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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 27
STATE ATTORNEYS; PUBLIC DEFENDERS; RELATED OFFICES
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F.S. 27.5303
27.5303 Public defenders; criminal conflict and civil regional counsel; conflict of interest.
(1)(a) If, at any time during the representation of two or more defendants, a public defender determines that the interests of those accused are so adverse or hostile that they cannot all be counseled by the public defender or his or her staff without conflict of interest, or that none can be counseled by the public defender or his or her staff because of a conflict of interest, then the public defender shall file a motion to withdraw and move the court to appoint other counsel. The court shall review and may inquire or conduct a hearing into the adequacy of the public defender’s representations regarding a conflict of interest without requiring the disclosure of any confidential communications. The court shall deny the motion to withdraw if the court finds the grounds for withdrawal are insufficient or the asserted conflict is not prejudicial to the indigent client. If the court grants the motion to withdraw, the court shall appoint one or more attorneys to represent the accused, as provided in s. 27.40. The public defender shall submit to the Justice Administrative Commission a copy of the order granting the motion to withdraw within 30 days after the motion is granted. The commission shall report quarterly to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the number of orders granting motions to withdraw for each circuit.
(b) If, at any time during the representation of two or more persons in a criminal or civil proceeding, a criminal conflict and civil regional counsel determines that the interests of those clients are so adverse or hostile that they cannot all be counseled by the regional counsel or his or her staff without conflict of interest, or that none can be counseled by the regional counsel or his or her staff because of a conflict of interest, the regional counsel shall file a motion to withdraw and move the court to appoint other counsel. If requested by the Justice Administrative Commission, the regional counsel shall submit a copy of the motion to the Justice Administrative Commission at the time it is filed with the court. The court shall review and may inquire or conduct a hearing into the adequacy of the regional counsel’s representations regarding a conflict of interest without requiring the disclosure of any confidential communications. The court shall deny the motion to withdraw if the court finds the grounds for withdrawal are insufficient or the asserted conflict is not prejudicial to the client. If the court grants the motion to withdraw, the court shall appoint one or more private attorneys to represent the person as provided in s. 27.40. The clerk of court shall inform the regional office and the commission when the court appoints private counsel.
(c) Upon its own motion, the court shall appoint such other counsel when the facts developed upon the face of the record and court files in the case disclose a conflict of interest. The clerk shall advise the appropriate public defender or criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, in writing, with an electronic copy to the Justice Administrative Commission when the court makes the motion and appoints one or more attorneys. The court shall specify the basis for the conflict.
(d) In no case shall the court approve a withdrawal by the public defender or criminal conflict and civil regional counsel based solely upon inadequacy of funding or excess workload of the public defender or regional counsel.
(e) In determining whether or not there is a conflict of interest, the public defender or regional counsel shall apply the standards contained in the Uniform Standards for Use in Conflict of Interest Cases found in appendix C to the Final Report of the Article V Indigent Services Advisory Board dated January 6, 2004. Before a motion to withdraw is filed under this section, the public defender or regional counsel serving the circuit, or his or her designee, must:
1. Determine if there is a viable alternative to withdrawal from representation which would remedy the conflict of interest and, if it exists, implement that alternative; and
2. Approve in writing the filing of the motion to withdraw.
(2) The court shall appoint conflict counsel pursuant to s. 27.40, first appointing the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel and, if the office is found to have a conflict, appointing private counsel. The appointed private attorney may not be affiliated with the public defender, any assistant public defender, the regional counsel, or any assistant regional counsel in his or her official capacity or any other private attorney appointed to represent a codefendant. The public defender or regional counsel may not participate in case-related decisions, performance evaluations, or expense determinations in conflict cases.
(3) Private court-appointed counsel shall be compensated as provided in s. 27.5304.
(4)(a) If a defendant is convicted and the death sentence is imposed, the appointed attorney shall continue representation through appeal to the Supreme Court. The attorney shall be compensated as provided in s. 27.5304. If the attorney first appointed is unable to handle the appeal, the court shall appoint another attorney and that attorney shall be compensated as provided in s. 27.5304.
(b) When the appointed attorney in a capital case has completed the duties imposed by this section, the attorney shall file a written report in the trial court stating the duties performed by the attorney and apply for discharge.
History.s. 19, ch. 2003-402; s. 10, ch. 2004-265; s. 10, ch. 2007-62; s. 3, ch. 2014-59.