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Criminal Law Certification.

The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal trial specialists or appellate specialists recognized by The Florida Bar and for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process includes the following requirements: satisfactory peer review references, passing the certification examination (initial applicants only), substantial involvement in either criminal appellate law or criminal trial law; and a handling of either appellate actions or trials. For initial criminal appellate applicants, representation of at least 25 appellate actions; for recertification criminal appellate applicants, representation of at least 10 appellate actions; for initial criminal trial applicants, at least 25 contested criminal cases with 20 jury trials tried to a verdict, 15 of which involved a felony charge, 10 as lead counsel, and five that occurred within the five years preceding application. For recertification, criminal trial applicants: at least five contested criminal cases, with four that were before a jury, and three that involved a felony charge.

As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida criminal lawyers. The committee is comprised of 12 geographically diverse, board certified attorneys who practice in a variety of areas, including criminal trial, criminal appellate, criminal prosecution, and criminal defense. The committee consists of government attorneys, public defenders, and private practitioners. The committee began drafting the 2019 examination in August 2018 and met in October 2018 to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees' improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar.

Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams contain five essay questions and 50 multiple-choice questions addressing procedural and substantive law in both state and federal court. The exam is written to assess a criminal lawyer's fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 17 in Tampa, applicants will answer these questions in two, three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.

At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2019 examinations. The committee grades the examinations on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to committee members only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a certified attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a criminal appellate law board certified specialist or criminal trial law board certified specialist.

Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 442 are currently board certified in criminal trial law and 47 are board certified in criminal appellate law. Forty-four attorneys applied to take the 2019 criminal trial law certification exam. Fourteen of these applicants submitted "abbreviated applications" after either failure or nonattendance at the 2018 exam. Five attorneys applied to take the 2019 criminal appellate law certification exam, one of which was an abbreviated application. This year the committee also reviewed 83 criminal trial recertification applications and nine criminal appellate recertification applications.

The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer-review process. Without candid commentary from applicants' peers, the committee's ability to properly review applicants' qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.

This year the committee worked to finalize a proposed rule amendment to Rule Chapter 6-8 "Standards for Board Certification in Criminal Law," which has been submitted for review to the Criminal Law Section. One feature of the rule amendment is to expand the types of hearings and/or cases that may be considered for trial or appellate action for initial certification or recertification.

It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Michael Ufferman (vice chair), Huda Alani, Lawrence Avallone, Judge William Burgess III, Andrew Carrabis, Pamela Koller, Lisa McLean, Melynda Melear, Christina Pacheco, Michael Salnick, and Jessica Travis. None of our work could have been accomplished without our staff liaison, Sheila Whaley, who will be sorely missed. I thank everyone for all their hard work and great effort.

Ilana Marcus, Chair
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Title Annotation:Annual Reports of Committees of the Florida Bar: 2018-2019
Author:Marcus, Ilana
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Date:May 1, 2019
Words:724
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