TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Attorneys Nellie King (West Palm Beach), Seth Chazin (San Francisco), and Ramon de la Cabada (Miami), representing the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), have been presented the League of Women Voters of Florida David King Defender of Democracy Award at the organization’s 2024 Legislative Gala. The award recognizes extraordinary efforts by individuals in advancing democratic ideals and protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. The award’s namesake stems from notable lawyer David B. King of Winter Park, one of the key defenders of the 2010 Fair Districts Amendments approved by Florida’s voters in an effort to reduce gerrymandering.
King, the immediate past president of NACDL, formed a task force on the criminalization of voting rights. The task force, co-chaired by Chazin and de la Cabada, combats the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of individuals with past felony convictions for registering to vote, casting ballots, or seeking to register while ineligible to vote. Many persons with felony convictions (returning citizens) have been impacted by voter arrests in the state of Florida and believed their rights had been restored, an issue compounded by mixed messaging provided by some county officials regarding voter eligibility status.
The award recognized the efforts of the NACDL task force in recruiting lawyers to represent impacted citizens pro bono, developing training initiatives for lawyers defending these cases, drafting pleadings for defense lawyers challenging these arrests, creating a voter arrest law student internship program, educating the public, and implementing a media strategy to balance messaging around voter arrests and prosecutions.
Cecile M. Scoon, Esq. and Debbie Chandler, Esq., co-presidents of LWVFL, presented the award for the commitment and dedication shown by King, Chazin, and de le Cabada. Recipients are going above and beyond in the defense of democracy and in their commitment to increasing civic engagement and the voting rights of all Floridians.
In accepting the award, King stated: “Not far from here, the State’s Capitol, those who claim to represent and serve all Floridians are scheming, strategizing, and circulating ideas on how to ramp up, package, and codify their unprecedented assault on our democracy and core values. Like a bully on a playground, the formalization of these anti-voter tactics, including the arrest and prosecution of innocent citizens, must be stopped. NACDL’s Task Force on the Criminalization of Voting Rights is a force to be reckoned with, representing an offensive strike to these measures which disproportionately impact communities of color and the disadvantaged.”