Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office are overworked and giving inferior legal help to its clients, judges from the Third District Court of Appeal have ruled that they must continue handling minor felony cases. The appeals court rejected a request to transfer third-degree felonies to another state-funded legal defense agency.
According to Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, the office’s noncapital felony caseload increased by almost one third between 2003 and 2008. However, resources have decreased 11% from two years ago.
Last fall, a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge ruled that the office could refuse new third-degree felonies like grand theft auto, battery, and marijuana possession. This week’s ruling has reversed that decision, saying that the Public Defender’s Office could not violate defendants’ right to representation. The ruling added that the courts are not an appropriate venue for a political statement about workload and lack of funding.
Martinez has said he will appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.
Handle minor cases, public defender told, Miami Herald, May 13, 2009
Appeals court says Miami defender can’t shed cases, PalmBeachPost.com, May 13, 2009
Our South Florida criminal attorney can answer your legal questions.