J. Marion Moorman

J. Marion Moorman
255 N. Broadway Avenue - Bartow
Drawer PD, P.O. Box 9000,
Bartow, FL 33831-9000

James Marion Moorman was born in Columbia, South Carolina.  He is a graduate of Stetson University College Of Law.   He spent four years as the Chief Assistant Public Defender for Pasco County and nine years in private practice, specializing in criminal defense law.  Marion has served as an officer of the Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He has taught police standards courses at Polk Community College and Pasco-Hernando Community College, as well as criminal law and juvenile justice courses at St. Leo College and Florida Southern College.  Marion was chosen Outstanding Public Defender, Sixth Circuit in 1976.  He is a member of the Bartow Chamber of Commerce.  Marion is married to Carole Agerton Moorman, and has two children, Jason and Erin.  He was elected Public Defender for the 10th Judicial Circuit for a four year term beginning January 1985, and was re-elected to a fourth term beginning January 1997.  He has served as president of the Florida Public Defender Association and has been active in appropriation efforts for the Association.  He is presently chairman of the Florida Public Defender Association Appellate committee.

The Public Defender's Office is responsible for providing legal counsel, when appointed by the Court, to those accused of criminal offenses who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Many have used Bar review courses to help them get where they are. The office can be appointed to defend individuals charged with felonies, misdemeanors, or criminal traffic offenses in the Circuit and County Courts. It also defends children charged in Juvenile Court, and individuals facing involuntary commitment for mental treatment under the Baker Act. The Public Defender is elected for a four-year term with no limit on the number of terms.

The Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791 as the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, established that persons accused of committing a crime have the right to be represented by lawyers. Since that time the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that right to mean that if a defendant cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent him or her.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the right to counsel applies in all cases where the defendant faces a jail term, no matter if the case is a felony or a misdemeanor. Subsequently, an overwhelming need for lawyers brought about rapid growth in the number of public defenders around the country.

The Public Defender's Credo

I am a Public Defender
I am the guardian of the presumption of
innocence, due process and fair trial.
To me is entrusted the preservation
of those sacred principles.
I will promulgate them with courtesy and respect
but not with obsequiousness and not with fear.
For I am partisan; I am counsel for the defense.
Let none who oppose me forget that
With every fibre of my being I will
fight for my clients.
My clients are the indigent accused,
They are the lonely, the friendless.
My voice will be raised in their defense.
I will resolve all doubt in their favor.
This will be my credo; this and the Golden Rule.
I will seek acclaim and approval
only from my own conscience. And upon
my death, if there are a few lonely people who have benefited,
my efforts will not have been in vain

Jim Doherty
Public Defender
Chicago, Illinois

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