UPDATE: Siding with lawyers for the condemned killer, the Florida Supreme Court extended the deadlines for appeals and other briefs for a week, due to Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Irma has prompted lawyers for Cary Michael Lambrix to ask the Florida Supreme Court to postpone filing deadlines for appeals, imposed after Gov. Rick Scott set an Oct. 4 execution date for the convicted killer.
Lambrix, who’s spent more than 33 years on Florida’s Death Row, was slated to die by lethal injection last year, but the court put his execution hold after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, overturned the state’s death penalty sentencing system.
In a motion filed this morning with the state Supreme Court, Lambrix’s lawyer Marty McClain requested an extension of next week’s deadlines. The court established the schedule Friday, after Scott signed a new death warrant for Lambrix.
McClain and his colleagues, who are located in Broward County, are preparing for Hurricane Irma and may have to evacuate, the lawyers wrote.
In his motion, McClain quoted Gov. Rick Scott, who on Thursday called Irma “an incredibly dangerous storm,” and warned that “I think right now, everybody has to assume you’re going to get impacted.”
Lambrix’s entire litigation team is in the path of the “potentially catastrophic storm” and has to put aside work on his case while preparing for the hurricane, according to McClain.
“We have families, we have homes, and we have to prepare as Governor Scott directed,” he wrote.
As of Friday morning, projections showed Irma “scraping the coast of Florida” which could bring a “huge storm surge” and “massive flooding” to Broward, McClain pointed out.
“This is as scary as it gets for those who are supposed to be focused on representing Mr. Lambrix pursuant to this court’s scheduling order,” he wrote.
“Quite frankly in these circumstances, Mr. Lambrix is without representation because those assigned to his case have simply had to turn their attention to saving their families, themselves and their property as best they can,” McClain argued.
But, Irma or no Irma, the state isn’t willing to give McClain and his team more time.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Scott Browne urged the Florida Supreme Court — which ordered all courts to be closed on Friday, due to the hurricane — to turn down the request.
The state’s lawyers “are sympathetic to the plight of Lambrix’s attorneys and anyone else in the potential path of Hurricane Irma,” Browne wrote.
But, he added, “The hurricane has not yet had any impact upon Florida’s weather and its impact may be days away.”
Browne noted that Lambrix’s legal team can “phone into” case management conference and file pleadings electronically, and that it’s “unlikely” the defense lawyers will have to travel to make any court appearances next week.
Lambrix was convicted of the 1983 murders of Aleisha Bryant and Clarence Moore in Glades County. According to court documents, Lambrix met the couple at a LaBelle bar and invited them to his mobile home for a spaghetti dinner.
Lambrix went outside with Bryant and Moore individually, then returned to finish the dinner with his girlfriend. Bryant’s and Moore’s bodies were found buried near Lambrix’s trailer.
Lambrix was originally scheduled to be executed in 1988, but the Florida Supreme Court issued a stay of that execution. A federal judge lifted the stay in 1992.
We’ll update if the court issues a ruling regarding the scheduling order.