Former Senator and current Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett and legal professionalism expert Jason Hunter Korn recently joined Regional Counsel Ita Neymotin in Sarasota to present a day of continuing legal education training for her staff attorneys. In addition to leading the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (OCCCRC) for Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals Region, Neymotin is Chair of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel and a sought-after speaker on professionalism.
Neymotin was granted four Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit units from The Florida Bar for her presentation “Professionalism in Florida Courts.” The comprehensive CLE workshop covers the history of professionalism committees in Florida from 1993 through the present, provides an overview of standards established by various governing bodies and puts forth general principles and expectations that apply to all attorneys, whether in public or private practice. It also enumerates guidelines for specific circumstances that attorneys may encounter while serving papers, requesting continuances, communicating with adversaries, deposing parties, submitting affidavits, comporting one’s self in the courtroom and many other facets of their role.
Jason Hunter Korn’s CLE, titled “Professionalism Expectations for the Florida Lawyer,” provided a comprehensive overview of professionalism standards peppered with cultural references demonstrating dos and don’ts from sources ranging from “The Rainmaker” to Atticus Finch to “My Cousin Vinny” to “Seinfeld.” A Director of Cohen & Grigsby, Korn is a member of The Florida Bar Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law, arbitrator for The Florida Bar Grievance & Fee Arbitration Program, and a member of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee since 2012.
In his talk, guest speaker Mike Bennett emphasized the wisdom of repealing mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles and those charged with non-violent drug possession crimes, bolstered the argument for restoration of civil rights upon release from prison and called for support of drug court and other diversionary programs. He offered a personal story of having been diverted into the military by a judge for reparation for a minor criminal offense, where he served four terms of Vietnam. Under mandatory minimums, Bennett argued, judges don’t enjoy such discretion.
Neymotin 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. She recently presented on representing parents with mental health diagnoses at the Department of Children and Families’ annual Child Protection Summit. She also visited officials in Ukraine upon that government’s invitation for an in-depth consultation to improve its track record of justice and human rights.
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.
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.