Scope of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel and Registry Attorney Under Florida Statutes
Section 27.702(1), Florida Statutes, provides, in relevant part, that the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel (CCRC) and registry attorneys "shall file only those postconviction or collateral actions authorized by statute." Section 27.7001, Florida Statutes, provides that such "collateral representation shall not include representation during retrials, resentencings, proceedings commenced under chapter 940, or civil litigation."
In State ex. rel. Butterworth v. Kenny, 714 So. 2d 404, 409 (Fla. 1998) the court clarified that habeas petitions, although technically civil in nature, were not included within the purview of section 27.7001:
Technically, habeas corpus and other postconviction relief proceedings are classified as civil proceedings.
Unlike a general civil action, however, wherein parties seek to remedy a private wrong, a habeas corpus or other postconviction relief proceeding is used to challenge the validity of a conviction and sentence.
Murray v. Giarratano, 492 U.S. 1, 13, 109 S. Ct. 2765, 106 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1989) (O'Connor, J., concurring) (postconviction proceeding is a civil action designed to overturn a presumptively valid criminal judgment);
O'Neal v. McAninch, 513 U.S. 432, 440, 115 S. Ct. 992, 130 L. Ed. 2d 947 (1995) (habeas is a civil proceeding involving someone's custody rather than mere civil liability).
Consequently, postconviction relief proceedings, while technically classified as civil actions, are actually quasi-criminal in nature because they are heard and disposed of by courts with criminal jurisdiction.
The Court conclude that the legislature, in expressing its intent to prohibit CCRC from engaging in civil litigation on behalf of capital defendants, meant only to prohibit CCRC from engaging in civil litigation other than for the purpose of instituting and prosecuting the traditional collateral actions challenging the legality of the judgment and sentence imposed.Id. at 409-10.
In Kenny, we held that quasi-criminal claims, although technically civil in nature, were not included within the restriction of section 27.7001 because they are "collateral actions." 714 So. 2d at 409-10.