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"As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule." - Albert Einstein

Legislature Unconstitutionally Pushed Costs onto Counties

Posted: July 20, 2009 Filed under: Uncategorized

A three-judge panel of Florida’s First District Court of appeal unanimously concluded last Friday that the Florida Legislature unconstitutionally pushed the cost of funding regional conflict counsel offices on county governments.

The legislature created the regional offices in 2007 in an effort to curb the cost of court-appointed counsel for indigent criminal defendants and poverty-stricken parents accused of abusing or neglecting their children. The legislature created five offices, one for each of the state’s five appellate districts, but each office maintains satellite offices in multiple counties. The legislature required counties to pay for the offices, but several counties balked and filed suit. A trial judge ruled in favor of the counties, and the district court of appeal affirmed that decision.

The legislature will now have to determine how the State will absorb the additional costs in a future legislative session. Capping the compensation other court-appointed attorneys receive may not be an alternative cost-saving measure, as those rates are already so low that many contend the rates are unconstitutional.

Read the district court of appeal’s opinion HERE.

Admitted: Florida, Kansas, New Mexico (inactive)