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ABA Offers Conclusions on Public Defender Workloads to Florida Supreme Court

CHICAGO, Jan. 4, 2012 – In an amicus brief filed in Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida v. The State of Florida, the _ offers its conclusions to the Florida Supreme Court on public defender ethical obligations when faced with excessive workloads. The brief takes no position on the factual arguments in the case.

The brief focuses on two ABA documents, which are also provided in appendices:

  • The ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 06-441, “Ethical Obligations of Lawyers Who Represent Indigent Criminal Defendants When Excessive Caseloads Interfere With Competent and Diligent Representation,” and
  • The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants’ “Eight Guidelines of Public Defense Related to Excessive Workloads.”

The ABA discusses how requiring proof of an actual ethical violation and injury to the client before awarding relief from an excessive caseload would effectively require a lawyer to breach the lawyer’s ethical duties to the client.

The ABA also maintains that requiring a showing that individual lawyers are providing inadequate representation would breach the public defense organization’s ethical obligations.

The brief is available online here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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