252 So.3d 351 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 2018), 5D18-683, State v. Grate

Docket Nº:5D18-683
Citation:252 So.3d 351, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D 1696
Opinion Judge:ORFINGER, J.
Party Name:STATE of Florida, Appellant, v. Ronald GRATE and Charles Morton, Appellees.
Attorney:Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Rebecca R. McGuigan, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellant. James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Nancy Ryan, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellees.
Judge Panel:WALLIS and LAMBERT, JJ., concur.
Case Date:July 27, 2018
Court:Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

Page 351

252 So.3d 351 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 2018)

43 Fla.L.Weekly D 1696

STATE of Florida, Appellant,

v.

Ronald GRATE and Charles Morton, Appellees.

No. 5D18-683

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

July 27, 2018

Page 352

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, Charles J. Roberts, George T. Paulk and Jeffrey F. Mahl, Judges.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Rebecca R. McGuigan, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Nancy Ryan, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellees.

OPINION

ORFINGER, J.

The State of Florida appeals the circuit court’s order denying its petition for a writ of quo warranto, challenging the Office of Public Defender’s authority to intervene in civil traffic infraction cases.1 We treat this matter as a direct appeal, reverse the circuit court’s order, and remand with instructions to grant the petition.

Ronald Grate and Charles Morton were charged in county court with driving with a revoked license as a habitual traffic offender. The Office of Public Defender was appointed to represent them. The assistant public defender assigned to the cases filed motions in county court to modify the adjudications of guilt in earlier civil traffic infraction cases in order to remove a predicate conviction necessary for habitual traffic offender sanctions. The State moved to strike each motion to modify, arguing that the Office of Public Defender had no authority to represent Grate and Morton in civil traffic infraction matters. The county court denied the State’s motion to strike and modified the earlier adjudications of guilt to withheld adjudications of guilt.2 The State then filed a petition for a writ of quo warranto in the circuit court, challenging the public defender’s authority to intervene in civil traffic infraction matters. Quo warranto is the proper means for inquiring whether a particular individual has improperly exercised the power or right derived from the state. Whiley v. Scott, 79 So.3d 702, 707 (Fla. 2011). The

Page 353

circuit court denied the State’s petition, and the matter is now before us.

Before considering the merits of the arguments presented, we must first determine the nature of our review of the...

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