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Amicus Brief filed by Florida Capital Resource Center (Terry Lenamon) in Fletcher v JAC

Amicus Brief filed by Florida Capital Resource Center (Terry Lenamon) in Fletcher v JAC

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Published by Reba Kennedy
Amicus brief filed in argument for indigent defense attorneys fees in death penalty case, Florida 1st DCA.
Amicus brief filed in argument for indigent defense attorneys fees in death penalty case, Florida 1st DCA.

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Published by: Reba Kennedy on Apr 10, 2013
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09/22/2014

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1
IDENTITY AND STATEMENT OF INTEREST OF
AMICUS CURIAE
FLORIDA CAPITAL RESOURCE CENTER 
Florida Capital Resource Center (“FCRC”) is a nonprofit organization
whose mission is to protect the constitutional rights of indigent capital defendants by continuously working to improve the effectiveness of capital representation inthe State of Florida. To that end, FCRC provides free consultation, research,advocacy, training, and other resources to capital defenders across the State.The Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel for indigent capital
defendants is the cornerstone of FCRC’s mission, and FCRC recognizes that right
is dependent upon the reasonable and adequate compensation of court-appointedattorneys. Though the cases at bar directly concern the compensation Petitioners
were awarded by the court below, FCRC’s interest is in preventing the far 
-reachingand damaging implications an adverse decision for Petitioners will have on therights of other capital defendants, both within and beyond the Fourth Circuit.FCRC supports Petitioners because the Sixth Amendment right to effective counselmust be fiercely guarded, particularly for those facing the ultimate sentence.
CONTEXT OF THE CASE
To assist the Court’s understanding and disposition of this case,
 Amicus
offers the following as the
context
” in which the issues presented herein arose.
 
I.
 
COMPENSATION FOR APPOINTED CONFLICT-COUNSEL
The right to counsel is a fundamental right provided for in both the United
 
2States and Florida Constitutions. U.S. Const. amend.VI; Fla. Const. art. I, §16.When a criminal defendant is found to be indigent, an attorney is appointed and paid for by the State. Pursuant to section 27.5303, Florida Statutes (2012), when acourt determines that a conflict of interest exists such that neither the Office of thePublic Defender nor the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counselare available to represent the defendant, the court is required to appoint privateattorneys pursuant to the procedure provided in section 27.40, Florida Statutes(2012). As with public defenders, Article V, section 14 of the Florida Constitution provides that these private court-appointed attorneys
(“conflict
-counsel
) are to be paid from State revenues. The agency charged with disbursing those payments isthe Justice Administrative Commission (
JAC
). Fla. Stat. §27.5304(1) (2012).Section 27.5304, Florida Statutes (2012), provides the compensation schemefor conflict-counsel, including a schedule of flat fees based on the class of offense:1.
 
For misdemeanors and juveniles represented at the trial level: $1,000.2.
 
For noncapital, nonlife felonies represented at the trial level: $2,500.3.
 
For life felonies represented at the trial level: $3,000.4.
 
For capital cases represented at the trial level: $15,000. . . .5.
 
For representation on appeal: $2,000.Fla. Stat. §27.5304(5)(a). As noted in subsection (11), the Legislature intended
“that
the flat fees prescribed . . . comprise the full and complete compensation for  private court-
appointed counsel.” Fla. Stat. §27.5304(11). However, subsection
(12) provides the flat
fees may be exceeded in cases that require “extraordinary and
 
3unusual ef 
fort.”
See
Fla. Stat. §27.5304(12). Upon such a finding (by
the circuit’s
chief judge (or designee)), the court may order compensation at a percentage above
the flat fee “to ensure the fees paid are not confiscatory under common law.”
 Id 
.
 
Should the chief judge determine that 200% of the flat fee would still be
confiscatory, the judge “shall order the amount of compensation using an hourly
rate not to exceed $75 per hour for a noncapital case and $100 per hour for a
capital case,” awarding only up to an
amount deemed no longer confiscatory.
 Id 
.
II.
 
THE RECENT AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 27.5304
In the final days of the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1960. That bill, which became session law Chapter 2012-123,amended section 27.5304(12) (2011), restructuring the funds from which
attorney’s fees beyond the flat rates are paid. Previously, conflict
-counsel fees,including those above the flat rates, were paid by the JAC from the CriminalConflict Appropriation Category in the General Appropriation Act, and last year the Legislature appropriated $3 million to a special category specifically to cover fees ordered in excess of the flat rates.
See
S
TATE
O
F
F
LA
.,
 
7120
 
B
ILL
A
 NALYSIS
A
 ND
F
ISCAL
I
MPACT
S
TATEMENT
, Senate Budget Committee, Reg. Sess., at 3(2011). However, over the last several years, the costs of conflict-counsel haveexceeded the original appropriations and the Legislature has had to transfer fundsfrom other due process categories in the JAC and make supplemental

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