Before the court was an appeal of an order by a Miami-Dade Circuit Court that permitted the public defender’s office for Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit to decline representation in all future third-degree felony cases. That ruling resulted from the consolidation of multiple motions to withdraw based upon a conflict of interest due to underfunding that led to excessive caseloads.
The Third District held the state had standing to challenge the order because of its duty under § 27.01(1), Florida Statutes, to be a party to criminal cases. The appellate court then found that no number of cases could be divined as to how many constitute too many for an attorney to handle. The Third District also found that withdrawal should be determined on a case-by-case basis, not on the aggregate. Whether a conflict exists under Florida Bar Rules must be made on the same basis.
Finally, the Court of Appeal found that the legislature had altered the law when it implemented § 27.5303, Florida Statutes (2007). That statue provides, “In no case shall the court approve withdrawal by the public defender of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel based solely on inadequacy of funding or excess workload of the public defender or regional counsel.”
Consequently, the Third District reversed the circuit court’s order. See: The State of Florida and Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Third District Court of Appeal Region v. Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, 12 So.3d 798 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 2009).
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Related legal case
The State of Florida and Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Third District Court of Appeal Region v. Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit
|Cite||12 So.3d 798 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 2009)|
|Level||State Court of Appeals|