History of the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
In 1998 Florida voters passed Amendment 7 which provided for revisions to Article V of Florida’s Constitution as relates to funding responsibility for the courts. In 2004 the State of Florida assumed responsibility for funding registry attorneys in criminal conflict and in civil cases for which the State was required to provide counsel. Prior to implementation of Amendment 7, each of Florida’s 67 counties provided conflict counsel for those deemed indigent and paid the expense for these attorneys.
The statewide registry system proved to be both expensive and difficult to manage over Florida’s 67 counties and more than 1,000 courtrooms which required attorneys for indigent cases. In the first year of implementation, the new system (pure registry appointments for both criminal and civil cases) cost the State of Florida 48 million dollars. The second year, the cost jumped to 68 million dollars and the next year to more than 94 million dollars. For FY 2006-2007 the cost had ballooned to more than 120 million dollars.
As a result of the burgeoning cost of indigent legal services and the inability to predict or manage the year-to-year expenses of the registry system, the legislature created the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (RCC) coinciding with the five district court of appeal regions to handle the first criminal conflict or civil appointment. Since the first full year of operation (2008-2009) the overall cost of registry AND regional counsels for the entire state have remained constant at a cost of between 75-80 million dollars. The RCC’s provide quality representation at predictable cost.
RC1 serves those counties within the jurisdiction of the first District Court of Appeals, which includes six circuits and 32 counties. They are as follows:
First Circuit: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton
Second Circuit: Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Liberty, Franklin
Third Circuit: Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia
Fourth Circuit: Nassau, Duval, Clay
Eighth Circuit: Baker, Union, Bradford, Gilchrist, Alachua, Levy
Fourteenth Circuit: Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf
RC1 employs 121 full-time employees. On average, RC1 absorbs about 75% of the criminal conflict cases and about 40% of the civil dependency appointments. Within the agency, the mix is approximately 70% criminal and 30% civil. RC1’s attorneys are very experienced. The average attorney employed at RC1 has practiced law for more than 13 years. Their goal, and that of the support staff, is to provide RC1’s clients with the very best legal service possible.