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Hagopian v. Justice Administrative Commission

18 So. 3d 625 (2009)

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Hagopian v. Justice Administrative Commission

Florida District Court of Appeal

18 So. 3d 625 (2009)

Facts

Terry Green and 11 codefendants were charged in an extremely complicated racketeering and conspiracy matter. The public defender’s office represented some of the defendants, but there were not enough publicly available resources or attorneys accepting appointments to represent Green and the other defendants. As a last resort, the trial court made an involuntary-appointment list of attorneys who were not willing to accept appointments. After excusing the first two attorneys on the list because they did not have enough experience to represent Green, the trial court appointed Gregory Hagopian (plaintiff), a distinguished solo practitioner. Hagopian moved to withdraw from the matter on four grounds, three of which were addressed in the trial court’s opinion: (1) appointments paid a flat rate that was not enough to pay for the work required to provide effective representation; (2) the payment deficiency would cause a conflict between Hagopian and Green; and (3) Green’s matter would consume Hagopian’s time, forcing Hagopian to withdraw from the representation of his current clients and prohibiting him from taking on new clients, causing the ruin of his business. In a hearing on the motion, Hagopian testified that he would need at least 500 hours just to prepare for trial and he would have to hire a second secretary at his own expense. Hagopian further testified that he would not have time to continue representing his current clients and he would not be able to accept new clients. Finally, Hagopian testified that he would charge a private client between $150,000 and $200,000 for the representation, and no competent attorney would take on the representation for $110 per hour, the enhanced amount that Hagopian would receive for representing Green. The trial court denied the motion to withdraw, and Hagopian sought review by certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wallace, J.)

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