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For the Prosecution and for the Defense


South Florida Legal Guide has deep respect for work of the region’s three state attorneys and public defenders. These elected officials and the hundreds of attorneys and support staffers in their offices are dedicated to upholding the safety and security of our communities, while protecting individual rights:

State Attorney

Michael Satz 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward 

Public Defender

Howard Finkelstein 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward 

State Attorney

Katherine Fernandez Rundle 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade 

Public Defender

Carlos J. Martinez 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade 

State Attorney

Dave Aronberg 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach 

Public Defender

Carey Haughwout 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach 

Overall, Florida has 20 state attorneys — one for each of its 20 judicial circuits. As the chief prosecutor in each circuit, the state attorney is responsible for representing the State of Florida in county and circuit courts. They handle a wide range of criminal cases, including felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile cases. In addition, they handle some civil cases, including bond validations, contraband forfeitures and injunctions. 


Florida’s public defender system dates from the 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Gideon v. Wainwright, which established a recognized constitutional right to an attorney for those who could not afford one. The state’s 20 public defenders in each judicial circuit guarantee that the indigent have the right to a fair trial. Once the judge determines that a defendant has insufficient funds, the public defender is officially appointed to represent that individual.

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