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2004 Florida Statutes

Court-appointed counsel; circuit registries; minimum requirements; appointment by court.
Section 27.40, Florida Statutes 2004

27.40  Court-appointed counsel; circuit registries; minimum requirements; appointment by court.--

(1)  Counsel shall be appointed to represent any individual in a criminal or civil proceeding entitled to court-appointed counsel under the Federal or State Constitution or as authorized by general law. The court shall appoint a public defender to represent indigent persons as authorized in s. 27.51 Private counsel shall be appointed to represent indigents in those cases in which provision is made for court-appointed counsel but the public defender is unable to provide representation due to a conflict of interest or is not authorized to provide representation.

(2)  No later than October 1, 2004, private counsel appointed by the court to provide representation shall be selected from a registry established by the circuit Article V indigent services committee or procured through a competitive bidding process.

(3)  In utilizing a registry:

(a)  Each circuit Article V indigent services committee shall compile and maintain a list of attorneys in private practice, by county and by category of cases. To be included on a registry, attorneys shall certify that they meet any minimum requirements established in general law for court appointment, are available to represent indigent defendants in cases requiring court appointment of private counsel, and are willing to abide by the terms of the contract for services. Each attorney on the registry shall be responsible for notifying the circuit Article V indigent services committee of any change in his or her status. Failure to comply with this requirement shall be cause for removal from the registry until the requirement is fulfilled.

(b)  The court shall appoint attorneys in rotating order in the order in which names appear on the applicable registry, unless the court makes a finding of good cause on the record for appointing an attorney out of order. An attorney not appointed in the order in which his or her name appears on the list shall remain next in order.

(c)  If it finds the number of attorneys on the registry in a county or circuit for a particular category of cases is inadequate, the circuit Article V indigent services committee shall notify the chief judge of the particular circuit in writing. The chief judge shall submit the names of at least three private attorneys with relevant experience. The clerk of court shall send an application to each of these attorneys to register for appointment.

(d)  Quarterly, beginning no later than October 1, 2004, each circuit Article V indigent services committee shall provide the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the chief judge, the state attorney and public defender in each judicial circuit, and the clerk of court in each county with a current copy of each registry.

(4)  To be eligible for court appointment, an attorney must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar in addition to any other qualifications specified by general law.

(5)  The Justice Administrative Commission shall approve uniform contract forms for use in procuring the services of private court-appointed counsel.

(6)  After court appointment, the attorney must immediately file a notice of appearance with the court indicating acceptance of the appointment to represent the defendant.

(7)(a)  An attorney appointed to represent a defendant or other client is entitled to payment pursuant to s. 27.5304, only upon full performance by the attorney of specified duties, approval of payment by the court, and attorney submission of a payment request to the Justice Administrative Commission. If an attorney is permitted to withdraw or is otherwise removed from representation prior to full performance of the duties specified in this section for reasons other than breach of duty, the trial court shall approve payment of attorney's fees and costs for work performed in an amount not to exceed the amounts specified in s. 27.5304

(b)  The attorney shall maintain appropriate documentation, including a current and detailed hourly accounting of time spent representing the defendant or other client.

(8)  Subject to the attorney-client privilege and the work-product privilege, an attorney who withdraws or is removed from representation shall deliver all files, notes, documents, and research to the successor attorney within 15 days after receiving notice from the successor attorney. The successor attorney shall bear the cost of transmitting all files, notes, documents, and research.

(9)  A circuit Article V indigent services committee or any interested person may advise the court of any circumstance affecting the quality of representation, including, but not limited to, false or fraudulent billing, misconduct, failure to meet continuing legal education requirements, solicitation to receive compensation from the defendant or other client the attorney is appointed to represent, or failure to file appropriate motions in a timely manner.

(10)  This section does not apply to attorneys appointed to represent persons in postconviction capital collateral cases pursuant to part IV of this chapter.

History.--s. 13, ch. 2003-402; s. 6, ch. 2004-265.