CHAPTER 27 - COURT-APPOINTED COUNSEL, COMPENSATION, AND MORE...

Chapter 27, Part III of the Florida Statutes addresses topics relating to public defenders and other court-appointed counsel.

Appointments

Section 27.40 of this chapter lays out the procedures for appointing counsel to represent any person in a criminal or civil proceeding entitled to court-appointed counsel.  The hierarchy of appointed counsel is as follows: Public Defender, Office of Criminal Conflict/Civil Regional Counsel, Private Counsel.  Thus, if the Public Defender is unable to provide representation, the next in line for appointment is the Office of Criminal Conflict/Civil Regional Counsel.  If the Office of Criminal Conflict/Civil Regional Counsel is unable to provide representation, the next (and last in line) is appointment of Private Counsel who is on that circuit's registry of private attorneys who are willing to take on court appointments.  Private attorneys voluntarily put themselves on the appointment registry, and are appointed in rotating order in the order in which their names appear on the applicable registry.

Section 27.405 establishes the Justice Administrative Commission (JAC) as the agency repsonsible for overseeing the cost and performance of private court-appointed counsel for each of the categories of criminal or civil cases in which private counsel may be appointed.  This section requires the JAC to prepare and distribute quarterly reports comparing the actual year-to-date expenditures with budget allocations for payment of private court-appointed counsel.  Per this section, the JAC is also required to prepare and distribute annual reports comparing performance measures for each of the judicial circuits.

Compensation

Section 27.525 establishes the Indigent Criminal Defense Trust Fund to be used for the funding of indigent criminal defense by the public defender or Office of Criminal Conflict/Civil Regional Counsel.

Section 27.5301 establishes that the Florida General Appropriations Act shall dictate the salaries of the Public Defender, Assistant Public Defenders, and Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel.

Section 27.5304 establishes that private court-appointed counsel shall be compensated by the JAC as provided in Chapter 27 of the Florida Statutes and the Florida General Appropriations Act.