Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shirk releases annual report

Several accomplishments and highlights of 2010 supporting Mr. Shirk’s three-pronged

approach to leadership as Public Defender follow:

1. Efficient, fiscally responsible management

The Office formalized the Resource Recovery Program which complies with Florida Statute 27.52(1). It includes collection of the Indigency Application fee and additional costs related to a case. In 2010, it collected $732,239 a 61.9% increase from the previous year.

Public Defender Jail Video System was developed by PD Information Technology staff to enable secure video conferencing capability for attorneys and detained clients. It costs less than half of the previously used, proprietary system and is being expanded in both Clay and Duval County jail. PDJVS improves efficiency for attorneys and enhances jail security; it will save an estimated $125,000 in the 4th Circuit.

A Digital Deposition system was implemented to replace live, pre-trial court reporters in many cases. Estimates indicate this will save taxpayers nearly $200K per year in per diem and printing costs.

Benefits of the unique, PD Pro Bono Opportunities program include cost savings per case, better attention to clients and local Bar diversification. Private attorneys are trained and take PD cases at no cost. An estimated 30 local attorneys enlisted in the Program, some of whom handled multiple cases.

Se Habla Espanol To cut costs hiring Spanish translators and still serve multi-cultural clientele, the Office increased the number of bi-lingual employees by hiring three new attorneys who are fluent in Spanish. Two new APD’s joined the Felony Court Unit and one joined the Juvenile Unit. Investigations and Support Staff also have bi-lingual personnel.

Due to Legislative cuts to Florida PD’s a 6% cut to Office vendors was imposed in February and remains in place. No interruption of office functions occurred and only handful of the hundreds of vendors chose not to continue their association with the office.

At the end of the State Fiscal Year 2010, the Office carried over $366,452 in surplus funding. The unlikely budget surplus came as unforeseen budget cuts were imposed. In 2009 there had been a 2% cut to the General Revenue (salaries and benefits) fund for state agencies and in 2010 the State swept 11.2% from the Due Process fund allotted to the Public Defender.

The Shirk Administration continued to reduce government waste and in 2010 cut more than $162,000 from discretionary operating costs.

2. Quality, effective client advocacy

In the courtroom...The Office win-percentage at trial has grown from 12% in 2008 to 20% in 2010.

APD’s won acquittals in 51 of the 257 jury trials in 2010.

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