Does Public Defender Bob Dillinger Preclude his Assistant Public Defenders from making individual choice to participate in judicial survey? “Probably”

Last year when the Committee Promoting Judicial Excellence (“CPJE”) hosted its first judicial survey for the 6th Circuit, Bob Dillinger, the public defender for Pinellas and Pasco, said that his office would participate.  This year Dillinger indicated that his office would not be participating.  When questioned why Dillinger responded,

“Due to the low participation rate in the survey, I was concerned that the results could be attributed to our specific attorneys.”

Last year 115 attorneys participated in the survey.  The judicial survey, which is run by CPJE in order to improve the judicial system and give some information to voters, was criticized because of “low numbers”.  See Tampa Bay Times coverage of last year’s survey.   Josh Chilson, president of the  Clearwater Bar Association (CBA members were asked to particpate) and Chief Judge McGrady both questioned the validity of the survey results due to low number of participants.

When Bob Dillinger was asked about whether his individual assistant public defenders would be precluded from making their own individual decision about whether to participate in the survey he responded, “probably.”

The survey is open to all attorneys from both the public and private sectors.  Makes one wonder why there appears to be some resistance to participation when the concern is “low participation”

Attorney Luke Lirot weighs in:

I digested Mr. Dillinger’s response and I would make some observations. First, I would hope that we all have enough faith in our Judges to think that opinions regarding their performance, respectfully submitted by those that would be keenly aware of same, would not result in undue retribution or retaliation. Second, I can only assume that concern over potential retribution or retaliation is grounded in the belief that many of those anticipated opinions might be less than optimal. Neither consideration is encouraging, but one can only hope that it will inspire a broader participation in the surveys.

Dillinger is up for election in 2016


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