ I’ve got 25 minutes to go.”


There’s a lot of truth to those words. Although I’m blessed by the support of many from almost every corner of the world, I’m constantly reminded that the reason I’m counting down these final days until my appointed moment of death is because there are just as many pushing just as hard to see me dead. Few even think about the amount of resources that the state of Florida, on behalf of the taxpayers, are investing in this process with one singular objective… to see me dead. And at times it does feel like the “whole town is waiting to hear me yell.”


I find myself thinking about the bigger picture a lot lately ~ although I am comfortable in my own sense of spirituality and I am convinced that my eternal soul (consciousness) will continue far beyond this so-called life, I guess when it comes down to it, nobody really knows.


It bothers me that so many people are all but consumed with the need to inflict death upon me under the pretense of administering justice as by their own choices, they inflict scars upon their own souls. It seems to create a spiritual paradox that I struggle to reconcile with ~ by methodically seeking my death at a specific appointed time and by a specifically appointed manner, I’m given that rare luxury of that opportunity to seek forgiveness and make spiritual peace, while those most affected by the crime are not.


It’s only too easy to get fixated on our own perspective and not even consider another’s. But I do wonder about those who are so deliberately pursuing my death. Each of us, without exception, are inherently imperfect creatures and in our own way we each struggle through this journey we call life. Most of us try to do the right thing ~ just as I tried to do the right thing the night when all this happened. But our perspective of what is right and what is wrong, is too often clouded by more primitive responses, such as the need to seek vengeance, only under the pretense of administering justice. But if the sanctity of life is to mean anything at all, then what could be a more deliberate act of murder then putting an innocent man to death through a state sanctioned execution.


Maybe it’s just me, but I worry about those responsible for pursuing my death. As they gather around the gallows just to hear me scream, do they even for a moment think about their own spiritual accountability? I recall the words Jesus spoke from the cross as they executed the Son of God ~ “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

                                                       


This past week was a pretty good week, all things considered. Beginning on Monday and through Wednesday I was able to receive visits with my youngest son Cary Michael. On Tuesday my parents joined him for the visit, and on Wednesday my sisters Debbie and Mary came. For three days I was able to escape the reality of my pending execution and bask in the warmth of their love. We talked and we laughed ~ and we cried. It pained me greatly to see what all of this is putting them through. And I wonder whether those so determined to pursue my death spend even a moment thinking about the pain they are inflicting on so many others. As a society we have a very constrained definition of “victims,” as my own family and friends suffer just as equally and by any objective definition of the word “victim,” they are victims too.


On Tuesday January 12th the United States Supreme Court issued its long anticipated ruling in Hurst v. Florida. By an 8 to 1 majority they declared that Florida’s death penalty is unconstitutional, as under the Sixth Amendment a jury must make the findings necessary to impose death, not a judge. What this means is that every person sentenced to death in Florida ~ including the 80 men and women already executed since 1974 ~ were illegally sentenced.


But it’s not that simple. Through the years the “politics of death” have compelled the courts to judicially create procedural rules that strongly discourage retroactive application of new rulings. Under the pretense of promoting “finality,” new court decisions generally will not be applied to older cases that were already upheld on the first round of appeals.


Suddenly my own case has been catapulted to the front lines in the fight over the death penalty itself. Because I am the next person scheduled for execution following the Supreme Court decision, the disposition of my own case will now decide the fate of all those sentenced to death in Florida ~ and very well may decide whether the death penalty in America survives.

Quite simply, if I win and my February 11th execution is called off, then all 390 other death sentenced prisoners in Florida will rely on that victory to vacate their own death sentences. If I lose, then Governor Scott and the State of Florida will continue to aggressively pursue executions.
Those interested in following this issue can easily read all the appeal briefs filed, which will be available at my website www.southerninjustice.net.  Already the top death penalty lawyers have joined forces to fight this issue. Anyone can also watch the “oral arguments” before the Florida Supreme Court at 9:00 a.m. on February 2, 2016 both live and taped at www.gavel2gavel.org. Additionally, all legal filings are available on the Florida Supreme Court website by pulling up Cary Michael Lambrix v, State of Florida, case no. SC16-08.


In truth, I’m not happy about my case becoming the test case on this Hurst v. Florida issue. For 32 years I’ve fought to prove that I am innocent of this wholly circumstantial (i.e., no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, no confessions) theory of alleged premeditated murder. But now my consistently pled claim of innocence will be effectively reduced to nothing more than a footnote as all the attention focuses solely on this Hurst case. And the reality is that the odds are against me convincing either State or Federal Courts that Hurst must apply retroactively. As I’ve said before, it's a runaway train and I’m just along for the ride.


My imminent execution will generate widespread media attention in light of the Hurst decision ~ I can only hope that the media that follows this story will take a moment to actually read the history of my case and how the state's own evidence actually substantiates my innocence.