Florida’s highest court today hears a case that may determine the fate of 390 people on death row, NPR reports. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida’s system for imposing the death penalty unconstitutional. Florida has an execution set for next week. The state court must decide whether it can go forward. The case involves Cary Michael Lambrix, who killed Clarence Moore Jr. and Aleisha Bryant in 1983 after inviting them back to his trailer for dinner in a rural part of central Florida. By a 10-2 vote in one murder and an 8-4 vote in the other, a jury recommended that Lambrix receive the death penalty. The judge imposed the sentence.
The key question the justices will have to decide is whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision should be applied retroactively to Lambrix and to the other 389 people currently on Florida’s death row. All of those sentences were imposed in a way that’s now deemed unconstitutional. In 1972, after the U.S. Supreme Court found the death penalty unconstitutional nationwide, there was a moratorium on executions whiles states rewrote their laws on capital punishment. The state of Florida believes the Hurst decision should not be applied retroactively. Prosecutors with the attorney general’s office argue that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling builds on an earlier decision, Ring v. Arizona, which was not applied retroactively.