Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Miami-Dade PD’s office may decline new clients because of case overload Florida Supreme Court says

Posted originally by L. Jay Jackson, Oct. 1, 2013 in ABA Journal Law News

"In May the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the office in Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida v. State of Florida, allowing PDs to refuse new cases if their workload precludes them from providing defendants with adequate representation.
“We are struck by the breadth and depth of the evidence of how the excessive caseload has impacted the public defender’s representation of indigent defendants,” the court said, overturning an appellate decision. The supreme court pointed to evidence showing that attorneys were routinely and systematically “unable to interview clients, conduct investigations, take depositions, prepare mitigation or counsel clients about pleas offered at arraignment.”
The case has been remanded to the trial court to determine whether the office remains deluged and is entitled to the relief originally sought.
. . . .The Miami case may have opened a door for more public defender challenges nationwide. Experts are calling the decision the most significant reaffirmation of a defendant’s right to counsel since the U.S. Supreme Court extended the Sixth Amendment guarantee to state felony cases in 1963’s Gideon v. Wainwright.”

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