This program will orient members with our new normal… virtual Inns meetings.  Members will learn about the history of the Inn, how our Inn has evolved over time, what makes our Inn special, and how our mentoring program will work this year. Students will then meet their attorney mentors and break out into groups to kick off the mentoring program. 


After observing a live zoom oral argument, members will hear from Mary Beth Kuenzel, 2DCA judges, and attorneys who have participated in zoom oral arguments.  The discussion will focus on the pros and cons of remote oral arguments, challenges faced with this new technology, and any tips on do’s and don’ts for remote OAs.  


This program will focus on coping with stress, setting work-life boundaries, networking, and addressing mental health while working or learning from home and social distancing during the pandemic. 


Public Defender Rex Demmig will discuss the effect that Covid-19 has had on jury trials, with a specific focus on the defendants’ right to speedy trial and right to confrontation. The program will also explore predictions on how these unprecedented issues may manifest in future appeals. 


Presentation by Clerk Mary Beth Kuenzel discussing the major changes to the Appellate Rules, followed by Gideon’s Trumpet mentoring book club with Bruce Jacob.


This program will examine 1) criminal cases pending before the Florida and United States Supreme Courts in the current term and discuss how the Court’s decisions will affect the practice of criminal appellate law especially in light of the Court’s changing composition; and 2) recent notable cases decided by these Courts.

Protecting Victims’ Rights: The Practical Effects of Florida’s Adoption of Amendment 6 on Criminal Practice

Discussing the 2018 adoption of Amendment 6, known as the Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Age, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment.  It will primarily consider the practical effects and potential impact of the victims’ rights provisions in that amendment on the criminal trial and appellate process.  The program should also address the source of the amendment, its intended purpose, any debate surrounding victims’ rights laws, any pending legal challenges to Amendment 6, and the status of any legislation implementing Marcy’s law.

Competency and Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System

Examining the practical and legal challenges that arise in handling cases where the defendant suffers from mental illness.  Topics addressed may include the relationship between insanity as a legal defense, competency to proceed, competency for self-representation, and mental illness as a consideration at sentencing.  Related topics may include the challenges associated with competency evaluations, competency determinations, and the restoration of competency.  Lastly, the pupillage may consider what post-sentencing mental health programs are available to inmates within the Department of Corrections.

Blood Draw Nuances  

Exprloring the evolving nuances of implied consent laws.  Issues addressed may include whether blood draws are available (and admissible) when a suspect is unconscious; the implications of Birchfield v. North Carolina on Florida’s implied consent warning for a second refusal; exigent circumstances and the implications of Missouri v. McNeely; whether a warrant is needed for a blood draw when there is death or serious bodily injury; and the application of the inevitable discovery rule to blood draws. 

Law, Science, and Experts

Many cases benefit from or require testimony in areas of special scientific expertise.  Discussion of the relationship between science, technology, and the law, with a focus on the admissibility of scientific evidence and expert testimony.  This pupillage will examine the different kinds of experts commonly retained in criminal cases (i.e., ballistics experts, eyewitness identification experts, DNA experts, drug dogs and their handlers) and the lawyer’s ethical duties related to developing a familiarity with scientific terms and concepts.  The pupillage should also address what impact the Florida Supreme Court’s recent adoption of the Daubert standard will have on the admission of scientific evidence.  This pupillage may consider having an expert come and speak during their presentation.  

Search and Seizure in the Electronic Age

Examining issues that arise in the increasingly connected and self-monitoring era of iPhones, Fitbits, Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and social media check-ins.  The pupillage will examine the recent cases addressing Fourth Amendment search and seizures as they relate to electronic devices and information and will discuss the future possible implications of those cases, i.e., privacy concerns, Internet of Things (IoT) data, cell-site location information (CSLI) as business records, the third-party doctrine, and when a warrant is required.  

Research and Writing in the Digital Age

Providing practical guidance on how to best use technology to perform computer-aided research and prepare briefs and opinions.  Topics addressed may include features and tools available within Westlaw (such as Drafting Assistant, WestCheck, or “copy with reference”), Microsoft Office, and Adobe PDF (such as bookmarking, tabbing, highlighting, and removal of metadata).  The pupillage may also address technology-related practices for reviewing the record, performing advanced research, and preparing a brief or opinion.  The pupillage should aim to identify those technological tools that appellate practitioners frequently rely on and also those newer tools that practitioners may be unaware of.    



Whether, as a Matter of Law, a Downward Facing Dog Cannot Have Dangerous Propensity 

Stress Reduction Techniques for the Criminal Appellate Practitioner. 

Case Law Update: The Supreme Court Swings In Favor of Criminal Defendants

Discuss recent United States Supreme Court cases and what their outcomes mean for future criminal cases in Florida; possible cases for discussion include:

  • McCoy v. Louisiana, Case No. 16-8255 (May 14, 2018) (The Court reversed remanded the decision by the State of Louisiana. The Court held that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his defense and to insist that his counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty. The client’s autonomy, not his counsel’s competence, is the issue.).
  • Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S.Ct. 1730 (June 19, 2017)(statute criminalizing the accessing of social media sites by convicted sex offenders violates the First Amendment); compare and apply to Fla. Stat. s. 948.30(h), which requires the court, in certain sex-related crimes, to impose a special condition of probation that prohibits internet use until a qualified practitioner in the offer’s sex offender treatment program creates, approves, completes, and implements a safety plan for the offender’s access of the internet. 
  • Carpenter v. US, Case No. 16-402 (June 22, 2018) (the Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Court held the Government’s acquisition of Carpenter’s cell-site records was a Fourth Amendment search and required a warrant supported by probable cause.).
  • Collins v. Virginia, Case No. 16-1027 (May 29, 2018) (The Court reversed and remanded the decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  The Court held that the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment does not permit the warrantless entry of a home or its curtilage – “the area ‘immediately surrounding and associated with the home’” – in order to search a vehicle therein.).

What Would You Do: A Practical Exercise in Appellate Ethics

Talking points include:  

  • The duty to disclose adverse authorities.  This includes cases from other districts  and the duty to acknowledge possible jurisdictional issues. 
  • False statements of material fact or law and other forms of dishonesty.  This applies equally to briefs and oral argument.  There are cases where attorneys have changed the line-spacing and fonts on their briefs to circumvent the court’s rules on page limits, or have employed selective quotations of authority to wrongly alter the meaning or import of the authorities.  Attorneys have also lied or made up answers during oral argument, or otherwise misled the court through omissions and silence regarding known adverse authorities.   
  • Lawyers’ criticism of the courts, See Rule 4-8.2
  • Frivolous appeals, and special issues in criminal appeals, including the balancing of filing frivolous appeals and a defendant’s constitutional rights, including Anders briefs vs. withdrawal. 
  • Lawyers’ ethical duties to avoid delay and expedite litigation.
  •  Possible sanctions for rule violations. 

“This could be the next Netflix documentary . . . Criminal Justice Reform, as provided by the program committee":  

  • Focusing on Florida’s sentencing disparities, and the legislature’s attempts to overhaul prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, allowing for more judicial discretion in sentencing, recidivism reduction, eliminating costs for taxpayers
  • Restoring voting rights after felony convictions – the argument for and against, and a nationwide overview.”

"I Spy Some Changes in Eyewitness Identification"

Eye witness identification after the Eyewitness Identification Reform Act, 92.70, Fla. Stat. and amended eye witness identification jury instruction 3.9(c).


Time to Err: Harmful, Structural, or Fundamental Error?  

A program on the various types of error common in criminal appeals, with an emphasis on how appellate courts treat these errors.  The program might discuss how preservation, ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and the tipsy coachman doctrine can intertwine with these concepts.  It should focus on how appellate review differs depending on the type of error.  While this may include a discussion on the difference between abuse of discretion and de novo review, the program should not focus primarily on those standards. 

“We Can Handle the Truth”

This program will serve as an open dialogue between the attorneys, the clerks, and the judges regarding questions they may have about certain practices during the appellate process. Topics to discuss: 

  • The court’s preferences on formatting or fonts. 
  • How important is the summary of the argument or conclusion? 
  • Why does the AG’s office put the same paragraph at the beginning of all the facts?
  • How many cases does an APD handle at once? A clerk? An AAG? A Judge?
  • What’s the most effective thing to discuss at OA? 
  • If the panel is silent, does that mean we should stop talking and sit down?
  • How does the state decide whether or not to concede?
  • Judges can explain what happens when they get a motion for rehearing or written opinion, and how they decide whether to grant or deny said motions.

This program will also include a discussion from the attorneys about what things are helpful to include in opinions in order to provide more effective guidance when navigating the waters at trial and on appeal. For example, what level of factual detail is helpful?  Is certain remand language preferred? Do the Judges prefer attorneys to include specific relief requests? Is there a format that would make judicial opinions more easily accessible and useful during the fast-paced environment of trial? 

The Appellate process from A-Z: A day in the life of a brief

“How a Brief becomes a Decision”- think similar to “How a bill becomes a law” from schoolhouse rock. This program will include a thorough explanation of an appeal from the conception of the appeal through its final decision. There seems to be a lot of mystery behind what goes into the appellate process at each office and the Court, so this pupilage will clear up all those questions.  Instead of giving the basic procedure for writing appeals, the pupilage will instead walk the inn through the appellate process for a brief, essentially as a skit. Can also explore lesser known topics such as rehearings and constructing the record, as well as a day in the life of an APD, AAG, clerk, and judge. 


  • An APD pupilage member will start by explaining what happens when a case comes into the office. How it is assigned, how the issues are determined, etc.   
  • Once their brief is filed, the AAG will explain the intake and assignment process, and the procedures we utilize when responding to briefs. (Most of that is pretty basic and simple to go over). 
  • Then, a pupilage member from the 2DCA can explain how the briefs are deconstructed, analyzed, and reviewed once they get to the clerks. 
  • After that, a Judge can explain how the panel reviews and confers on the cases, and how a decision is reached. 

Real OA, followed by “The good, the bad, and the ugly: Mock OA”

Following “The Real OA,” two appellate judges in the Inn perform as advocates at a comical mock oral argument riddled with unprofessional and unethical behavior (think: not knowing record, addressing the judges as sir or ma’am, talking over the judges, etc). Additionally, the advocates will act out lesser-known pet-peeves of the judges that many people may not be aware of. Following the short presentation, the Inn members in the audience identify the problems with the arguments, which will lead to a discussion about professionalism and ethics during OAs. This program will also provide OA tips to students and new attorneys from judges, clerks, and attorneys. As an added bonus, each office will explain how it decides whether to ask for OA, and then the attorneys, clerks, and judges will explain how each preps for an OA.