Scott-Bondi: Ayala asked governor to reassign cases 6 times

Joint filing accuses Ayala of double standard

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A  joint filing by Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to the state Supreme Court Wednesday night argues State Attorney Aramis Ayala had already requested the governor to reassign cases from her office, with more than half going to State Attorney Brad King.

“Six times this year,” the brief reads,”one of Florida’s newly elected state attorneys asked the State’s chief administrative and executive officer to reassign cases from her office to a different state attorney.”

Ayala has openly challenged the governor’s decision to reassign 23 first-degree murder cases following a March 16 news conference where she announced her office would not seek the death penalty.

The brief, filed just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, argues Ayala filed the six reassignment requests to the governor without reservation.

“The requesting prosecutor did not voice any doubts about the legality of such transfers, nor did she say or imply that her status as 'the prosecuting officer' of her circuit means that she, and she alone, has the power to try cases arising in her jurisdiction… four of the prosecutor’s six requests have already been granted,“ the filing reads.

In an email to News 6, King writes, “I am not aware specifically of the wording of the request that she made to the Governor's office. I have received and accepted assignment in four cases, other than the capital cases.”

The four cases assigned to King included an aggravated assault case against accused double murderer Markeith Loyd. That charge stems from an August incident in which officials said Loyd threatened a woman with a gun.

Charges in that case were filed after Loyd's Jan. 17 arrest on murder charges in connection with the shooting deaths of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Sade Dixon, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Court documents confirm that Ayala requested Loyd's aggravated assault case be reassigned to King on April 20, weeks after Scott issued his executive orders removed Ayala from 23 first-degree murder cases.

Those cases, plus four of the six cases Ayala requested to have reassigned, were given to King. 

Ayala's attorney Roy Austin provided a statement to News 6, standing behind his client.

“Gov. Scott’s response shows that he continues to overstate his power under Florida law. As one example of his baseless arguments, he criticizes State Attorney Ayala after he specifically ordered her office to turn over all matters related to Markeith Loyd," Austin said. “What Gov. Scott has done is an illegal and unprecedented power grab that threatens the independence and integrity of Florida’s judicial system, and we look forward to responding to this filing by May 8.” 

Check back for more information on this developing story.

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