Florida Senate - 2021                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. PCS (771334) for CS for SB 1920
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              

       The Committee on Appropriations (Book) recommended the
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete lines 450 - 631
    4  and insert:
    5  representation of children with diminished capacity;
    6         9. Shall retain responsibility for the quality of
    7  contracted services and ensure that, at a minimum, services are
    8  delivered in accordance with applicable federal and state
    9  statutes and regulations; and
   10         10.Shall submit to the Governor, the President of the
   11  Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the
   12  Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:
   13         a.An interim report describing the progress of the
   14  statewide office in meeting the responsibilities described in
   15  this paragraph.
   16         b.A proposed plan that includes alternatives for meeting
   17  the representation needs of children in this state. The plan may
   18  include recommendations for implementation in only a portion of
   19  this state or phased-in statewide implementation and must
   20  include an estimate of the cost of each such alternative.
   21         c.An annual status report that includes any additional
   22  recommendations for addressing the representation needs of
   23  children in this state and related issues.
   24         (d)The department or community-based care lead agency
   25  shall take any steps necessary to obtain all available federal
   26  funding and maintain compliance with eligibility requirements.
   27         (e)The statewide office may contract with a local
   28  nonprofit agency to provide direct attorney representation to a
   29  child, including, but not limited to, representation in the
   30  dependency proceeding as provided for in s. 39.831, if the
   31  office determines that the contract is the most efficient method
   32  to satisfy its statutory duties and if federal funding has been
   33  approved for this purpose or the local agency is required in the
   34  contract to seek such approval. The office must ensure that
   35  reimbursement of any Title IV-E funds is properly documented.
   36         1.A local nonprofit agency under contract with the
   37  statewide office shall:
   38         a. Provide competent representation to all children to whom
   39  the agency is appointed, including compliance with the protocols
   40  and standards developed by the statewide office with respect to
   41  its representation;
   42         b. Ensure that any documentation that is required for
   43  reimbursement of any Title IV-E funds is provided to the
   44  statewide office on a monthly basis;
   45         c. Provide accurate and timely information that is
   46  necessary for the statewide office to provide oversight and
   47  comply with its requirements under this section;
   48         d. Ensure all staff comply with mandatory training as
   49  required by the statewide office; and
   50         e. Comply with federal and state statutory requirements and
   51  provisions as required under the contract.
   52         2. A contract established between the statewide office and
   53  any local nonprofit agency must be funded by a grant of general
   54  revenue, other applicable state funds, or applicable federal
   55  funding sources. Unless otherwise provided by law, nothing in
   56  this paragraph shall preclude such an agency from raising funds
   57  by other means.
   58         a. The method of payment and distribution of funds must be
   59  provided for in the contract between the statewide office and a
   60  local nonprofit agency; and
   61         b. Each contract with a local nonprofit agency shall
   62  provide for the payment by the department to the agency of a
   63  reasonable administrative cost in addition to funding for the
   64  provision of services.
   66  child representation is created within the area served by each
   67  of the five district courts of appeal. The offices shall
   68  commence fulfilling their statutory purpose and duties on July
   69  1, 2022.
   71  representation counsel shall serve on a full-time basis and may
   72  not engage in the private practice of law while holding office.
   73  Each assistant child representation counsel shall give priority
   74  and preference to his or her duties as assistant child
   75  representation counsel and may not otherwise engage in the
   76  practice of dependency law. However, a part-time child
   77  representation counsel may practice dependency law for private
   78  payment so long as the representation does not result in a legal
   79  or ethical conflict of interest with a case in which the office
   80  of child representation is providing representation.
   81         Section 8. Section 39.831, Florida Statutes, is created to
   82  read:
   83         39.831Attorney for the child.
   84         (1)APPOINTMENT.—
   85         (a) An attorney for the child:
   86         1. Shall be appointed by the court as provided in s.
   87  39.01305(3);
   88         2. Shall be appointed by the court for any child who is
   89  placed in out-of-home licensed care on or after July 1, 2022,
   90  and who is the subject of a dependency proceeding under this
   91  chapter; or
   92         3. May be appointed at the court’s discretion to represent
   93  a child who is the subject of a dependency proceeding upon a
   94  finding that circumstances exist which require the appointment.
   95         (b) The court who appoints an attorney for the child under
   96  paragraph (a) shall appoint the Statewide Office of Child
   97  Representation unless the child is otherwise represented by
   98  counsel.
   99         (c)An attorney for the child appointed pursuant to this
  100  section shall represent the child only in the dependency
  101  proceeding, which may include representation in fair hearings
  102  and appellate proceedings that are directly related to matters
  103  needing resolution for the child to achieve permanency. The
  104  Statewide Office of Child Representation or local nonprofit
  105  agency appointed to represent a child in the dependency
  106  proceeding shall provide representation in fair hearings within
  107  the resources allotted for representation in the dependency
  108  proceeding. Trained staff of the office of child representation
  109  or local nonprofit agency may attend the fair hearings rather
  110  than the appointed attorney when appropriate. Trained staff for
  111  purposes of this paragraph may include, but is not limited to,
  112  social workers, case managers, education advocates, or health
  113  care advocates.
  114         (d) Notwithstanding the basis on which an attorney for the
  115  child is appointed under paragraph (a), the appointment of the
  116  attorney for the child continues in effect until the attorney
  117  for the child is allowed to withdraw or is discharged by the
  118  court or until the case is dismissed. An attorney for the child
  119  who is appointed under this section to represent a child shall
  120  provide all required legal services in the dependency proceeding
  121  or fair hearings provided for in this section from the time of
  122  the child’s removal from home or of the attorney for the child’s
  123  initial appointment through all appellate proceedings. With the
  124  permission of the court, the appointed attorney for the child
  125  may arrange for supplemental or separate counsel to represent
  126  the child in appellate proceedings. A court order appointing an
  127  attorney for the child under this section must be in writing.
  128         (e) If, at any time during the representation of two or
  129  more children in a dependency proceeding, a child representation
  130  counsel determines that the interests of those clients are so
  131  adverse or hostile that they cannot all be counseled by child
  132  representation counsel or his or her staff because of a conflict
  133  of interest, the child representation counsel shall file a
  134  motion to withdraw and move the court to appoint other counsel.
  135  Child representation counsel may not automatically determine the
  136  appointment to represent siblings is a conflict of interest. If
  137  requested by the Justice Administrative Commission, the child
  138  representation counsel shall submit a copy of the motion to the
  139  Justice Administrative Commission at the time it is filed with
  140  the court. The court shall review and may inquire or conduct a
  141  hearing into the adequacy of the child representation counsel’s
  142  submissions regarding a conflict of interest without requiring
  143  the disclosure of any confidential communications. The court
  144  shall deny the motion to withdraw if the court finds the grounds
  145  for withdrawal are insufficient or the asserted conflict is not
  146  prejudicial to the client. If the court grants the motion to
  147  withdraw, the court shall appoint one or more private attorneys
  148  to represent the person in accordance with the requirements and
  149  process provided for in s. 27.40. The clerk of court shall
  150  inform the child representation counsel and the commission when
  151  the court appoints private counsel.
  152         (f) Unless the attorney has agreed to provide pro bono
  153  services, an appointed attorney or organization must be
  154  adequately compensated as provided in s. 27.5304. All appointed
  155  attorneys and organizations, including pro bono attorneys, must
  156  be provided with access to funding for expert witnesses,
  157  depositions, and other due process costs of litigation. Payments
  158  of attorney fees and case-related due process costs are subject
  159  to appropriations and review by the Justice Administrative
  160  Commission for reasonableness. The Justice Administrative
  161  Commission shall contract with attorneys appointed by the court.
  162  Attorney fees may not exceed $1,000 per child per year.
  163         (g) In cases in which one or both parents are financially
  164  able, the parent or parents, as applicable, of the child shall
  165  reimburse the court, in whole or in part, for the cost of
  166  services provided under this section; however, reimbursement for
  167  services provided by the attorney for the child may not be
  168  contingent upon successful collection by the court of
  169  reimbursement from the parent or parents.
  170         (2)ACCESS TO RECORDS.—Upon presentation of a court order
  171  appointing an attorney for the child:
  172         (a) An agency as defined in chapter 119 must allow the
  173  attorney for the child to inspect and copy records related to
  174  the child who is the subject of the appointment, including, but
  175  not limited to, records made confidential or exempt from s.
  176  119.07(1) or s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. The
  177  attorney for the child shall maintain the confidential or exempt
  178  status of any records shared by an agency under this paragraph.
  179         (b) A person or an organization, other than an agency under
  180  paragraph (a), must allow the attorney for the child to inspect
  181  and copy any records related to the child who is the subject of
  182  the appointment, including, but not limited to, confidential
  183  records.
  185  For the purposes of this subsection, the term “records”
  186  includes, but is not limited to, medical, mental health,
  187  substance abuse, child care, education, law enforcement, court,
  188  social services, and financial records.
  189         (3)COURT HEARINGS.—The attorney for the child shall review
  190  all disposition recommendations and changes in placements and
  191  file all appropriate motions on behalf of the child at least 72
  192  hours before the hearing.
  193         (4) PROCEDURES.—The department shall develop procedures to
  194  request that a court appoint an attorney for the child.
  195         (5) RULEMAKING.—The department may adopt rules to implement
  196  this section.
  197         Section 9. Subsection (1) of section 28.345, Florida
  198  Statutes, is amended to read:
  199         28.345 State access to records; exemption from court
  200  related fees and charges.—
  201         (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the clerk
  202  of the circuit court shall, upon request, provide access to
  203  public records without charge to the state attorney, public
  204  defender, guardian ad litem, public guardian, attorney ad litem,
  205  criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, court-appointed
  206  attorney for the child, and private court-appointed counsel paid
  207  by the state, and to authorized staff acting on their behalf.
  208  The clerk of court may provide the requested public record in an
  209  electronic format in lieu of a paper format if the requesting
  210  entity is capable of accessing such public record
  211  electronically.
  212         Section 10. Section 29.007, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  213  read:
  214         29.007 Court-appointed counsel.—For purposes of
  215  implementing s. 14, Art. V of the State Constitution, the
  216  elements of court-appointed counsel to be provided from state
  217  revenues appropriated by general law are as follows:
  218         (1) Private attorneys appointed by the court to handle
  219  cases where the defendant is indigent and cannot be represented
  220  by the public defender or the office of criminal conflict and
  221  civil regional counsel.
  222         (2) When the office of criminal conflict and civil regional
  223  counsel has a conflict of interest, private attorneys appointed
  224  by the court to represent indigents or other classes of
  225  litigants in civil proceedings requiring court-appointed counsel
  226  in accordance with state and federal constitutional guarantees
  227  and federal and state statutes.
  228         (3) When the Statewide Office of Child Representation or a
  229  local nonprofit agency with which it has contracted has a
  230  conflict of interest, private attorneys appointed by the court
  231  to represent indigents or other classes of litigants in civil
  232  proceedings requiring court-appointed counsel in accordance with
  233  federal and state statutes.
  234         (4)(3) Reasonable court reporting and transcription
  235  services necessary to meet constitutional or statutory
  236  requirements, including the cost of transcribing and copying
  237  depositions of witnesses and the cost of foreign language and
  238  sign-language interpreters and translators.
  239         (5)(4) Witnesses, including expert witnesses, summoned to
  240  appear for an investigation, preliminary hearing, or trial in a
  241  case when the witnesses are summoned on behalf of an indigent,
  242  and any other expert witnesses approved by the court.
  243         (6)(5) Mental health professionals appointed pursuant to s.
  244  394.473 and required in a court hearing involving an indigent,
  245  mental health professionals appointed pursuant to s. 916.115(2)
  246  and required in a court hearing involving an indigent, and any
  247  other mental health professionals required by law for the full
  248  adjudication of any civil case involving an indigent person.
  249         (7)(6) Reasonable pretrial consultation fees and costs.
  250         (8)(7) Travel expenses reimbursable under s. 112.061
  251  reasonably necessary in the performance of constitutional and
  252  statutory responsibilities.
  254  Subsections (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7), and (8) apply when
  255  court-appointed counsel is appointed; when the court determines
  256  that the litigant is indigent for costs; or when the litigant is
  257  acting pro se and the court determines that the litigant is
  258  indigent for costs at the trial or appellate level. This section
  259  applies in any situation in which the court appoints counsel to
  260  protect a litigant’s due process rights. The Justice
  261  Administrative Commission shall approve uniform contract forms
  262  for use in processing payments for due process services under
  263  this section. In each case in which a private attorney
  264  represents a person determined by the court to be indigent for
  265  costs, the attorney shall execute the commission’s contract for
  266  private attorneys representing persons determined to be indigent
  267  for costs.
  269  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  270  And the title is amended as follows:
  271         Delete lines 49 - 61
  272  and insert:
  273         nonprofit agencies under certain conditions; providing
  274         for duties of contracted local nonprofit agencies and
  275         requirements related to funding; creating a regional
  276         office of child representation within the boundaries
  277         of each of the five district courts of appeal;
  278         requiring such offices to commence fulfilling their
  279         purpose and duties on a specified date; prescribing
  280         qualifications for child representation counsel;
  281         providing certain prohibitions; amending s. 29.007,
  282         F.S., providing that private attorneys who are court
  283         appointed when the office of child representation or a
  284         local nonprofit agency have a conflict of interest
  285         must be funded by state revenue; creating s.