US

Florida's high court takes puzzling turn on death penalty

Possibly showing its hand on the future of capital punishment in Florida, the state Supreme Court by a 5-2 vote on Wednesday forbid the state from imposing the death penalty in pending prosecutions, only to withdraw the order hours later as "prematurely issued."

The highly unusual move was made necessary by an "internal error," according to a statement issued by court spokesman Craig Waters.

But it leaves prosecutors in a troubling limbo, signaling that they may be taking a risk if they pursue the death penalty in murder cases at this time. One prosecutor said the Florida Legislature needs to act quickly to craft a death penalty law that passes constitutional scrutiny.