Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Florida drug laws ruled unconstitutional

Today Judge Mary Scriven from the Middle District granted a writ of habeas corpus and declared Florida’s drug law unconstitutional. The case is Shelton v. Dept. of Corrections. NACDL filed this amicus brief . Here's the intro to the order:

On May 13, 2002, the Florida Legislature enacted changes to Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control law, FLA. STAT. § 893.13, as amended by FLA. STAT. § 893.101. By this enactment, Florida became the only state in the nation expressly to eliminate mens rea as an element of a drug offense. This case, challenging the constitutionality of that law, was filed following Plaintiff’s conviction for delivery of cocaine without the jury being required to consider his intent in any respect and the subsequent imposition of an eighteen year sentence following his conviction. Upon consideration of all relevant filings, case law, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court GRANTS Petitioner’s request for habeas relief (Dkt. 1), and finds that FLA. STAT. § 893.13 is unconstitutional on its face.

Full disclosure: I was one of the co-signors of the amicus brief for NACDL, authored by Todd Foster.

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