Regional Counsel Ita M. Neymotin, former Florida Bar Counsel Henry Lee Paul and the Lee County Bar Association recently hosted an intensive five-hour seminar on Professionalism in Florida Courts featuring Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis as its guest speaker. About 150 attendees, including attorneys, 20 judges, community leaders and even one foreign dignitary were at the December event, which offered a special focus on legal ethics and provided continuing legal education credits to lawyers and continuing judicial credits to members of the bench. This seminar was also attended by Dean Rachel Janutis of Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, Dean Alexander Acosta of Florida International University College of Law and Dean Kevin Cieply of Ave Maria Law School.
In addition to Neymotin and Paul, presenters included Mayor Randall P. Henderson Jr., Twentieth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Michael T. McHugh, 2016 Lee County Bar Association President Scott Atwood and past Twentieth Judicial Circuit Peer Review Panel Chair Jason Hunter Korn. Expert speakers also included several of Neymotin’s Assistant Regional Counsels, including Homicide Division Chief Byron Hileman, Death Penalty Division Manager Chris Boldt and Karen Meeks of the Death Penalty Division.
Justice Lewis, who became chair of the Supreme Court’s Professionalism Commission in 2013, outlined the history of professionalism development efforts in the Florida courts, described its progression over time and highlighted his role in the process. He concluded that while much meaningful progress has been made to more fully realize the aspirations of the third branch of government and elevate the prestige of the legal profession, there is always more room for improvement. The most powerful approach, he said, starts with examining the underlying causes of unprofessional behavior that occurs in the legal system.
The Charge d’Affaires of Belarus, Pavel Shidlovsky, traveled to Fort Myers from the Belarusian Embassy in Washington D.C. to attend this event, a testament to the continuing friendship and mutual respect between the two countries that was established by the signing of a Sister City Agreement in June of 2016. Mr. Shidlovsky was instrumental, with Neymotin, Mayor Henderson and Deputy Chairman Boleslav Pirshtuk of the Regional Executive Committee of Belarus’ Gomel Region, in establishing the historic agreement between Fort Myers and Gomel.
While serving as Regional Counsel for the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the Second District Court of Appeal Region, Neymotin is also chair of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Local Professionalism Panel and a member of the Confidentiality and Public Records Sub-Committee in the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. The Professionalism in Florida Courts seminar represents just part of her continuing efforts to highlight professionalism issues, which includes frequent speaking engagements across the state and presentations by and for her Regional Counsel staff. She is also a volunteer adjunct professor at Ave Maria School of Law where she teaches Advanced Florida Criminal Law and Procedure.
Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
Second District Court of Appeal, Florida
Ita Neymotin, Regional Counsel was appointed by Governor Rick Scott in 2011 and reappointed March 15, 2016 to lead The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Second District Court of Appeal (OCCCRC2). 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 OCCCRC2, in dependency and civil cases, and certain statutorily authorized civil commitment proceedings. OCCCRC2 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.” Regional Counsel saves millions of taxpayer dollars every year while providing quality representation to its clients. For more information visit www.flrc2.org.