County Public Defender
Universal primary (all voters vote)

Carey Haughwout

  • Incumbent seeking re-election
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Education: Doctorate degree
  • BA, Sociology and Economics, New College
  • JD, Florida State University
    • Recent Job: Public Defender for Palm Beach County, 2001-2016
  • Public Defender for Palm Beach County, 2001-2016
  • Partner, Tierney and Haughwout Law Office, 1991-2000
  • Assistant Public Defender, 1985-1991
  • Associate, Green and Fonvielle, 1983-1985
  • Contributions reported

    Last updated: Aug. 23, 2016. Details.

    Previous races


    Public Defender for Palm Beach County (2001 - Present)

    Other Political Experience

  • Criminal Justice Commission
  • Behavioral Health Task Force (co-chair)
  • Reentry Task Force (past chair, current member)
  • Community Alliance
  • Various Committees, Florida Public Defenders Association
  • Have you ever handled a capital felony case?
    I have handled capital cases since 1986. In my 33 years as a criminal defense lawyer, I have tried at least 20 cases where the death penalty was a possible penalty and handled many more. I currently represent several clients where the death penalty is being sought and I supervise other lawyers handling death cases. I am a board certified criminal trial attorney and qualified to handle death penalty cases. In the late 90's, at the request of the Florida Supreme Court, I helped develop standards for representation in capital cases. In addition, I have handled and currently handle a variety of other types of criminal cases. I have argued in the Florida Supreme Court four times.
    Is it important for the elected Public Defender to appear in court representing clients rather than acting only as an administrator?
    As the leader of the office, I believe it is important to appear in court, both for the clients and as a role model and mentor for our lawyers. Being in court enables me to be aware of the practices and policies in the various courtrooms as it impacts our clients, our staffing decisions, and how best to use our limited resources. It helps me to learn the strengths and weaknesses of our lawyers for training purposes and management decisions. It allows me to see first hand how the criminal justice system impacts the lives of those it serves so I can effectively advocate on a policy level for appropriate changes. Plus, I like advocating for our clients in the courtroom!
    Are you a good administrator? What skills do you have to manage the equivalent of a $16.8 million law firm?
    My philosophy is to lead by example inside and outside the courtroom and foster an environment of hard work and internal collaboration centered around serving our clients. I do not ask my lawyers to do anything I haven't or wouldn't do myself. This includes courtroom advocacy, training and mentoring, and building on individual strengths. We continually look for innovative solutions. We have used technology to reduce costs and improve services. I have also created divisions to address certain challenges in our criminal justice system that require specialized staff training such as mental health, juveniles in adult court, and forensics. We adjust caseloads based on staff experience, seriousness of crime, and complexity of cases.
    Has the Florida Legislature properly funded the Public Defender’s office?
    The court system, including Public Defender offices, are not adequately funded. Our lawyers are paid far below those in private practice. However, because of our nationally recognized training, mentoring and client-centered approach, we attract skilled lawyers from around the country who are devoted to public service rather than high salaries. I take seriously my responsibility to effectively use public monies and vigilantly guard against wasteful practices. I direct resources to actual client services rather than unnecessary bureaucratic staff.
    Should the public defender and the state attorney work together in some matters?
    Collaboration is critical to an efficient and effective justice system. Our lawyers are adversaries in the courtroom, as envisioned by the Constitution. But outside the courtroom I work with State Attorney Aronberg on many policies and practices that will improve justice in our community. For example, we (SA, PD and Court) established a Veteran's Court to streamline cases and improve services to those who have served our country in the military.

    Competitors for this race

    William “Bill” Abramson

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