Ita Neymotin and colleagues speak at DCF’s Child Protection Summit

Regional Counsel Ita Neymotin, along with four staff attorneys from the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel of the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, recently presented a workshop titled “Effectively and Ethically Representing Parents with Mental Health Diagnoses” at the Department of Children and Families’ annual Child Protection Summit. For her part of the presentation, Neymotin, who is Chair of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel, focused on professionalism and the great benefits it has brought and continues to bring to our justice system.

Following the death of five-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck, who died after her father dropped her from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, DCF announced changes to its hotline protocol. The tragedy also brought the mental stability of parents and the responsibilities of parents’ attorneys to their clients to the forefront of legal discussion among child welfare attorneys. The Regional Counsels’ seminar examined appropriate and compassionate communication between parents’ attorneys and clients and effective representation of parents with mental health diagnoses. The workshop also included an examination of when an attorney “must” or “may” report behaviors.

The Child Protection Summit, held in September, is the largest child welfare event in Florida. The Department of Children and Families estimates nearly 3,000 child welfare professionals and related partners were in attendance, including attorneys, case managers, child advocates, child protective investigators and supervisors, Child Protection Team staff, child welfare trainers, court staff, DCF staff, foster and adoptive parents, guardians ad litem, judges, law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals, service providers and youth.

Attorney Ita Neymotin, the Regional Counsel of the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel of the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, has been delivering talks across Florida highlighting the importance of Professionalism in the courts. This summer she was invited to represent the Twentieth Judicial Circuit at the Florida Bar Annual Convention, Supreme Court Committee meeting on Professionalism, chaired by the Honorable Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis.

Neymotin is the youngest attorney, and the first woman, appointed as Regional Counsel in the State of Florida. In that position she is responsible for the 14 counties that make up the Second District Court of Appeal, managing 140 attorneys and support staff with an annual budget that exceeds $9 million. The Regional Counsel defends parties when the Public Defender’s office has a conflict in a case. The office also represents indigent clients in juvenile dependency as well as certain types of civil cases. Neymotin is responsible for the counties including Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties.

Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
Second District Court of Appeal, Florida
In 2011, Ita Neymotin was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to lead The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (OCCCRC) of the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida. It is one of five regional counsel offices created by the legislature in 2007 to provide legal representation to indigent persons in criminal cases in which the court grants the Public Defender’s motion to withdraw and appoints the OCCRC, in dependency and civil cases, and certain statutorily authorized civil commitment proceedings. OCCCRC also handles appeals and post conviction motions. As noted under Statute 27.511, the Florida Legislature states “it is the intent of the Legislature to provide adequate representation in a fiscally sound manner, while safeguarding constitutional principles.” Over the last few years, the Regional Counsel offices have saved Florida taxpayers millions of dollars while providing quality representation to its clients. For more information visit flrc2.org.