Tough 200 Days For The New State Attorney
Aramis Ayala, the state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, is back in the news. She was recently pulled over by officers with the Orlando Police Department for unregistered plates and dark tint on her car windows. OPO wrote about the incident and revealed that Ayala was released without receiving a warning or a ticket as she was driving a vehicle registered to the state.
Due to the nature of the stop, some believe that Ayala was racially profiled.
This adds fuel to the narrative Ayala, who has been in the news since announcing she will not seek the death penalty while in office, is a lightning rod for controversy. Ayala and her attorney Roy Austin appeared before the Florida Supreme Court last month to contend that Florida Governor Rick Scott overstepped when he removed her from more than 20 death penalty cases.
As a result of her decision not to seek the death penalty, the Florida Legislature adjusted the office’s budget, which kept her name in the news and now the police stop. Ayala cannot seem to find a reprieve of her name in the media.
She’s also had a number of missteps. Recently an inmate housed at an Orange County Jail facility was killed after correctional officers used force against him. According to reports, officers removed William Howard from his cell, broke two vertebrae in his neck, and crumpled his spinal cord.
Two days after the incident, Howard went into cardiac arrest and later succumbed to his injuries. The Orange County medical examiner ruled the incident a homicide, and an internal investigation by the Orange County Jail found medical personnel on site to be negligent.
The state attorney’s office decided against prosecution as there was a determination that no crime was committed.
In addition to the decision on Howard, WKMG recently revealed that the state attorney’s office spent more than $300,000 of taxpayer funds on litigation support and attorney’s fees. Ayala’s office is being billed $285 an hour by Kivvit, a public relations firm based out of D.C., and taxpayers are paying for her battle with Florida Governor Rick Scott.
With all of what’s in play—her decision not to seek the death penalty, the lawsuit against the governor, the decision regarding Howard, the police stop, the controversial use of taxpayer dollars—it shows that Ayala has struggled to find her place politically.
For Ayala, there has to be an endgame that doesn’t result in another negative news story.
If she loses her case against the governor and the public missteps continue to pile, will the voters of the ninth judicial circuit continue to trust her? Time is our only mechanism of prediction, and if the past is any indicator, Ayala may be in for a long and rough ride.