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November 18, 2017
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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. 27.40
27.40 Court-appointed counsel; circuit registries; minimum requirements; appointment by court.
(1) Counsel shall be appointed to represent any individual in a criminal or civil proceeding entitled to court-appointed counsel under the Federal or State Constitution or as authorized by general law. The court shall appoint a public defender to represent indigent persons as authorized in s. 27.51. The office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel shall be appointed to represent persons in those cases in which provision is made for court-appointed counsel but the public defender is unable to provide representation due to a conflict of interest or is not authorized to provide representation.
(2)(a) Private counsel shall be appointed to represent persons in those cases in which provision is made for court-appointed counsel but the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel is unable to provide representation due to a conflict of interest.
(b) Private counsel appointed by the court to provide representation shall be selected from a registry of individual attorneys maintained under this section.
(3) In using a registry:
(a) The chief judge of the circuit shall compile a list of attorneys in private practice, by county and by category of cases, and provide the list to the clerk of court in each county. The chief judge of the circuit may restrict the number of attorneys on the general registry list. To be included on a registry, an attorney must certify that he or she:
1. Meets any minimum requirements established by the chief judge and by general law for court appointment;
2. Is available to represent indigent defendants in cases requiring court appointment of private counsel; and
3. Is willing to abide by the terms of the contract for services.

To be included on a registry, an attorney must enter into a contract for services with the Justice Administrative Commission. Failure to comply with the terms of the contract for services may result in termination of the contract and removal from the registry. Each attorney on the registry is responsible for notifying the clerk of the court and the Justice Administrative Commission of any change in his or her status. Failure to comply with this requirement is cause for termination of the contract for services and removal from the registry until the requirement is fulfilled.

(b) The court shall appoint attorneys in rotating order in the order in which names appear on the applicable registry, unless the court makes a finding of good cause on the record for appointing an attorney out of order. The clerk of court shall maintain the registry and provide to the court the name of the attorney for appointment. An attorney not appointed in the order in which his or her name appears on the list shall remain next in order.
(c) If the number of attorneys on the registry in a county or circuit for a particular category of cases is inadequate, the chief judge of the particular circuit shall provide to the clerk of court the names of at least three private attorneys who have relevant experience. The clerk of court shall send an application to each of these attorneys to register for appointment.
(d) Quarterly, each chief judge shall provide a current copy of each registry to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the state attorney and public defender in each judicial circuit, the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, the clerk of court in each county, and the Justice Administrative Commission. The registry shall be provided to the Justice Administrative Commission in the form and manner provided by the commission.
(4) To be eligible for court appointment, an attorney must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar in addition to any other qualifications specified by general law and any requirements set by the chief judge of the circuit.
(5) The Justice Administrative Commission shall approve uniform contract forms for use in procuring the services of private court-appointed counsel and uniform procedures and forms for use by a court-appointed attorney in support of billing for attorney’s fees, costs, and related expenses to demonstrate the attorney’s completion of specified duties.
(6) After court appointment, the attorney must immediately file a notice of appearance with the court indicating acceptance of the appointment to represent the defendant.
(7)(a) A private attorney appointed by the court from the registry to represent a client is entitled to payment as provided in s. 27.5304. An attorney appointed by the court who is not on the registry list may be compensated under s. 27.5304 if the court finds in the order of appointment that there were no registry attorneys available for representation for that case.
(b)1. The attorney shall maintain appropriate documentation, including contemporaneous and detailed hourly accounting of time spent representing the client. If the attorney fails to maintain such contemporaneous and detailed hourly records, the attorney waives the right to seek compensation in excess of the flat fee established in s. 27.5304 and the General Appropriations Act. These records and documents are subject to review by the Justice Administrative Commission, subject to the attorney-client privilege and work-product privilege. The attorney shall maintain the records and documents in a manner that enables the attorney to redact any information subject to a privilege in order to facilitate the commission’s review of the records and documents and not to impede such review. The attorney may redact information from the records and documents only to the extent necessary to comply with the privilege.
2. If an attorney fails, refuses, or declines to permit the commission to review documentation for a case as provided in this paragraph, the attorney waives the right to seek, and the commission may not pay, compensation in excess of the flat fee established in s. 27.5304 and the General Appropriations Act for that case.
3. A finding by the commission that an attorney has waived the right to seek compensation in excess of the flat fee established in s. 27.5304 and the General Appropriations Act, as provided in this paragraph, is presumed to be valid, unless, as determined by a court, the commission’s finding is not supported by competent and substantial evidence.
(8) Subject to the attorney-client privilege and the work-product privilege, an attorney who withdraws or is removed from representation shall deliver all files, notes, documents, and research to the successor attorney within 15 days after receiving notice from the successor attorney. The successor attorney shall bear the cost of transmitting all files, notes, documents, and research.
(9) Any interested person may advise the court of any circumstance affecting the quality of representation, including, but not limited to, false or fraudulent billing, misconduct, failure to meet continuing legal education requirements, solicitation to receive compensation from the client the attorney is appointed to represent, or failure to file appropriate motions in a timely manner.
(10) The attorney shall provide information in the form specified by the Justice Administrative Commission pursuant to s. 27.405, subject to the attorney-client privilege and work-product privilege.
(11) This section does not apply to attorneys appointed to represent persons in postconviction capital collateral cases pursuant to part IV of this chapter.
History.s. 13, ch. 2003-402; s. 6, ch. 2004-265; s. 1, ch. 2005-236; s. 1, ch. 2007-62; s. 5, ch. 2010-162; s. 1, ch. 2012-123; s. 1, ch. 2014-49; s. 6, ch. 2014-59.