INDIGENT SERVICES COMMITTEE REPORT
On Wednesday, August 22, 2007, the 11th Circuit ISC met for the final time. As the result of SB 1088, the ISC as we know it will sunset on September 30th. At the meeting today, the JAC was present, by telephone, and General Counsel Stephen Presnell provided the ISC with several important facts which all CAC attorneys need to know.1. F.S. 27.5304 (4) provides that all CAC attorneys must submit their bills within 90 days of disposition of the case or they will be subject to a 15% penalty. The effective date of that clause was supposed to begin 90 days after the Governor signed SB 1088 into law. The bill was signed on May 24th and the 90th day was today.
Fortunately, the JAC has agreed to extend the deadline until this coming Monday, August 27, 2007. If you have a closed case that was closed on or before May 24, 2007, you must therefore have your bill submitted no later than Monday.
What does that mean? In Dade County, if your bill is a “short form” bill, it must be into the offices at JAC and stamped no later than Monday. If you have a “long form” bill, it must be date stamped by the AOC no later than Monday.
For our brethren “North of The Border”, and other Circuits that do not have a Fee Review Committee and submit all their bills directly to the JAC, you must have your bills into the offices at JAC and stamped no later than on Monday. Failure to do so will result in the JAC imposing a 15% penalty to your final bill.
2. Beginning on Tuesday, August 28, 2007, contrary to previous practice in Dade County, all original bills should be submitted directly to the JAC in Tallahassee. In the past, if you had a “long form” bill, you submitted the original to the Fee Review Committee. Now, you will submit copies to the FRC, with the original going to the JAC. Once again, the bill must arrive at the JAC within 90 days of disposition of the case, or you will be subject to a 15% penalty. All other jurisdictions will continue to submit their original bills directly to the JAC.
3. In all counties, please remember that you are still eligible for payment pursuant to the ISC rates established in your Circuit before July 1, 2007; (for cases where you were appointed before July 1, 2007). For any cases that you have accepted as of July 1, you are now subject to the new “flat fee” amounts established pursuant to SB 1088 and the language contained in the General Appropriations Act. Flat fee forms are available at the JAC website.
4. This next matter should be read very carefully. Prior to July 1, when a CAC attorney was appointed to multiple cases on the same defendant, the attorney was permitted to file only one bill and was required to combine all of their work time into that one bill. That procedure has changed!!! On all appointed cases as of July 1, 2007, you may now bill each case separately. Therefore, for example, if a defendant has four (4) second degree felonies, you are entitled to submit four flat fee bills, each for $1,000, and you will be paid a total of $4,000.
5. While our ISC will officially cease to exist as of October 1, it is the intention of Chief Judge Farina to continue with an ISC in some name and some form in the future. The make-up of that future committee is yet to be determined. Judge Farina is convinced that the model that has been in place in Miami Dade County has been extremely effective in helping to deliver quality legal services to the indigent defendants in our community for the past 15 years. That model includes a master body, like the ISC, and subcommittees that operate within that body, such as the Screening Committees and the Fee Review Committees that work in the Criminal, Juvenile Dependency and Probate/Civil systems. All of those committees are run 100% by volunteer attorneys who participate in the CAC system. They are the peers that review applications for new Registry attorneys and review “long form” Makemson bills for their reasonableness before submission to a judge for payment. Due Process Providers, such as court reporters, process servers, investigators, and expert witnesses rely on a functioning advisory board like the ISC when their issues need to be addressed. That will continue in Miami-Dade County.
6. As you should all know by now, the five Directors of the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel have been selected by Governor Crist. They will be moving swiftly in communicating with county administrators in order to find the space to set up their “law offices”. They will begin the process of interviewing and hiring attorneys and support staff. Depending on where you work in this State, the offices should be functional sometime between October 1 and December 31, 2007. Once that happens, private attorneys will see a drastic reduction in the amount of conflict cases that they are appointed to. Estimates are that the private registry will receive approximately 20% of all criminal conflicts in the future.
7. In Dade County, if you have not signed the “new” contract that became effective on July 1, 2007, your name has been removed from the Registry. In order to be placed back on the Registry, you must sign a new contract. As of August 17th, a total of 88 attorneys had signed the new contract in Dade County.
More information will be made available to all CAC attorneys in the near future.
Stay tuned and please feel free to contact me should you have any additional questions.
Rick Freedman, Esq.