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Case Name In re Reassignment and Consolidation of Public Defender’s Motions to Appoint Other Counsel in Unappointed Noncapital Felony Cases PD-FL-0005
Docket / Court docket unknown ( State Court )
Additional Docket(s) SC09-1181    Supreme Court (FL)
3D08-2272    Appellate Court (FL)
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
In July 2008, Judge Stanford Blake in the Circuit Court of Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit held a hearing on the motion of the Dade County Public Defender, who asked that his lawyers be excused from appointments in all felony cases, except capital cases, in Miami’s 21 felony courtrooms. The ... read more >
In July 2008, Judge Stanford Blake in the Circuit Court of Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit held a hearing on the motion of the Dade County Public Defender, who asked that his lawyers be excused from appointments in all felony cases, except capital cases, in Miami’s 21 felony courtrooms. The public defender argued that underfunding of his office had led to excessive caseloads, and that his lawyers could not ethically or legally accept additional non-capital felonies. On September 3, 2008, the trial court judge ruled substantially in favor of the public defender’s position, declaring that the public defender would be excused from having to accept appointments to all class C felonies, though appointments to class A and B felonies would continue. The court reasoned that excessive caseloads interfered with public defenders' ability to comply with the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct and their constitutional obligations. The court ordered the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the Third District to represent the affected indigent defendants.

The State appealed. In May 2009, the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida reversed the trial court and quashed Judge Blake's order. The District Court of Appeal held that the public defender was required to prove prejudice or conflict, separate from excessive caseload, on an individual basis to be relieved of duty to represent indigent defendants.

The Florida Supreme Court accepted review and consolidated this case with State v. Bowens, 39 So.3d 479 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010), where the Public Defender had challenged the constitutionality of a Florida statute excluding excessive caseload as a ground for attorney withdrawal. The Florida Supreme Court quashed the Third District Court of Appeal's decision. The court held that the Public Defender had demonstrated cause for withdrawal due to excessive caseloads. The court remanded the case for the trial court to determine if the circumstances still warranted granting the Public Defender's motion to decline appointments in future third-degree felony cases under the standards approved in its decision.

Elena Malik - 03/10/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) State of Florida
Plaintiff Description Public Defender for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 2008
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
Date: 2011
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis Faculty)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Date: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
Date: 2009
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University Faculty)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Date: May 7, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
3D08-2272 (State Court of Appeals)
PD-FL-0005-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2013
Source: State Court Website
SC09-1181 (State Supreme Court)
PD-FL-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2013
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Opinion (12 So.3d 798)
PD-FL-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/13/2009
Source: Westlaw
Initial Brief on the Merits [ECF# 39]
PD-FL-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 39] (115 So.3d 261)
PD-FL-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cortinas, Angel A Court not on record show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0003
Quince, Peggy A. (State Appellate Court, State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0002
Salter, Vance E Court not on record show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0003
Shepherd, Frank A Court not on record show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lovells, Hogan (Florida) show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0001
Nevins, Julie E (Florida) show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0001
Thomson, Parker D. (Florida) show/hide docs
PD-FL-0005-0001

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