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Two Florida lawyers honored for defending voting rights

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Cecile Scoon and Nellie King

Cecile Scoon and Nellie King.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers members Nellie King of West Palm Beach, Seth Chazin of San Francisco, and Ramon de la Cabada of Miami were presented the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) David King Defender of Democracy Award at the organization’s 2024 Lobby Days Gala at the Woman’s Club of Tallahassee.

The award recognizes “extraordinary efforts by individuals in advancing democratic ideals and protecting citizens’ constitutional rights.” The award is named in honor of Winter Park lawyer David B. King, one of the 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 le Cabada, was formed to “combat 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.”  According to the League of Women Voters of Florida, many of the returning citizens impacted by voter arrests 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 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,” the League of Women Voters of Florida said in a press release.

Cecile Scoon and Debbie Chandler, co-Presidents of LWVFL, presented the award to King, Chazin, and de le Cabada for “going above and beyond in the defense of democracy and in their commitment to increasing civic engagement and the voting rights of all Floridians.”

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