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Justices Listen to Arguments Against Regional Public Law Offices

February 27th, 2008 by flanews

The Florida Supreme Court will decide if offices created to provide representation to people charged by the state are constitutional. Supreme Court justices listened to arguments Wednesday morning in Tallahassee. In 2007, a state law created five regional offices to handle criminal cases that public defenders couldn’t take on due to conflicts of interests. The attorneys in the offices are appointed. The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said staffing the offices with appointed instead of elected officials violate the state constitution.

“The offices that the legislature created are in contravention with the constitution that requires that they be run by elected officials, the broader issue is we’re worried about the independence of these officers and we’re worried about the funding of the offices,” said Sonya Rudenstine, with the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The hearing ended before noon this morning. Now it’s up to the Justices to decide whether the 2007 law violates the constitution.

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