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Al's Legal Corner - Did You Know?

Question: What is an Executive Assignment?

Answer: An Executive Assignment is when the Governor appoints a State Attorney from a completely different Judicial Circuit jurisdiction to handle a case being prosecuted in the 14th Judicial Circuit. The effect of such is that it completely removes politics and any other potential conflict of interest from a case, as a State Attorney from a completely different part of Florida brings an independent set of eyes to review the evidence and determine whether to prosecute a violation of Florida law.

Such is common when the Defendant is an employee of the State Attorney's Office, a family member of an employee of the State Attorney's Office, a member of the law enforcement community whose cases are prosecuted by the State Attorney's Office, or even a former employee of the State Attorney's Office. Any one of these circumstances, as well as other certain circumstances, will result in the Governor appointing a different State Attorney jurisdiction to prosecute the matter via the Executive Assignment. It is actually a fairly common occurrence, as our own 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office regularly is assigned to handle matters outside of the 14th Judicial Circuit, most commonly in adjacent jurisdictions which are the 1st Judicial Circuit (West of here, based in Pensacola) and 2nd Judicial Circuit (East of here, based in Tallahassee).

Executive Assignments occur in both Misdemeanor and Felony offenses, as the principle of having an independent State Attorney prosecuting matters is fundamental to our Justice system. Once a different State Attorney takes over a case, the original jurisdiction State Attorney's Office is completely out of the case, as the newly appointed independent State Attorney uses his or her own staff, including investigators, paralegals, secretaries, and even Assistant State Attorneys. There is a complete firewall between the outside independent Executive Assignment appointed State Attorney's Office and the local State Attorney's Office.

The bottom line is an Executive Assignment ensures our Judicial system is completely free from politics, as well as any other potential conflict of interest. An independent State Attorney applies an independent set of eyes to the evidence, and determines whether to prosecute a violation of Florida law.

We all must abide by our United States and Florida Constitutions, and respect our most basic Constitutional principals of a fair and independent Judiciary. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us be thankful for our loved ones and our own lives, but also for the opportunity to live in such a great Nation, with our freedom of religion, speech, and our independent Judiciary where we are all guaranteed a fair trial. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.