Are you a Lawyer or a legal volunteer?
Information for Lawyers with questions about how they can help Returning Citizens regain their right to vote.
to register for an introductory cle course on SB 7066 and Background information (2 cle hours)
to register for an advanced cle course that includes draft pleadings (2 additional cle hours)
The League is thrilled that so many lawyers are interested in working together with us on our efforts to assist Returning Citizens to get their rights to vote.
The work required is multi-faceted:
1. Conduct research into the criminal records of returning citizens to determine what if anything is owed on their legal financial obligations. Many people do not know the financial obligations from their sentences because they were focused on incarceration, parole, or probation. With your help, this research will clarify what the client owes, and may also identify criminal offenses that were pled down to misdemeanors or nol-prossed and therefore may not be subject to the voting restrictions that could be created from outstanding fines. We have had numerous citizens be able to vote once an attorney clarified that they were not felons after looking at their court records.
Required experience: None.
Required Training: Online CLE. The introductory CLE would be adequate for the research of records if time is limited.
Required Time Commitment: 1-5 hours per client. If you take only 1 client, that could still be helpful.
2. Representing returning citizens before the court in a motion for modification of their sentence, as allowed by FS 98.0175 (Florida Senate Bill 7066.) This generally involves reviewing the client’s documents relating to the conviction(s) and the fines or fees, discussing the situation with the client, filing a waiver or request for reduction of financial obligation, preparing a motion, proposed order, and other related court documentation. Although you do not need to be a litigator to help on one of these cases, you should be paired up with a litigator if you go to court with the client.
Required experience: None.
Required Training: Online CLE. The advanced CLE would be best to take if time is limited because of the discussion of the intake sheet and draft pleadings.
3. Assisting in Requesting an Advisory Opinion for the Division of Elections. After doing the research as stated above for a petition for modification, you would indicate why an Advisory Opinion was needed.
Examples why an Advisory Opinion may be needed: one might state the reasons why there is confusion about the records; ask which sentencing records should be adhered to if there are conflicting records; or inquire if financial obligations are still owed.
The difference between the two CLE’s is the introductory CLE is historical and covers the impact of SB7066 and covers the pathways of sentence modification in general terms. The introductory CLE has been approved by the Florida Bar for 2 hours CLE. The advanced CLE is more “hands on” with discussion of draft pleadings and more detailed focus on the proposed intake sheet to be used when gathering information from the returning citizen. It has also been approved by the Florida Bar for a total of 2 hours CLE with .5 hours of Implicit Bias
If an attorney has limited time for training then they could take one CLE as stated above, but it would be beneficial to take both CLE’s.
To help us on this project attorneys and paralegals need no prior experience. Also, lawyers without a Florida Bar license and paralegals could do all of the work except go into court. The Bar indicated that a Florida lawyer should review the opinion about what is needed to vote and to review all pleadings before they are filed.
The CLE webinars are presented by Cecile M. Scoon, Esq, (President of the League of Women Voters of Florida and Action Chair on Returning Citizen matters). Scoon is a practicing attorney who specializes in civil rights and employment discrimination cases representing employees.
The “advanced” webinar features Professor Carla Laroche of the Florida State University College of Law. Professor Laroche directs and teaches in the Gender and Family Justice Clinic within our Public Interest Law Center. Before joining FSU Law, Professor Laroche served as a fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Tallahassee.
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