THIRD: Dr. McGriff who runs a PTI program wrote this in response to the Colonel's missive:
M. David McGriff, Ph.D.,CEO, The Advocate Program, Inc. said...
Problem #2: PTI
Allow me to take strong issue to the “problem” of PTI mentioned in the Justice Building Blog. The Advocate Program has been providing PTI services to the State Attorney’s Office and Courts for over 30 years (and on an exclusive basis to the misdemeanor division until about 6 years ago). While we run this agency as a business, and have managed to do that successfully for a long time, as a Not-For-Profit 501 c 3 agency, we have neither owners nor shareholders to please. So we have always been able to set our fees at the most reasonable levels possible. Every time we have an audit done, we send the results to both the State Attorney and the Chief Judge.
It has never been the policy of this Program to discourage a defendant from seeking legal counsel and I should know since my involvement with this Program goes back over 35 years. In fact, I can’t remember when an Advocate PTI letter (and we have been sending them since the late 1970’s) didn’t include the admonition to a prospective client to bring the letter “(with your attorney if you have one)”. We try, as best we can, to determine if an attorney has been retained prior to sending a letter. If the blog was referring to the new Criminal Traffic Diversion program, we have not sent letters on those cases although, per the State Attorney’s Office, we reserve the right to do so. And as always we would never discourage a defendant not to retain an attorney in those cases or any other. Contrary to the blog we’ve always considered the Defense Bar as a critical referral source for us and have worked together in the interests of defendants for a long time. We both understand that a “not guilty” plea and a nolle prose as a result of a PTI program are much better alternatives to a “no contest” plea and a withhold of adjudication which have become the standard results for unrepresented defendants in the misdemeanor Criminal Division. As always, this Program stands ready to work with all of our system partners for the benefit of the citizens of Miami-Dade County and defendants of the 11th Judicial Circuit. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or other issues.
M. David McGriff, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Advocate Program, Inc.
And the Colonel responds: With all due respect to the good doctor, I have called the program (both Advocate and Court Options) several times posing as a defendant who received a letter. I will engage the person in conversation and at some point will wonder out loud whether I need to consult a lawyer about my choice. Invariably, indeed in every occasion but one, the person will respond to the effect of "why pay money for a lawyer when we can get your case dismissed?" Therein Dr. McGriff, lies the problem with your PTI program. But as long as the SAO and the court give you the unfettered license to practice law without one, there's not a whole lot we can do about it except shine the cold hard light of truth on what is going on.
Rumpole says: This is what the blog is for- a discussion of the issues when not betting or drinking. Have at it.