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Monday, May 05, 2014
THE LIMITED REGISTRY IS DEAD
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
"Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that." John Donne (1572-1631), Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.
OR, SAID ANOTHER WAY: "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead".
Which old witch you ask?
Well, none other than the Limited Registry.***
The 2012 Florida Legislature passed SB 1960 which created the infamous LR. And for the past two years, the Private Court Appointed Counsel (PCAC) program was in limbo while the new law was under attack from all sides. Litigation abounded throughout the State, most particularly in South Florida. The train was driven by the local Miami Chapter of FACDL, and they deserve much credit for derailing the LR train.
Finally, after 24 months, on July 1, 2014, the LR will be no more. And, amazingly, the 2014 Florida Legislature went several steps further.
***Before 2012, there was only a General Registry of PCAC attorneys. LR attorneys contractually agreed to take all court appointments with the understanding that they could not, under any circumstances, file a Motion with the Court, (under Makemson), requesting they be paid above the cap, when they handled extraordinary cases. Only LR attorneys received court appointments during the past two years; General Registry attorneys were, for the most part, left out of the appointments process; (except in capital cases).
For years, FACDL has been lobbying the issue of the statutory fees and the caps on those fees. Those caps were last increased the year Ronald Wilson Reagan was sworn into office. (That's 1981 for those of you under the age of 33).
Under the Appropriations bill passed by both chambers late Friday night, the Maximum Fees on criminal cases will look like this:
CASE TYPE CURRENT MAX FEE NEW MAX FEE
Noncapital nonlife felonies
Life felony cases
There are other changes that the bill addresses, but those other changes do not have any effect here in South Florida; YET. In the Sixth, Ninth, Tenth, and Thirteenth Judicial Circuits, they have created a "cross-circuit conflict representation pilot project".
Currently, when the PD conflicts, the case goes to the Regional Counsel's office. When the RC conflicts, the case then goes to the PCAC Registry. Under the pilot project, in the above Circuits, when the PD and RC conflict in the 6th Circuit, the case will go to the PD in the 13th Circuit. When the same thing happens in the 10th Circuit, the PD's office in the 9th will be assigned the case. And vice versa.
If this pilot project works, you will see an eventual phase out of nearly all PCAC cases in those Circuits. Only when four different offices conflict would there then need to be a PCAC attorney ready to take the case.
If we look at history, pre-RC, in the 11th Circuit, the PD was conflicting on about 3,000 cases each year. That's 3,000 cases that were then being assigned to PCAC attorneys. Since the inception of the RC, about 75% of the PD conflicts now end up with the Office of the RC. That leaves about 750 cases annually that are handled by the attorneys that are on the PCAC Registry.
If the legislature likes what they see with the pilot project, will Miami-Dade and Broward be next in cross-circuit representation? If that happens, the 750 case figure would likely drop by 90% or more.
So, there you have it. The new law is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2014, absent a veto by the Governor.
CAPTAIN OUT .....