Florida Senate - 2021                                     SB 756
       By Senator Baxley
       12-00076C-21                                           2021756__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to criminal conflict and civil
    3         regional counsels; amending s. 27.0065, F.S.;
    4         specifying the responsibilities of regional counsels
    5         regarding witness coordination; amending s. 27.341,
    6         F.S.; revising legislative intent regarding electronic
    7         filing and receipt of court documents; amending s.
    8         27.511, F.S.; removing the requirement that regional
    9         counsel employees be governed by Justice
   10         Administrative Commission classification and salary
   11         and benefits plans; modifying procedures for the
   12         Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to
   13         nominate candidates to the Governor for regional
   14         counsel positions; specifying requirements for the
   15         manner of access to court facilities for regional
   16         counsels; amending s. 27.53, F.S.; revising
   17         requirements for the classification and pay plan
   18         developed by the regional counsels; amending s.
   19         39.0132, F.S.; authorizing the release of certain
   20         confidential information relating to proceedings
   21         involving children to regional counsels under
   22         specified circumstances; amending s. 92.153, F.S.;
   23         providing a limitation on costs for documents produced
   24         in response to a subpoena or records request by a
   25         regional counsel; amending s. 112.19, F.S.; redefining
   26         the term “law enforcement, correctional, or
   27         correctional probation officer” to include regional
   28         counsel investigators for purposes of eligibility for
   29         certain death benefits; amending s. 393.12, F.S.;
   30         waiving an education requirement for the appointment
   31         of attorneys from regional counsel offices to
   32         represent a person with a developmental disability;
   33         amending s. 394.916, F.S.; requiring a court to
   34         appoint a regional counsel or other counsel to
   35         represent an allegedly sexually violent predator in
   36         the event of a conflict; amending s. 744.331, F.S.;
   37         waiving a certain training requirement for the
   38         appointment of attorneys from regional counsel offices
   39         to represent an alleged incapacitated person; amending
   40         s. 790.25, F.S.; providing exceptions from
   41         unauthorized uses of firearms and other weapons for
   42         regional counsel investigators who meet certain
   43         criteria; amending s. 943.053, F.S.; specifying that a
   44         regional counsel may not be charged a fee for
   45         accessing certain criminal justice information;
   46         requiring the Department of Law Enforcement to provide
   47         regional counsels online access to certain
   48         information; amending s. 945.10, F.S.; authorizing the
   49         release of certain records and information to regional
   50         counsels; amending s. 945.48, F.S.; authorizing the
   51         appointment of a regional counsel to represent an
   52         inmate subject to involuntary mental health treatment
   53         if certain conditions exist; amending s. 985.045,
   54         F.S.; requiring that regional counsels have access to
   55         official records of juveniles whom they represent;
   56         providing an effective date.
   58  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   60         Section 1. Section 27.0065, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   61  read:
   62         27.0065 Witness coordination.—Each state attorney, and
   63  public defender, and criminal conflict and civil regional
   64  counsel is shall be responsible for:
   65         (1) Coordinating court appearances, including pretrial
   66  conferences and depositions, for all witnesses who are
   67  subpoenaed in criminal cases, including law enforcement
   68  personnel.
   69         (2) Contacting witnesses and securing information necessary
   70  to place a witness on an on-call status with regard to his or
   71  her court appearance.
   72         (3) Contacting witnesses to advise them not to report to
   73  court in the event the case for which they have been subpoenaed
   74  has been continued or has had a plea entered, or in the event
   75  there is any other reason why their attendance is not required
   76  on the dates they have been ordered to report.
   77         (4) Contacting the employer of a witness, when necessary,
   78  to confirm that the employee has been subpoenaed to appear in
   79  court as a witness.
   81  In addition, the state attorney, or public defender, or criminal
   82  conflict and civil regional counsel may provide additional
   83  services to reduce time and wage losses to a minimum for all
   84  witnesses.
   85         Section 2. Subsection (2) of section 27.341, Florida
   86  Statutes, is amended to read:
   87         27.341 Electronic filing and receipt of court documents.—
   88         (2) It is further the expectation of the Legislature that
   89  each office of the state attorney consult with the office of the
   90  public defender for the same circuit served by the office of the
   91  state attorney, the office of criminal conflict and civil
   92  regional counsel assigned to that circuit, the clerks of court
   93  for the circuit, the Florida Court Technology Commission, and
   94  any authority that governs the operation of a statewide portal
   95  for the electronic filing and receipt of court documents.
   96         Section 3. Subsections (2) and (3) of section 27.511,
   97  Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (10) is added to
   98  that section, to read:
   99         27.511 Offices of criminal conflict and civil regional
  100  counsel; legislative intent; qualifications; appointment;
  101  duties.—
  102         (2) Each office of criminal conflict and civil regional
  103  counsel shall be assigned to the Justice Administrative
  104  Commission for administrative purposes. The commission shall
  105  provide administrative support and service to the offices to the
  106  extent requested by each regional counsel within the available
  107  resources of the commission. The regional counsel and the
  108  offices are not subject to control, supervision, or direction by
  109  the commission in the performance of their duties, but the
  110  employees of the offices shall be governed by the classification
  111  plan and the salary and benefits plan for the commission.
  112         (3)(a) Each regional counsel must be, and must have been
  113  for the preceding 5 years, a member in good standing of The
  114  Florida Bar. Each regional counsel shall be appointed by the
  115  Governor and is subject to confirmation by the Senate. The
  116  Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, in addition to the
  117  current regional counsel, shall nominate recommend to the
  118  Governor the currently serving regional counsel, if he or she
  119  seeks reappointment, and may also nominate up to three not fewer
  120  than two or more than five additional qualified candidates for
  121  appointment to each of the five regional counsel positions for
  122  consideration by the Governor. The Governor shall appoint the
  123  regional counsel for the five regions from among the
  124  commission’s nominations recommendations, or, if it is in the
  125  best interest of the fair administration of justice, the
  126  Governor may reject the nominations and request that the Supreme
  127  Court Judicial Nominating Commission submit three new nominees.
  128  The regional counsel shall be appointed to a term of 4 years,
  129  the term beginning on October 1, 2015. Vacancies shall be filled
  130  in the manner provided in paragraph (b).
  131         (b) If for any reason a regional counsel is unable to
  132  complete a full term in office, the Governor may immediately
  133  appoint an interim regional counsel who meets the qualifications
  134  to be a regional counsel to serve as regional counsel for that
  135  region district until a new regional counsel is appointed in the
  136  manner provided in paragraph (a). The Florida Supreme Court
  137  Judicial Nominating Commission shall provide the Governor with a
  138  list of nominees for appointment within 6 months after the date
  139  of the vacancy. A temporary vacancy in office does not affect
  140  the validity of any matters or activities of the office of
  141  regional counsel.
  142         (10) Each court shall allow for the ingress and egress to
  143  its facilities for criminal conflict and civil regional counsels
  144  and assistant regional counsels in the same manner as is
  145  provided to public defenders and assistant public defenders,
  146  subject to the security requirements of each courthouse.
  147         Section 4. Subsection (4) of section 27.53, Florida
  148  Statutes, is amended to read:
  149         27.53 Appointment of assistants and other staff; method of
  150  payment.—
  151         (4) The five criminal conflict and civil regional counsels
  152  counsel may employ and establish, in the numbers authorized by
  153  the General Appropriations Act, assistant regional counsel and
  154  other staff and personnel in each judicial district pursuant to
  155  s. 29.006, who shall be paid from funds appropriated for that
  156  purpose. Notwithstanding s. 790.01, s. 790.02, or s.
  157  790.25(2)(a), an investigator employed by an office of criminal
  158  conflict and civil regional counsel, while actually carrying out
  159  official duties, is authorized to carry concealed weapons if the
  160  investigator complies with s. 790.25(3)(o). However, such
  161  investigators are not eligible for membership in the Special
  162  Risk Class of the Florida Retirement System. The five regional
  163  counsels counsel shall jointly develop a coordinated recommended
  164  modifications to the classification and pay plan for submission
  165  to and the salary and benefits plan for the Justice
  166  Administrative Commission, the President of the Senate, and the
  167  Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1 of each
  168  year. The plan must recommendations shall be submitted to the
  169  commission, the office of the President of the Senate, and the
  170  office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives before
  171  January 1 of each year. Such recommendations shall be developed
  172  in accordance with policies and procedures of the Executive
  173  Office of the Governor established in s. 216.181. Each assistant
  174  regional counsel appointed by the regional counsel under this
  175  section shall serve at the pleasure of the regional counsel.
  176  Each investigator employed by the regional counsel shall have
  177  full authority to serve any witness subpoena or court order
  178  issued by any court or judge in a criminal case in which the
  179  regional counsel has been appointed to represent the accused.
  180         Section 5. Subsection (3) and paragraph (a) of subsection
  181  (4) of section 39.0132, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  182         39.0132 Oaths, records, and confidential information.—
  183         (3) The clerk shall keep all court records required by this
  184  chapter separate from other records of the circuit court. All
  185  court records required by this chapter shall not be open to
  186  inspection by the public. All records shall be inspected only
  187  upon order of the court by persons deemed by the court to have a
  188  proper interest therein, except that, subject to the provisions
  189  of s. 63.162, a child and the parents of the child and their
  190  attorneys, the guardian ad litem, criminal conflict and civil
  191  regional counsels, law enforcement agencies, and the department
  192  and its designees shall always have the right to inspect and
  193  copy any official record pertaining to the child. The Justice
  194  Administrative Commission may inspect court dockets required by
  195  this chapter as necessary to audit compensation of court
  196  appointed attorneys. If the docket is insufficient for purposes
  197  of the audit, the commission may petition the court for
  198  additional documentation as necessary and appropriate. The court
  199  may permit authorized representatives of recognized
  200  organizations compiling statistics for proper purposes to
  201  inspect and make abstracts from official records, under whatever
  202  conditions upon their use and disposition the court may deem
  203  proper, and may punish by contempt proceedings any violation of
  204  those conditions.
  205         (4)(a)1. All information obtained pursuant to this part in
  206  the discharge of official duty by any judge, employee of the
  207  court, authorized agent of the department, correctional
  208  probation officer, or law enforcement agent is confidential and
  209  exempt from s. 119.07(1) and may not be disclosed to anyone
  210  other than the authorized personnel of the court, the department
  211  and its designees, correctional probation officers, law
  212  enforcement agents, the guardian ad litem, criminal conflict and
  213  civil regional counsels, and others entitled under this chapter
  214  to receive that information, except upon order of the court.
  215         2.a. The following information held by a guardian ad litem
  216  is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art.
  217  I of the State Constitution:
  218         (I) Medical, mental health, substance abuse, child care,
  219  education, law enforcement, court, social services, and
  220  financial records.
  221         (II) Any other information maintained by a guardian ad
  222  litem which is identified as confidential information under this
  223  chapter.
  224         b. Such confidential and exempt information may not be
  225  disclosed to anyone other than the authorized personnel of the
  226  court, the department and its designees, correctional probation
  227  officers, law enforcement agents, guardians ad litem, and others
  228  entitled under this chapter to receive that information, except
  229  upon order of the court.
  230         Section 6. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section
  231  92.153, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  232         92.153 Production of documents by witnesses; reimbursement
  233  of costs.—
  235         (a) In any proceeding, a disinterested witness shall be
  236  paid for any costs the witness reasonably incurs either directly
  237  or indirectly in producing, searching for, reproducing, or
  238  transporting documents pursuant to a summons; however, the cost
  239  of documents produced pursuant to a subpoena or records request
  240  by a state attorney, a or public defender, or a criminal
  241  conflict and civil regional counsel may not exceed 15 cents per
  242  page and $10 per hour for research or retrieval.
  243         Section 7. Paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section
  244  112.19, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  245         112.19 Law enforcement, correctional, and correctional
  246  probation officers; death benefits.—
  247         (1) As used in this section, the term:
  248         (b) “Law enforcement, correctional, or correctional
  249  probation officer” means any officer as defined in s. 943.10(14)
  250  or employee of the state or any political subdivision of the
  251  state, including any law enforcement officer, correctional
  252  officer, correctional probation officer, state attorney
  253  investigator, or public defender investigator, or criminal
  254  conflict and civil regional counsel investigator, whose duties
  255  require such officer or employee to investigate, pursue,
  256  apprehend, arrest, transport, or maintain custody of persons who
  257  are charged with, suspected of committing, or convicted of a
  258  crime; and the term includes any member of a bomb disposal unit
  259  whose primary responsibility is the location, handling, and
  260  disposal of explosive devices. The term also includes any full
  261  time officer or employee of the state or any political
  262  subdivision of the state, certified pursuant to chapter 943,
  263  whose duties require such officer to serve process or to attend
  264  a session of a circuit or county court as bailiff.
  265         Section 8. Paragraph (a) of subsection (5) of section
  266  393.12, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  267         393.12 Capacity; appointment of guardian advocate.—
  268         (5) COUNSEL.—Within 3 days after a petition has been filed,
  269  the court shall appoint an attorney to represent a person with a
  270  developmental disability who is the subject of a petition to
  271  appoint a guardian advocate. The person with a developmental
  272  disability may substitute his or her own attorney for the
  273  attorney appointed by the court.
  274         (a) The court shall initially appoint a private attorney
  275  who shall be selected from the attorney registry compiled
  276  pursuant to s. 27.40. Such attorney must have completed a
  277  minimum of 8 hours of education in guardianship. The court may
  278  waive this requirement for an attorney who has served as a
  279  court-appointed attorney in guardian advocate proceedings or as
  280  an attorney of record for guardian advocates for at least 3
  281  years. This education requirement does not apply to a court
  282  appointed attorney who is employed by an office of criminal
  283  conflict and civil regional counsel.
  284         Section 9. Subsection (3) of section 394.916, Florida
  285  Statutes, is amended to read:
  286         394.916 Trial; counsel and experts; indigent persons;
  287  jury.—
  288         (3) At all adversarial proceedings under this act, the
  289  person subject to this act is entitled to the assistance of
  290  counsel, and, if the person is indigent, the court shall appoint
  291  the public defender or, if a conflict exists, the court shall
  292  appoint a criminal conflict and civil regional counsel or other
  293  counsel to assist the person.
  294         Section 10. Paragraph (d) of subsection (2) of section
  295  744.331, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  296         744.331 Procedures to determine incapacity.—
  298         (d) An attorney seeking to be appointed by a court for
  299  incapacity and guardianship proceedings must have completed a
  300  minimum of 8 hours of education in guardianship. A court may
  301  waive the initial training requirement for an attorney who has
  302  served as a court-appointed attorney in incapacity proceedings
  303  or as an attorney of record for guardians for not less than 3
  304  years. This requirement does not apply to a court-appointed
  305  attorney who is employed by an office of criminal conflict and
  306  civil regional counsel.
  307         Section 11. Paragraph (o) of subsection (3) of section
  308  790.25, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  309         790.25 Lawful ownership, possession, and use of firearms
  310  and other weapons.—
  311         (3) LAWFUL USES.—The provisions of ss. 790.053 and 790.06
  312  do not apply in the following instances, and, despite such
  313  sections, it is lawful for the following persons to own,
  314  possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons,
  315  ammunition, and supplies for lawful purposes:
  316         (o) Investigators employed by the several public defenders
  317  and criminal conflict and civil regional counsels of the state,
  318  while in the performance of actually carrying out official
  319  duties, if provided such investigators:
  320         1. Are employed full time;
  321         2. Meet the official training standards for firearms
  322  established by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training
  323  Commission as provided in s. 943.12(5) and the requirements of
  324  ss. 493.6108(1)(a) and 943.13(1)-(4); and
  325         3. Are individually designated by an affidavit of consent
  326  signed by the employing public defender or regional counsel and
  327  filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which
  328  the employing public defender or regional counsel resides.
  329         Section 12. Paragraph (e) of subsection (3) and subsection
  330  (7) of section 943.053, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  331         943.053 Dissemination of criminal justice information;
  332  fees.—
  333         (3)
  334         (e) The fee per record for criminal history information
  335  provided pursuant to this subsection and s. 943.0542 is $24 per
  336  name submitted, except that the fee for the guardian ad litem
  337  program and vendors of the Department of Children and Families,
  338  the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Agency for Persons with
  339  Disabilities, and the Department of Elderly Affairs is shall be
  340  $8 for each name submitted; the fee for a state criminal history
  341  provided for application processing as required by law to be
  342  performed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  343  is shall be $15 for each name submitted; and the fee for
  344  requests under s. 943.0542, which implements the National Child
  345  Protection Act, is shall be $18 for each volunteer name
  346  submitted. Neither an office The state offices of the public
  347  defender nor an office of criminal conflict and civil regional
  348  counsel may shall not be assessed a fee for Florida criminal
  349  history information or wanted person information.
  350         (7) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the
  351  department shall provide to each office of the public defender
  352  and each criminal conflict and civil regional counsel online
  353  access to criminal records of this state which are not exempt
  354  from disclosure under chapter 119 or confidential under law.
  355  Such access shall be used solely in support of the duties of a
  356  public defender as provided in s. 27.51, a criminal conflict and
  357  civil regional counsel as provided in s. 27.511, or of any
  358  attorney specially assigned as authorized in s. 27.53 in the
  359  representation of any person who is determined indigent as
  360  provided in s. 27.52. The costs of establishing and maintaining
  361  such online access must shall be borne by the office to which
  362  the access has been provided.
  363         Section 13. Paragraph (d) of subsection (2) of section
  364  945.10, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  365         945.10 Confidential information.—
  366         (2) The records and information specified in paragraphs
  367  (1)(a)-(i) may be released as follows unless expressly
  368  prohibited by federal law:
  369         (d) Information specified in paragraph (1)(b) to a public
  370  defender or a criminal conflict and civil regional counsel
  371  representing a defendant, except those portions of the records
  372  containing a victim’s statement or address, or the statement or
  373  address of a relative of the victim. A request for records or
  374  information pursuant to this paragraph need not be in writing.
  376  Records and information released under this subsection remain
  377  confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and
  378  s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution when held by the
  379  receiving person or entity.
  380         Section 14. Subsection (3) of section 945.48, Florida
  381  Statutes, is amended to read:
  382         945.48 Rights of inmates provided mental health treatment;
  383  procedure for involuntary treatment.—
  385  Involuntary mental health treatment of an inmate who refuses
  386  treatment that is deemed to be necessary for the appropriate
  387  care of the inmate and the safety of the inmate or others may be
  388  provided at a mental health treatment facility. The warden of
  389  the institution containing the mental health treatment facility
  390  shall petition the circuit court serving the county in which the
  391  mental health treatment facility is located for an order
  392  authorizing the treatment of the inmate. The inmate shall be
  393  provided with a copy of the petition along with the proposed
  394  treatment; the basis for the proposed treatment; the names of
  395  the examining experts; and the date, time, and location of the
  396  hearing. The inmate may have an attorney represent him or her at
  397  the hearing, and, if the inmate is indigent, the court shall
  398  appoint the office of the public defender to represent the
  399  inmate at the hearing. If the office of the public defender must
  400  withdraw from the appointment due to a conflict, the court must
  401  appoint the criminal conflict and civil regional counsel or
  402  private counsel pursuant to s. 27.40(1) to represent the inmate
  403  at the hearing. An attorney representing the inmate shall have
  404  access to the inmate and any records, including medical or
  405  mental health records, which are relevant to the representation
  406  of the inmate.
  407         Section 15. Subsection (2) of section 985.045, Florida
  408  Statutes, is amended to read:
  409         985.045 Court records.—
  410         (2) The clerk shall keep all official records required by
  411  this section separate from other records of the circuit court,
  412  except those records pertaining to motor vehicle violations,
  413  which shall be forwarded to the Department of Highway Safety and
  414  Motor Vehicles. Except as provided in ss. 943.053 and
  415  985.04(6)(b) and (7), official records required by this chapter
  416  are not open to inspection by the public, but may be inspected
  417  only upon order of the court by persons deemed by the court to
  418  have a proper interest therein, except that a child and the
  419  parents, guardians, or legal custodians of the child and their
  420  attorneys, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Juvenile
  421  Justice and its designees, the Florida Commission on Offender
  422  Review, the Department of Corrections, and the Justice
  423  Administrative Commission shall always have the right to inspect
  424  and copy any official record pertaining to the child. Offices of
  425  the public defender and criminal conflict and civil regional
  426  counsel offices shall have access to official records of
  427  juveniles on whose behalf they are expected to appear in
  428  detention or other hearings before an appointment of
  429  representation. The court may permit authorized representatives
  430  of recognized organizations compiling statistics for proper
  431  purposes to inspect, and make abstracts from, official records
  432  under whatever conditions upon the use and disposition of such
  433  records the court may deem proper and may punish by contempt
  434  proceedings any violation of those conditions.
  435         Section 16. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.