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Legal Battle To Move Quickly As Execution Looms

Florida Department of Corrections
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

With Gov. Rick Scott setting an Aug. 24 execution date for Death Row inmate Mark James Asay, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday directed that all legal proceedings in the case should be “expedited.”

Scott on Monday scheduled the execution of Asay, who was convicted in 1988 of the murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in downtown Jacksonville. The execution would be the first in Florida since a January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the state's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional. That ruling touched off a series of other court rulings and legislative actions, effectively putting the death penalty on hold.

Asay's lawyers are likely to make a series of legal attempts to prevent the execution. In a document issued Friday, the Supreme Court set a timeline that included a July 28 deadline for finishing circuit-court proceedings and deadlines of Aug. 2, Aug. 3 and Aug. 7 for filing briefs at the Supreme Court.

The document said oral arguments at the Supreme Court would be scheduled later, if necessary.