Mission and Policy
TO CHAMPION THE ACCUSED WITH THE UTMOST PROFESSIONALISM AND HUMANITY
In 1963 the US Supreme Court heard the case of Gideon v. Wainwright. In its decision the Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights requires the government to provide free legal counsel to indigent defendants in criminal cases. In response to this ruling, Florida created the Office of the Public Defender.
Today there are 20 elected Public Defenders representing the 20 different judicial circuits of Florida. Each elected Public Defender employs several attorneys to represent court appointed clients who meet approved poverty guidelines. The Public Defender’s Office only handles criminal cases, or in some cases, indirect criminal contempt matters where the individual may face incarceration.
The attorneys who work at the Public Defender’s Office are some of the most dedicated criminal defense attorneys in the State of Florida. The attorneys who choose to represent the indigent believe that all individuals should have a right to proper representation. Public Defenders believe in the Constitution, due process and the rights of each individual client.
It is the policy of this office to champion the rights of each individual client with dignity and respect. We will zealously advocate justice and protect the constitutional rights of each and every person regardless of race, religion, or social status.
I am a Public Defender.
I am the guardian of the presumption of innocence, due process and fair trial.
To me is entrusted the preservation of those sacred principles.
I will promulgate them with courtesy and respect.
But not with obsequiousness and not with fear, for I am partisan; I am counsel for the defense.
Let none who oppose me forget that with every fiber of my being, I will fight for my clients.
My clients are the indigent accused.
They are the lonely, the friendless.
There is no one to speak for them, but me.
My voice will be raised in their defense.
I will resolve all doubt in their favor.
This is my credo; this and the Golden rule.
I will seek acclaim and approval only from my own conscience.
And if upon my death there are a few lonely people who have benefited, my efforts will not have been in vain.
James J. Doherty, Former Public Defender,
Cook County, Chicago, Illinois