By Greg Jackson
When the Orange-Osceola County State Attorney, Aramis Ayala, ran for a public office sworn to protect the interest of victims and families of violent crimes to include intentional killings, she should have made a gut-check to be certain that she was qualified enough, or at least caring enough, to serve the residents within the jurisdictions of her office who wanted death penalty to be considered when warranted. Well it seems that Ayala, after making the ridiculous statement that she would not seek the death penalty in any case, which prompted the Governor to step in and remove cases from her office, has made yet another misguided step in the wrong direction and shown that she could not care less about the families of victims of violent crimes in the Orange and Osceola regions she was elected to serve. The fact that Ayala embarrassed her office and wasted taxpayers’ dollars by hiring $1,000.00 per hour lawyers to represent her failed attempt to unilaterally ban death penalty cases in the Ninth Judicial District should have been a clear sign that something was wrong. The fact that Ayala thought her prosecutorial discretion could not be questioned or challenged by the Governor was pitiful.
The fact that Ayala convened a hodge-podge cast of characters to pose as a Death Penalty Review Panel after a crushing defeat in a 5-2 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in favor of Governor Scott’s authority to remove cases from Ayala’s office, should not have given anyone a false sense of hope that she had come to her senses. The fact that Ayala has been quiet as a church mouse on issues of importance to Orange and Osceola County residents should not have lulled any of us into a false sense of security.
Unfortunately, a clear indication of Ayala’s uncaring or unqualified stance against families of persons murdered in the Ninth Judicial Circuit reared its ugly head again today when Ayala’s office — death penalty panel and all — inadvertently or purposefully, missed the deadline to file a petition for death penalty, where a murder was committed, by 22 days! You heard me correctly, the Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney missed a critical deadline by nearly a month, and in effect thwarted a family’s ability to seek all avenues of justice, to include the death penalty where it was clearly applicable.
When I first spoke out against Ayala for her defiance against the authority of the Governor, folks thought I was being too hard on Ayala. When I told folks that the Florida Supreme Court would rule against Ayala and her $1,000.00 an hour lawyer, folks doubted me then also; but, in both instances I was right. So now, when I tell you that Ayala has neither the compassion or qualifications to do the job of State Attorney, I hope you understand that I say this not because I dislike Ms. Ayala, but because I promote justice. Victims and victims’ families deserve a State Attorney who will seek justice for them, just as much as she seeks justice for those who commit heinous crimes against humanity. This last show of defiance by Ayala against the Florida Statutes, Florida’s Governor, Florida’s Supreme Court and Florida families seeking justice for their murdered family members, is a clear sign that Aramis Ayala is uncaring and unqualified to serve as the State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.