As Chair of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel, Attorney Ita Neymotin, the Regional Counsel of the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel of the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, has been delivering talks across Florida highlighting the importance of Professionalism in the courts.
Most recently she was invited to represent the Twentieth Judicial Circuit at the Florida Bar Annual Convention, Supreme Court Committee meeting on Professionalism. This meeting was chaired by the Honorable Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis. At this meeting, Neymotin offered insight on advancements in Professionalism that have been made in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit. She also gave an update on Professionalism in the State of Florida and the Twentieth Judicial Circuit at the “Parent Representation in Dependency Court,” a statewide seminar for dependency attorneys hosted in Palm Beach Gardens by her Regional Counsel counterpart in the Fourth District.
Neymotin will be speaking in July at the Republican Club of Solivita in Kissimmee. In August she will speak at the Polk Republican Executive Committee, which meets in Winter Haven. Then she will present to the Fort Myers Republican Women’s Club in September.
Neymotin said, “Enhancing the Professionalism and judicial standards of our justice system is a professional passion I have undertaken.”
At the “Parent Representation in Dependency Court” seminar, Neymotin made the case for Professionalism Standards by explaining how detrimental a lack of those standards are to a justice system.
Neymotin’s viewpoint is derived from her experience in the former Soviet Union. She escaped the oppression of the Soviet Regime as a child, and has always admired and respected the importance of the American Justice System. She did not, however, appreciate the significance of its integral parts until, by invitation of the Ukrainian Government, she returned to Ukraine with the task of providing input on revamping its justice system.
Neymotin, along with Frank Abernathy and other members of the American team, isolated two major issues in the Ukrainian Justice System: the selective administration of laws and prosecution and the lack of appearance of impartiality. Neymotin visited the Grievance Committee for attorneys in Ukraine, which somewhat resembled the Florida Grievance Committee. The Ukrainian version focuses on ensuring propriety of attorneys, who are subject to disciplinary action by the committee, including licensure suspension.
Professionalism Panels are not utilized in the Ukrainian Justice System. As such, the Ukrainian Grievance committee is a disciplinary proceeding and does not offer a peer review similar to those in the Professionalism Panels in Florida. In the American Justice System, decorum in the Courts and respect for colleagues is an integral part of the appearance of impartiality, and these panels ensure a high standard of professionalism.
The Standing Committee of Professionalism of The Florida Bar defines professionalism as:
“Professionalism is the pursuit and practice of the highest ideals and tenets of the legal profession. It embraces far more than simply complying with the minimal standards of professionals conduct. The essential ingredients of professionalism are character, competence, civility, and commitment.”
As she continues her speaking tour, Neymotin aims to help all attorneys adhere to the Standards of Professionalism and to ensure that our Justice System continues to embody the high ideals that Justice Lewis has set forth. In extending a letter of congratulations for Neymotin’s recent Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award from the Capital University Law School, Justice Lewis acknowledged her service to both her school and the legal profession.
Neymotin is the youngest attorney, and the first woman, appointed as Regional Counsel in the State of Florida. In that position she is responsible for the 14 counties that make up the Second District Court of Appeal, managing 140 attorneys and support staff with an annual budget that exceeds $9 million. The Regional Counsel defends parties when the Public Defender’s office has a conflict in a case. The office also represents indigent clients in juvenile dependency as well as certain types of civil cases. Neymotin is responsible for the counties including Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties.
Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
Second District Court of Appeal, Florida
In 2011, Ita Neymotin was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to lead The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (OCCCRC) of the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida. It is one of five regional counsel offices created by the legislature in 2007 to provide legal representation to indigent persons in criminal cases in which the court grants the Public Defender’s motion to withdraw and appoints the OCCRC, in dependency and civil cases, and certain statutorily authorized civil commitment proceedings. OCCCRC also handles appeals and post conviction motions. As noted under Statute 27.511, the Florida Legislature states “it is the intent of the Legislature to provide adequate representation in a fiscally sound manner, while safeguarding constitutional principles.” Over the last few years, the Regional Counsel offices have saved Florida taxpayers millions of dollars while providing quality representation to its clients. For more information visit flrc2.org.