Brief of Amicus Curiae for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Florida Public Defender Association.
Argument: It violates the accused’s constitutional rights to be forced to have a probation violation hearings via Zoom or other remote means. The practice offends the right to be present (in the courtroom before the judge, with witnesses, with the accused’s own counsel) and ignores certain provisions in the Criminal Procedure. Because counsel is remote, it also offends the right to effective assistance of counsel. By way of background: The circumstance of forced remote probation hearings has arisen in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Supreme Court of Florida issued a vast administrative order basically suspending any Florida Rule of Procedure that prohibited remote proceedings. The administrative order permits pleas, status conferences, and motion practice by Zoom.