Lewis, et al. v. Leon County, et al.Annotate this Case
Twenty-six Florida counties and the Florida Association of Counties filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that section 19 of the Laws of Florida (Act) was unconstitutional. The district court affirmed the trial court's decision and held that section 19 of the Act unconstitutionally shifted the responsibility to fund certain costs of court-appointed counsel from the state to the counties in violation of article V, section 14, of the Florida Constitution and that section 19 was unconstitutional based on the Legislature's failure to make the constitutionally required determination of an important state interest, as provided by article VII, section 18(a) of the constitution. The court agreed with the district court and the circuit court that the plain language of article V, section 14 provided that the state was responsible for funding the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (RCC), including the overhead costs outlined in subsection (c). The court held that, based on its determination that the district court correctly held that section 19 was unconstitutional under article V, section 14, the court concluded that it was unnecessary to address whether section 19 violated article VII, section 18(a) of the constitution.