September 20, 2020
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_h7161e1
CS/HB 7161

1
A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to court-appointed counsel; amending s.
3938.29, F.S.; specifying that a lien for the cost of
4court-appointed counsel against a parent for services
5provided to a child does not expire upon the emancipation
6of the child or upon the child reaching the age of
7majority; amending s. 57.082, F.S.; clarifying proceedings
8in which a party may qualify for court-appointed counsel;
9revising provisions relating to the payment of an
10application fee by a person eligible for court-appointed
11counsel; amending s. 39.0134, F.S.; revising a cross-
12reference relating to enforcement of liens for court-
13ordered payment of attorney's fees and costs; specifying
14circumstances under which a parent receiving assistance of
15appointed counsel shall be liable for payment of an
16application fee and attorney's fees and costs; providing
17for payment of such fees and costs; providing for deposit
18and disposition of fee proceeds; amending s. 28.246, F.S.;
19providing that a clerk of court must provide certain
20information to an attorney or collection agent employed by
21the clerk to collect a debt owed to the clerk; providing
22an effective date.
23
24Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
25
26     Section 1.  Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
27938.29, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
28     938.29  Legal assistance; lien for payment of attorney's
29fees or costs.-
30     (2)
31     (b)  A judgment showing the name and residence of the
32defendant-recipient or parent shall be recorded in the public
33record, without cost, by the clerk of the circuit court in the
34county where the defendant-recipient or parent resides and in
35each county in which such defendant-recipient or parent then
36owns or later acquires any property. Such judgments shall be
37enforced on behalf of the state by the clerk of the circuit
38court of the county in which assistance was rendered. The lien
39against a parent shall remain in force notwithstanding the child
40becoming emancipated or the child reaching the age of majority.
41     Section 2.  Paragraph (d) of subsection (1) and subsection
42(5) of section 57.082, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
43     57.082  Determination of civil indigent status.-
44     (1)  APPLICATION TO THE CLERK.-A person seeking appointment
45of an attorney in a civil case eligible for court-appointed
46counsel, or seeking relief from payment of filing fees and
47prepayment of costs under s. 57.081, based upon an inability to
48pay must apply to the clerk of the court for a determination of
49civil indigent status using an application form developed by the
50Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation with final
51approval by the Supreme Court.
52     (d)  A person who seeks appointment of an attorney in a
53case under chapter 39 proceeding, at shelter or during the
54adjudicatory process, during the judicial review process, upon
55the filing of a termination of parental rights petition, or upon
56the filing of any appeal, or if an appointed attorney is
57requested in a reopened proceeding, at the trial or appellate
58level, for which an indigent person is eligible for court-
59appointed representation, shall pay a $50 application fee to the
60clerk for each application filed. The applicant shall pay the
61fee within 7 days after submitting the application. If the fee
62is not paid within 7 days, the court shall enter an order
63requiring payment and the clerk shall pursue collection under s.
6428.246. The clerk shall transfer monthly all application fees
65collected under this paragraph to the Department of Revenue for
66deposit into the Indigent Civil Defense Trust Fund, to be used
67as appropriated by the Legislature. The clerk may retain 10
68percent of application fees collected monthly for administrative
69costs prior to remitting the remainder to the Department of
70Revenue. A person found to be indigent may not be refused
71counsel. If the person cannot pay the application fee, the clerk
72shall enroll the person in a payment plan pursuant to s. 28.246.
73     (5)  APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL.-In appointing counsel after a
74determination that a person is indigent under this section, the
75court shall order that any applicable application fee be paid by
76each person requesting appointment of counsel and first appoint
77the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, as
78provided in s. 27.511, unless specific provision is made in law
79for the appointment of the public defender in the particular
80civil proceeding.
81     Section 3.  Section 39.0134, Florida Statutes, is amended
82to read:
83     39.0134  Appointed counsel; compensation.-If counsel is
84entitled to receive compensation for representation pursuant to
85a court appointment in a dependency proceeding or a termination
86of parental rights proceeding pursuant to this chapter,
87compensation shall be paid in accordance with s. 27.5304. The
88state may acquire and enforce a lien upon court-ordered payment
89of attorney's fees and costs in accordance with s. 938.29(2)
90984.08.
91     (1)  A parent whose child is dependent, whether or not
92adjudication was withheld, or whose parental rights are
93terminated, and who has received the assistance of the office of
94criminal conflict and civil regional counsel or any other court-
95appointed counsel or has received due process services after
96being found indigent for costs under s. 57.082 shall be liable
97for payment of the assessed application fee under s. 57.082,
98together with reasonable attorney's fees and costs as determined
99by the court.
100     (2)  If reasonable attorney's fees or costs are assessed,
101payment of the fees or costs may be made part of any case plan
102in dependency proceedings at the court's discretion; however, no
103case plan may remain open for the sole issue of payment of
104attorney's fees or costs. At the court's discretion, a lien upon
105court-ordered payment of attorney's fees and costs may be
106ordered by the court in accordance with s. 938.29(2).
107     (3)  The clerk of the court shall transfer all attorney's
108fees and costs collected under this section monthly to the
109Department of Revenue for deposit in the Indigent Civil Defense
110Trust Fund, subject to legislative appropriations and consistent
111with s. 27.5111.
112     Section 4.  Subsection (6) of section 28.246, Florida
113Statutes, is amended to read:
114     28.246  Payment of court-related fees, charges, and costs;
115partial payments; distribution of funds.-
116     (6)  A clerk of court shall pursue the collection of any
117fees, service charges, fines, court costs, and liens for the
118payment of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to s. 938.29 which
119remain unpaid after 90 days by referring the account to a
120private attorney who is a member in good standing of The Florida
121Bar or collection agent who is registered and in good standing
122pursuant to chapter 559. In pursuing the collection of such
123unpaid financial obligations through a private attorney or
124collection agent, the clerk of the court must have attempted to
125collect the unpaid amount through a collection court,
126collections docket, or other collections process, if any,
127established by the court, find this to be cost-effective and
128follow any applicable procurement practices. The collection fee,
129including any reasonable attorney's fee, paid to any attorney or
130collection agent retained by the clerk may be added to the
131balance owed in an amount not to exceed 40 percent of the amount
132owed at the time the account is referred to the attorney or
133agent for collection. The clerk shall, upon request, give the
134private attorney or collection agent any financial affidavit,
135application for the appointment of court appointed counsel,
136order appointing counsel due to indigency, or other document or
137information that would assist in the collections,
138notwithstanding whether or not the court file is otherwise
139confidential from disclosure.
140     Section 5.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2010.


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