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Deviney Death Row Trial Indefinitely Delayed

Thanks to conflict of interest concerns within the public defender’s office, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee has indefinitely delayed the start of the much-publicized death-penalty case of Randall Deviney.

The Crime

Deviney is facing death row for robbing, beating, stabbing, and eventually killing his neighbor, 65-year old Delores Futrell, on August 5, 2008. He was found guilty and the jury sentenced him to death in 2010. The conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Florida Supreme Court who held that his confession was coerced, because police did not stop their questioning of Deviney after he invoked his right to remain silent.

The Confusion

Deviney was scheduled to be retried this winter. However, there have been conflicts within the public defender’s office that have resulted in the trial being indefinitely delayed. The office of Public Defender Matt Shirk was providing criminal defense attorneys to Randall Deviney and another death-penalty defendant Donald James Smith. Smith is charged with the first degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. Shirk’s office has claimed there is a conflict of interest with Deviney and another death-penalty client, most likely Smith. While this has not been officially confirmed by the public defender’s office, it is believed Smith may have incriminating evidence against Deviney and thus Shirk’s office cannot continue to represent Deviney in his trial.

The Delay

The attorney general, however, maintains that there is no conflict of interest because the state does not need the evidence of either defendant (with regards to the other) to move the criminal case forward. This simply means the prosecutors believe their case is strong enough without this additional mystery evidence. The circuit court agreed with the attorney general’s office and the Deviney trial was scheduled to start January 5th. However, because Shirk’s office appealed the decision, the case has been put on hold while the appellate court makes a determination. This means that Deviney’s trial will most likely be delayed to at least May 2015. If the court rules that the public defender’s office must be removed from one or both cases, the defendants – both of whom are indigent – will 1) receive counsel from the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel; or 2) receive counsel from private attorneys who are on contract with the state.

The Problem

Attorney ethics requires an attorney remove him/herself from a case if there is a conflict of interest with another client. The public defender’s office of a given region takes on countless criminal defense cases, so overlap or conflict of interest such as what is happening in this situation is bound to happen. This happens just as much in big cities, such as Miami, and in small towns throughout the sunshine state. For example, from 2010 to 2011, the public defenders of Florida were involved in 870 capital cases and 318,914 non-capital cases. They were also involved in 22,033 trials. The sheer number of cases makes it inevitable for conflicts to occur.

This is why it is so important to hire an experience criminal defense attorney if you can. There will be limited chance of conflict and often that determination is made early in the process.

Let Me Defend You Today

Do you need help in your criminal case? Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend your rights in federal or Florida state court? Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss any criminal defense matter. We have locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and are prepared to help you in any way that we can.

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