Dear Judge Brown:
After reviewing the new law creating a "Limited Court Registry" for court appointments, and reviewing the FACDL's letter on the matter (attached below) , please accept this as notice that we will NOT be applying for the limited court registry. Allow us a moment to explain why:
Criminal defense is a serious business. People are charged with crimes that have life-lasting and life altering effects. There is the stigma of being charged with a crime. If convicted there is the black mark of a conviction and perhaps incarceration. In an era of instantaneous electronic information, a person's criminal history stays with them-at least on the Internet- forever. In an era when the legislature trusts your profession (the judiciary) less and less and thus creates more minimum mandatory prison sentences, the need for a professional who has spent years training in this specialized area of the law could not be more important.
Senate bill 1960 represents more than an attack on criminal defendants and their attorneys, it represents an unprecedented attack on the criminal justice system. The bill creates an era and aura of disrespect for the Bill Of Rights. The right to a competent attorney; the right to discovery under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure; the right to a trial by jury and thus the right to confront and cross examine those who accuse you- all of these rights are dismissed by the creation of the limited registry.
In place of these rights, the limited registry creates a plea factory. The appointed attorney has NO incentive and little option to do more than work a few hours to obtain a plea for their client. The law implies that the police and prosecution are almost always right, and thus most people will not need- and Florida will not provide- a quality defense attorney. Suffice to say that neither you, nor I, nor the Governor, nor any legislator who supported this law would accept for ourselves or our family a limited registry attorney.
The Limited Registry codifies what is already being openly whispered about- that in Florida, the amount of Justice you can obtain is directly proportional to the amount of Justice you can afford to pay for.
I for one will not participate in such an enterprise. The letter by Jude Faccidomo on behalf of the FACDL expresses their opinion that their members should also not participate in such a dangerous enterprise. Dangerous- because our criminal justice system teeters on the edge of disrespect by society. When the system loses respect, it is easier for police officers to lie, for prosecutors to abandon their responsibilities, for citizens to commit crimes.
There are times in a society when a tipping point is reached. And the road travelled depends directly upon the actions of individuals faced with a choice. The choice of conscientious criminal defense attorneys is in our opinion clear: at their own financial peril they should not join this attack on our bar, our courts, and our rights.
Your Humble Servant,
Senate Bill 1960
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