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June 15, 2014
Those handling felonies will soon need additional training

Starting in two years, lawyers handling felony criminal cases must have completed a two-hour CLE course on discovery and their responsibilities under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brady ruling, the Florida Supreme Court has decided.

The court on May 15 approved new Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.113, which was proposed, at the court’s request, by the Criminal Court Steering Committee.

“Rule 3.113 is intended to implement the Florida Innocence Commission’s recommendation that the criminal rules be amended to require that any attorney who is practicing law in a felony case complete at least a two-hour course regarding the law of discovery and Brady responsibilities,” the court said in its unanimous per curiam ruling.

In order to ensure there are enough qualified counsel, the court made the rule effective on May 16, 2016. It also said that trial judges can remove unqualified counsel from cases and should make sure that lawyers they appoint to cases have complied with the rule.

The new rule reads: “Before an attorney may participate as counsel of record in the circuit court for any adult felony case, including postconviction proceedings before the trial court, the attorney must complete a course, approved by The Florida Bar for continuing legal education credits, of at least 100 minutes and covering the legal and ethical obligations of discovery in a criminal case, including the requirements of rule 3.220, and the principles established in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).”

In the Brady decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that prosecutors could not withhold material exculpatory evidence from the defense.

Commentary for the new rules notes that the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Florida Public Defender Association are expected to develop a seminar to comply with the rule, which will be approved by the Bar for the necessary CLE credit. The commentary also says that seminar should be available at no cost on the Bar’s, FPAA’s, and FPDA’s websites.

The court acted in In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure — Rule 3.113, case no. SC 13-552.

[Revised: 11-26-2014]