Florida State House District 4
Florida Legislators Lay Down the Law: Protect Criminal Defense Attorneys  
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This week, the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 384, State Representative Patt Maney’s initiative to protect criminal defense attorneys and public defenders against violent acts in the courtroom. Just as Florida law protects law enforcement officers, correctional officers, prosecutors and judges from violent offenses committed against them during court proceedings, this bill enhances the penalty to a felony charge for violent offenses committed against defense attorneys, as well. SB 384 is now heading to the Governor’s desk for his review and signature.  

“An attack on any courtroom personnel is an attack on our entire criminal justice system. This legislation corrects the injustice of leaving our defense attorneys and public defenders vulnerable to violence in our courtrooms,” said State Representative Patt Maney. “Both Florida’s House and Senate unanimously stood up this week and resolutely affirmed that our courts will be safe places to conduct the people’s business. No more ‘get-out-of-jail-free' cards for beating up your lawyer.”  
(Rep. Patt Maney presenting CS/HB 71 on the House Floor, April 13) 

First alerted by the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel of the First Region of Florida’s (RC1) Regional Counsel Candice Brower, the impetus for SB 384 was the vicious attack of criminal defense attorney Eric Atria by his client and career criminal, Obadiah Dillard, in an Alachua County courtroom last November. As Mr. Atria prepared to speak on behalf of his client, Mr. Dillard violently punched his attorney in the hope that his case would be declared a mistrial. The attack left Mr. Atria with a fractured skull, a concussion and a broken tooth. Because of the severity of the assault, Mr. Dillard was charged with a second-degree felony. 

Committee Substitute for House Bill (CS/HB) 71 was sponsored in a bipartisan effort by Rep.’s Patt Maney (R – Shalimar) and Bobby Payne (R – Palatka), and co-sponsored by Rep.’s Mike Beltran (R – Riverview), Christopher Benjamin, (D – Miami Gardens), Garcia (R – Miami), and Michelle Salzman (R – Escambia County), with the support of House Speaker Paul Renner and House Rules Chairman Daniel Perez. Upon its third reading, the bill was laid on the table and substituted by its identical Senate companion Senate Bill 384, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R – Fleming Island) and co-sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Martin (R – Fort Myers).  
Constituent inquiries can be directed to or the Fort Walton Beach District Office (850) 833-3713.  

Florida State Representative Patt Maney was first elected in 2020 to represent the residents of House District 4 in part of Okaloosa County. A retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and former Okaloosa County Judge, Representative Maney is a proven, conservative leader for both his country and community, driving commonsense solutions for Florida families in the Panhandle. 

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"Thank you for allowing me to represent you. It is truly an honor to serve you and the State of Florida." - Representative Patt Maney