Speedy Trial, Speedy Games
Rule 3.191 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that all persons charged with a crime in the State of Florida are entitled to a speedy trial. In the absence of a demand for a speedy trial, persons charged with a felony are entitled to be brought to trial within 175 days of having been taken into custody1 and persons charged with misdemeanors are entitled to be brought to trial within 90 days of having been taken into custody.2 All defendants with a bona fide desire to obtain a trial sooner than otherwise might be provided can demand the right to be brought to trial within 60 days by filing a demand for speedy trial.3 Upon expiration of the appropriate time period, a defendant may file a notice of expiration of speedy trial time.4 Within five days of receipt of the notice of expiration, the trial court must hold a hearing to determine whether the failure to bring the defendant to trial is attributable to the defendant and, if not, schedule trial within 10 days of the hearing.5 A defendant not brought to trial within this “window” period may be entitled to discharge.6
The purpose of the speedy trial rule is to ensure a speedy trial, not a speedy discharge.7 Nonetheless, there are many examples of attempts to use the speedy trial rule as a means to avoid a trial on the merits.8 This article will discuss judicial treatment of the many games that have been played in the attempt to subvert the intent of the speedy trial rule.
Demand for Speedy Trial, Notice of Expiration, Motion for Discharge
The speedy trial rule currently provides that a defendant “may, at any time after the expiration of the prescribed time period, file a notice of expiration of speedy trial time” to trigger the window period.9 Until the rule was amended in 1992, the pleading filed to invoke the window provision was designated a “motion for discharge.” The 1992 amendment was intended to “differentiate between two separate and distinct pleadings [then] referred to as ‘motion for discharge.’”10 Under the current rule, a notice of expiration, rather than a motion for discharge, is filed after the speedy trial time period has elapsed to put the court and the state on notice that only 15 days remain to bring the defendant to trial. A motion for discharge is filed under the current rule after the window period has expired and there remains no time to bring the defendant to trial. Although the language of the rule now seems straightforward, attempts have been made to use the terms in the rule interchangeably to defeat the purpose of the rule.
In Clark v. State, 698 So. 2d 1274 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997), the defendant filed a petition for writ of prohibition in the appellate court, suggesting that the trial court should have treated his “motion for discharge” as a “notice of expiration” and should have brought him to trial within 15 days of the motion notwithstanding the fact that the motion was not placed on calendar by the defendant (or anyone else) until more than 15 days had elapsed. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s suggestion that the “notice of expiration” and the “motion for discharge” were synonymous pleadings invoking the window period set forth in Rule 3.191(p) and denied the petition. Because a “motion for discharge” may not be granted unless it is well taken when filed, there is no necessity for scheduling a hearing on the motion at any particular time. On the other hand, a properly designated notice “alerts the clerk and the prosecution that the case must immediately be brought to the attention of the court by placing it on calendar within a day or two so that the recapture period may be complied with.”11 The defendant’s actions were characterized by the appellate court as an attempt to “entrap the clerk, the prosecution and the court into depriving [the defendant] of rights which he did not properly assert.12 In Dabkowski v. State, 711 So. 2d 1219, 1220 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), the Fifth District noted that the a defendant “is not entitled to a ‘speedy dismissal,’ but only to a ‘speedy trial’” and also held that a defendant who filed a motion for discharge rather than a notice of expiration was not entitled to discharge.
In State v. Gibson, 783 So. 2d 1155, 1159 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001), the Fifth District rejected the suggestion that a notice of expiration could act as a substitute for a demand for speedy trial pursuant to Rule 3.191(b) because the notice filed by the defendant failed to comport with the requirements of Rule 3.191(b).
Bona Fide Desire for Speedy Trial
Notwithstanding the requirement that a defendant who files a demand for speedy trial have a bona fide desire to obtain a trial sooner than otherwise might be provided, the appellate courts have found that many defendants attempt to use the speedy trial rule to obtain a speedy discharge or dismissal rather than a speedy trial.13 These attempts have been harshly criticized by the courts.14 In one instance, the appellate court suggested that sanctions should be imposed against appellate counsel where “defense counsel’s actions in the county court were so obviously and disingenuously calculated to secure an outright dismissal, rather than either the discovery in question or a speedy trial,” that the appeal constituted “a frivolous attempt to reverse the plainly appropriate rejection of those tactics by both courts below.”15
In State v. Reaves, 609 So. 2d 701 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992), the Fourth District reversed the discharge of three defendants on speedy trial grounds because the record did not demonstrate that the defendants were ready for trial and because the defendants did not demonstrate a bona fide desire for a speedy trial when they filed their demand pursuant to Rule 3.191(a)(2). This conclusion was supported by four facts: 1) the demand referred to Rule 3.191 both in the title and the body of the pleading but did not use the phrase “demand for speedy trial”; 2) the certificate of service reflected delivery to “the State Attorney’s Office” instead of a particular attorney as required by local rule; 3) the defendants subsequently filed a status report detailing the numerous pleadings to be filed and resolved before trial without making any reference to the demand; and 4) the defense attorney admitted he had intentionally attempted to seek discharge under the speedy trial rule without making it “horribly obvious” that his clients were demanding a speedy trial. In considering the claim that the trial court erred in granting the defendants’ demand for discharge, the appellate court concluded that counsel’s acts and omissions “crossed the line for acceptable conduct in the courtroom.”16 The appellate court further noted that:
The right to a speedy trial is an important right. Accused persons should not languish in jail or face unproven charges for an unreasonable length of time. When this right is exercised it should be squarely dealt with and enforced. However, a request pursuant to this right should be presented forthrightly and determined on its merits. In other words, as opposed to not making it “horribly obvious,” the demand should be made loud and clear to both the court and the state. The right is demeaned, and indeed endangered, by those who would seek to use it not as a way to secure a speedy trial, but, rather as a means to avoid a fair and prompt trial on the merits.17
In the court’s opinion, the actions of defense counsel in Reaves were inconsistent with the fact that Rule 3.191 was specifically amended in 1984 to include the phrase “a demand for speedy trial” in an apparent effort to “help insure that all interested parties receive unambiguous notice that the accused was seeking a speedy trial.”18
The Reaves opinion no doubt played a role in the emergency petition filed by the state attorneys for the 17th and 11th judicial circuits requesting that Rule 3.191(b) be amended to include a requirement that the demand for speedy trial be made in a pleading expressly entitled “Demand for Speedy Trial” and that the defendant, not the court, be held responsible for placing the matter on calendar to schedule the trial in a timely manner.19 Although the suggestion that the defendant bear the burden of setting the demand for hearing was rejected, the rule was amended to provide that the demand be made in a pleading entitled “Demand for Speedy Trial.”20
In State v. Velazquez, 802 So. 2d 426, 430 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001), the Third District repeated the sentiments announced by the Fourth District in Reaves when it reversed an order of dismissal on speedy trial grounds with a finding that the defendant did not have a “bona fide desire to obtain a trial sooner than otherwise might be provided” and that the “sole purpose for filing the demand was to sabotage any effort by the state to refile the charges.” The Third District denounced the defense tactics used in Velazquez21 and noted that despite “repeated efforts to discourage the type of chicanery that took place in this case, the demand for a speedy trial continues to be used as a tool to avoid exactly what it is supposed to accelerate—a trial on the merits.” In an attempt to ensure that the true purpose of the rule is achieved, the court in Velazquez requested that the Florida Supreme Court amend Rule 3.191(b) to require service of the “demand for speedy trial” on the prosecuting attorney assigned to represent the state and on the presiding judge.22
The Fifth District has also addressed a defendant’s attempt to use the speedy trial rule to obtain “an early dismissal rather than a speedy trial.”23 Reversing an order granting a writ of prohibition, the Fifth District found that the trial court’s conclusion that the defendant did not have a bona fide desire to obtain a speedy trial was supported by the fact that the defendant waited a full seven days after learning of grounds to recuse the trial judge before filing the motion to disqualify the judge on the morning of trial and the fact that defense counsel went on vacation one day after filing the notice of expiration, leaving the case in the hands of an attorney completely unfamiliar with the case.24
In assessing a defendant’s “bona fide desire” for a speedy trial, the mere filing of pretrial motions cannot support a conclusion that the defendant does not have a bona fide desire to obtain a speedy trial on the merits or that the defendant is not prepared for trial.25
Discovery Violations and the Speedy Trial Rule
Ordinarily, a request for a continuance by the defense results in a waiver of the right to discharge under the speedy trial rule.26 However, where material discovery is furnished at a time which will not enable the defendant to make use of it in the preparation of his or her defense before the expiration of the speedy trial time limits, the court may properly continue the case at the request of the defense and charge the continuance to the state.27 Thus, although a discovery violation by the state will rarely, if ever, justify the extreme sanction of outright dismissal, a continuance charged to the state as a result of a discovery violation could ultimately result in dismissal.28
In State v. Brown, 527 So. 2d 209 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988), the court, in refusing to allow the exception to swallow the rule of waiver, found that the defense had made “what must be called a spurious attempt to seize upon an immaterial, utterly nonprejudicial glitch in the prosecution in order to secure, not the speedy trial which she obviously did not want, but a speedy dismissal which the circuit court erroneously granted” and reversed the order granting a writ of prohibition. The decision in Brown was one in a series of cases in which the defense had improperly attempted to take advantage of the exception announced in State v. Del Gaudio, 445 So. 2d 605 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984).29
The admonishments of the Third District in Brown apparently went unheeded by many defendants in the 11th Judicial Circuit. In Zyla v. Cohen, 686 So. 2d 603, 604 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996), the Third District affirmed the denial of a writ of prohibition in what the court described as “one of a substantial number of cases where ostensible state discovery violations are alleged to have resulted in violation of the speedy trial rule which, in turn, require the discharge of the defendant.” In State v. Harrill, 679 So. 2d 34 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996), the Third District reversed an order granting a writ of prohibition and rejected the suggestion that the trial court erred in refusing to charge the defense-requested continuance to the state as a result of an alleged discovery violation. In State v. Guzman, 697 So. 2d 1263, 1264 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997), the court reversed the entry of a writ of prohibition that followed a discovery violation by the state.
In very strong language, the court stated for “at least the sixteenth time. . . that the rule that a successful defense motion for defense continuance waives the right to discharge under the speedy trial rule. . . applies notwithstanding that the motion follows alleged discovery violations by the state.” Reversal of the writ in Guzman was based on the conclusion that the defendant did not assert his claim to the discovery documents “in a manner consistent with a genuine desire to actually secure them for trial” and the fact that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the discovery violation resulted in cognizable prejudice that could not be corrected within the speedy trial time.
Ruling that any prejudice resulting from the discovery violation could have been cured by a short continuance within the speedy trial time, the appellate court noted that the appropriate remedy was offered by the court and was “quite unsurprisingly” rejected by the defense “in its single-minded quest for a speedy dismissal, rather than the speedy trial it disingenuously stated it wanted.”30
In a different twist on the usual interplay between the speedy trial rule and the discovery rule, the Fourth District held in State v. Trummert, 647 So. 2d 966, 968 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994), that the trial court should not have employed the “extreme sanction of exclusion” of evidence proffered by the state where the prejudice resulting from the state’s negligence could have been cured by a short delay within the speedy trial time period. Although the order of exclusion was reversed because no discovery violation had occurred,31 the court commented that the speedy trial rules were not “to be used to curtail essential trial preparation or to exclude evidence produced by that preparation in the absence of a serious discovery violation.”32
Obligation of Defense to Object to Trial Setting
Although Rule 3.191 expressly states that discharge is appropriate only where the defendant is not brought to trial within the window period “through no fault of the defendant,” the defendant is under no obligation to correct the trial court’s mistaken belief that the trial has been scheduled in a timely manner.33 Noting that the “purpose of the speedy trial rule is to assure a speedy trial, not a speedy discharge,” Judge Cope has opined that it is unreasonable to excuse the defendant from making a contemporaneous objection in this context when a defendant is required to make a contemporaneous objection “to virtually every other trial error.”34 In addition, the soundness of relying on precedent allowing a defendant to stand mute while the trial is erroneously set beyond the prescribed time limit which pre-dates the window period and the requirement that the defendant bear no fault in the failure to bring the defendant to trial in a timely manner has been questioned.35 In fact, the Third District was so bothered by defense counsel’s failure to correct the trial court’s mistaken belief that trial was being set in a timely manner and by the fact that the error in scheduling could easily have been corrected if it had been brought to the trial court’s attention that it asked the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling in Stuart v. State, 360 So. 2d 406 (Fla. 1978), which held that defense counsel had no duty to correct the trial court’s erroneous impression that the trial date as set by the court would be timely.36
Nolle Prosequi, No Action, Other State Action
Game playing by the state has also been condemned by the appellate courts. In State v. Agee, 622 So. 2d 473 (Fla. 1993), the Florida Supreme Court held that the state could not refile charges after it entered a nolle prosequi and the speedy trial period had run.37 The Supreme Court reasoned that “[t]o allow the State to unilaterally toll the running of the speedy trial period by entering a nol pros would eviscerate the rule—a prosecutor with a weak case could simply enter a nol pros while continuing to develop the case and then refile charges based on the same criminal episode months or even years later, thus effectively denying the accused the right to a speedy trial while the State strengthens its case.”38 In Genden v. Fuller, 648 So. 2d 1183 (Fla. 1994), the Florida Supreme Court prohibited the state from effectively tolling the running of the speedy trial time period by entering a “no action” prior to filing of formal charges. In State v. Williams, 791 So. 2d 1088 (Fla. 2001), the Florida Supreme Court made it clear that the state cannot avoid the speedy trial rule by taking no action at all until after the expiration of the speedy trial limits. These cases make it clear that as soon as an individual is taken into custody, the speedy trial clock begins to run and continues to run until the defendant stops the clock or is brought to trial.
The state cannot avoid the mandates of Agee and Genden simply by reinstating the charges before the speedy trial period expires.39 Unless the defendant is in some way notified during the speedy trial time period that the charges against him have been reinstated, the defendant is not required to file a notice of expiration and, if he has not been brought to trial within the window period, move for discharge.40 The window period simply does not apply because to allow the state the advantage of the window period where the defendant does not become aware that charges have been refiled until well after the speedy trial period has expired “would promote the same evils the Supreme Court warned against in Genden and Agee.”41
On the other hand, where a defendant is rearrested within the speedy trial time period, the defendant will not be entitled to automatic discharge upon the filing of a motion and the state will be allowed the 15-day window period to bring the defendant to trial.42
Chapter 71-1(B), Laws of Florida recognized the logistical difficulties in bringing all persons facing criminal charges to trial in a timely manner. In response to these difficulties, the legislature established procedures by which the existence of an emergency situation affecting the ability of the courts to provide persons accused of crimes with a timely trial could be declared by the presiding judge of a judicial circuit.43 Where the existence or duration of an emergency situation was in dispute, the matter was to be brought to the attention of the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.44 The Florida Supreme Court was also directed to create a rule of procedure by which a defendant’s constitutional right to speedy trial could be realized.45 In February 1971, the Florida Supreme Court declared the existence of an emergency necessitating the adoption of rule of procedure through which the right to a speedy trial is guaranteed.46
A review of the evolution and application of the speedy trial rule reveals that the rule is designed to balance the right of the accused to a fair and prompt resolution of the charges with the right of the people to a determination of all accusations on the merits. Recognizing the need to balance the rights of the accused and the state, the Florida Supreme Court has stated “the purpose of our procedural speedy trial rule is to ensure (1) the effective implementation of a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial, and (2) the effective and expeditious prosecution of criminal offenses.”47 Like all valuable tools, the speedy trial rule must be used wisely. Continued game playing by the defense could result in amendments to the rule which would make it more difficult to obtain a speedy trial by demand or a discharge in the event of negligence by the state or the court. Disregard of the rule by the state, of course, results in dismissal of the charges against the defendant. q
1 For purposes of Rule 3.191, a person is taken into custody when the person is arrested as the result of the conduct or criminal episode that gave rise to the crime charged or when the person is served with a notice to appear in lieu of a physical arrest. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(d).
2 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(a).
3 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(b), (g).
4 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(p)(2).
5 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(p)(3).
6 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(p)(3).
7 State v. Thomas, 659 So. 2d 1322, 1324 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1995) (Cope, J., concurring).
8 See, e.g., State v. Guzman, 697 So. 2d 1263, 1265 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997); Moore v. State, 697 So. 2d 569 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997); State v. Harrill, 679 So. 2d 34 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1996); Zyla v. Cohen, 686 So. 2d 603 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1996); Stridiron v. State, 672 So. 2d 871 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1996); State v. Guzman, 667 So. 2d 989 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1996); Colby v. McNeill, 595 So. 2d 115 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1992); State v. Brown, 527 So. 2d 209 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988); Granade v. Ader, 530 So. 2d 1050 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988); Passavant v. State, 523 So. 2d 660 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988) (per curiam); Stemas v. State, 522 So. 2d 401 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988) (per curiam); Prusaski v. State, 522 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988) (per curiam); State v. Wassel, 502 So. 2d 476 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1987); State v. Belien, 379 So. 2d 446 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1980); Homer v. State, 358 So. 2d 1176 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1978).
9 Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191(p)(2).
10 In re Amendments to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, 606 So. 2d 227, 274 (Fla. 1992).
11 Clark, 698 So. 2d at 1275.
13 See, e.g., State v. Velazquez, 802 So. 2d 426 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 2001); State v. Brown, 707 So. 2d 402 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1998); State v. Reaves, 609 So. 2d 701 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1992).
14 See, e.g., State v. Guzman, 697 So. 2d 1263, 1265 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997) (referring to defense tactics often employed in the 11th Judicial Circuit as “speedy trial games” and “Mickey Mousing”); State v. Brown, 527 So. 2d 209 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988) (characterizing defense tactics as “spurious”). See also State v. Velazquez, 802 So. 2d 426, 427 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 2001) (regrettably noting that “Mickey is back”).
15 Kingsbury v. State, 707 So. 2d 426, 427 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1998).
16 Reaves, 609 So. 2d at 706.
17 Id. at 709.
18 Id. at 708.
19 In re Amendment to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191, 615 So. 2d 692, 693 (Fla. 1993).
20 Id. at 693.
21 After negotiating with a particular prosecutor for dismissal of the case, defense counsel was told that the case would be placed on calendar for the announcement of a nolle prosequi. On the morning of the scheduled announcement, defense counsel instructed his investigator to file a demand for speedy trial with the clerk’s office and the state attorney’s office immediately before the scheduled hearing. Notwithstanding that defense counsel had always dealt with the assigned prosecutor, mailing and faxing pleadings to her directly, the demand was served on the general intake desk of the state attorney’s office without any reference to the assigned prosecutor. When the case was called by the court, defense counsel made no mention of the “stealth” pleading that had been filed by his investigator. After the case was dismissed by the state, defense counsel made a point of announcing the time and date on the record in an apparent attempt to establish for the record that the demand had been filed before the case was dismissed. Velazquez, 802 So. 2d at 428–29.
22 Id. at 430.
23 State v. Brown, 707 So. 2d 402 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1998).
24 Id. at 404.
25 State v. Embry, 322 So. 2d 515, 518 (Fla. 1975); Obanion v. State, 496 So. 2d 977 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1986); Perry v. State, 436 So. 2d 426 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1983).
26 Stewart v. State, 491 So. 2d 271 (Fla. 1986); State v. Guzman, 697 So. 2d 1263 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997).
27 State v. Del Gaudio, 445 So. 2d 605, 611–12 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1984); State v. Banks, 349 So. 2d 736 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1977); State ex rel. Gerstein v. Durant, 348 So. 2d 405 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1977).
28 State v. Del Gaudio, 445 So. 2d 605, 611–12 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1984); Vega v. State, 778 So. 2d 505, 507 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 2001) (trial court erred in not charging continuance to the state where the state failed to provide any discovery until the day of trial, and provided incomplete discovery at that); Lobik v. State, 506 So. 2d 1077 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1987) (continuance requested by the defendant should have been charged to the state following the state’s substitution of a key witness who presented a story dramatically different from the story of earlier-listed key witnesses just five days before trial).
29 See State v. Dube, 527 So. 2d 208 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988); Passavant v. State, 523 So. 2d 660 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988); Stemas v. State, 522 So. 2d 401 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988); Prusaski v. State, 522 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1988).
30 Guzman, 697 So. 2d at 1264.
31 See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.220.
32 Trummert, 647 So. 2d at 968.
33 Salzero v. State, 697 So. 2d 553, 555 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997), quashed, 714 So. 2d 445 (Fla. 1998); State v. Thomas, 659 So. 2d 1322 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1995) (Cope, J., concurring).
34 Salzero v. State, 697 So. 2d at 555; State v. Thomas, 659 So. 2d at 1324.
35 State v. Thomas, 659 So. 2d at 1324 n.3. The no-fault requirement was added to Rule 3.191 when the window period was created in 1984. The Florida Bar Re: Amendment to Rules—Criminal Procedure, 462 So. 2d 386, 388 (Fla. 1984).
36 Salzero v. State, 697 So. 2d at 555. This request was rendered moot when Florida Supreme Court held that the error in failing to schedule trial within 10 days of the hearing on the notice of expiration was harmless where the trial was held within 15 days of the notice. State v. Salzero, 714 So. 2d 445, 447 (Fla. 1998).
37 The nolle prosequi in Agee was based upon the fact that the witness was in a coma and the apparent absence of eyewitnesses to the crime. Under these circumstances, the Agee court held that the state should have moved to extend the speedy trial period or refrained from arresting the defendant rather than entering a nolle prosequi. Agee, 622 So. 2d at 475.
38 Id. at 475.
39 Cordero v. State, 686 So. 2d 737, 738 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997); Dedolchow v. State, 675 So. 2d 955, 956 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1996); State v. Morris, 662 So. 2d 378 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1995).
40 Cordero v. State, 686 So. 2d 737, 738 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997); State v. Morris, 662 So. 2d 378 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1995).
41 Cordero, 686 So. 2d at 738.
42 Id. at 737, 738 (Fla. 3d D.C.A. 1997); Diaz v. State, 627 So. 2d 125 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1993).
43 Chapter 71-1(B), §§2-4, Laws of Florida.
44 Chapter 71-1(B), §5, Laws of Florida.
45 Chapter 71-1(B), §6, Laws of Florida.
46 In re Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, 245 So. 2d 33 (Fla. 1971).
47 State v. Jenkins, 389 So. 2d 971, 974 (Fla. 1980).
Angélica D. Zayas is an assistant state attorney in Miami, representing the state in criminal trial and appellate litigation. She received her B.A., cum laude, from the University of Miami in 1985 and her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law in 1989. Ms. Zayas is a member of the Bar’s Appellate Practice and Advocacy, Government Lawyer, and the Criminal Law sections, and of the Cuban American Bar Association.