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September 1, 2013
Award winners

HOGAN LOVELLS MIAMI PARTNERS, from the left, Laura Besvinick and Julie Nevins, 11th Circuit PD Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade Executive Assistant PD and General Counsel Rory Stein, Hogan Lovells partner Alvin Lindsay, and Assistant PD John Morrison.

FPDA honors the Hogan Lovells firm

The Florida Public Defender Association awarded the L. Clayton Nance Award to Parker Thomson and the Hogan Lovells law firm for representing the 11th Circuit Public Defender’s Office pro bono for five years in litigation over excessive caseloads.

The caseloads — which on average were 500 noncapital felony cases per attorney per year — impaired PD-11’s ability to meet the state’s obligation to provide its indigent clients with effective assistance of counsel, as required by the U.S. and Florida constitutions, and to provide competent, diligent, and conflict-free representation, as required by the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. After dedicating more than 3,600 hours to the project, Thomson and other lawyers from the Miami office prevailed before the Florida Supreme Court.

In nominating Thomson and the Hogan Lovells law firm, Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez said: “During the difficult economic times that private law firms endured, Hogan could have said they had reached their limit. They did not. While we are deeply grateful for all that they have done on behalf of our clients and public defenders, their work will have much broader impact for years to come. Parker and the Hogan firm fought to uphold the highest ideals of our country and our profession, and they won. We could have never brought and persevered in this litigation without their help. They have soldiered on without asking for anything in return. In fact, Parker and his team are fond of saying they were honored and privileged to be of service to us and our cause.”

Thomson, who had a sudden conflict and could not attend the awards ceremony in Palm Beach Gardens, delivered remarks via video. In an earlier interview with the News, Thomson said he took the case “because it’s extraordinarily important that we have a justice system that is just.”

Other award winners from the FPDA were:

Tenth Circuit Assistant Public Defender Howardene Garrett and Seventh Circuit PD appellate attorney Christopher Quarles, co-winners of the Craig Stewart Barnard Outstanding Service Award.

Allen Smith was honored as Investigator of the Year, nominated by 17th Circuit PD Howard Finkelstein, who said: “He used his vast experience as a good cop and exposed bad cops and bad police work.”

Rosemary Gunnels, office manager of the Sixth Circuit PD, won the Holly Marie Stutz Outstanding Administrative Award, and Michelle McNamara in the 13th Circuit won Support Staff Employee of the Year.

[Revised: 03-16-2017]