The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected appeals by 25 men on Death Row who claimed that their lawyers were ineffective in investigating their backgrounds before sentencing, reports the Miami Herald. The rulings were no surprise in the legal community after justices in December issued an opinion rejecting an appeal by a Pinellas County triple murderer who sought to have his death penalty sentence tossed out for the same reason.
Combined, the Miami-Dade men have spent 131 years on Death Row awaiting execution. In Florida, juries in death penalty cases preside over a guilt phase and a separate penalty phase, in which lawyers present evidence about their client's past and argue why the defendant should not be executed. The men had appealed their convictions after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 tossed out the death sentence for George Porter, 80, who was sentenced to execution for the 1986 fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. The court ruled that Porter's defense attorney should have investigated his background to prove “mitigating evidence” why the man should be spared.