On February 7, 2011 when seventeen-year-old DeShon Thomas was charged with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder, DeShon and his mother waited patiently for Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson to appoint DeShon a Conflict Attorney after The Office of the Public Defender informed DeShon and his mother that they were no longer able to provide DeShon representation due to having represented the male victim in the murders.
(DeShon, who was a full-time freshman at Tallahassee Community College and worked no less than 35 hours a week at Taco Bell, had been in the Leon County Jail since February 2, 2011 for 5 pots of soil with marijuana stems sprouting from them that were located in 21-year-old Trentin Ross’ bedroom closet. According to reports, Mr. Ross told detectives that he, himself–watered and turned the lights on over the plants—but never clarified who put the plants in his one and only bedroom closet in the entire apartment. Leon County Sheriff’s Detectives already had DeShon pegged as the murderer in their double homicide case in which their investigation began on January 27, 2011. Both DeShon and Mr. Ross were charged with Cultivation of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. In the Cultivation of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia case, DeShon was represented by the Public Defender’s Office in Juvenile Court. The State Attorney’s Office decided to Direct File those charges—which led DeShon to being charged as an adult—and transported to the Leon County Jail. It is believed that while DeShon was in the Leon County Jail waiting to comply with GPS Monitoring, a fake detective by the name of Don Odham and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell used Trentin Ross’ scorned heart, fear of incarceration, and ignorance of the law (in which detectives did not have a Search Warrant for Mr. Ross’ bedroom—detectives were aware that DeShon was not on Mr. Ross’ rental lease of the one-bedroom apartment) to give several incriminating statements about DeShon.)
After thirty days of DeShon not having an attorney, on March 12, 2011, DeShon’s mother signed a Contract for Service with Criminal Defense Attorney Gregory Cummings as DeShon’s private paid attorney. DeShon’s mother and Mr. Cummings had been introduced and physically met weeks earlier. At the time of their meeting, Mr. Cummings told DeShon’s mother that he was a Conflict Attorney, however, DeShon’s mother did not completely understand the burden of ethics that Conflict Attorneys maybe up against when it comes to representing one client in a private capacity versus representing hundreds of Indigent clients (plus other benefits—like a possible all expense paid trip to the Virgin Islands to interview a character witness). So clearly, in DeShon’s mother’s opinion, Conflict Attorneys have more to gain by representing Indigent clients than representing clients in a private capacity. The State of Florida have deeper pockets—residual income and a steady workflow (in most cases Conflict Attorneys receive less than $5000 per Indigent client). The $29850 paid to Mr. Cummings by DeShon’s mother over sixteen months (before firing Mr. Cummings for unethical practice, etc.)—didn’t put a dent in what Mr. Cummings had received from the State of Florida as Mr. Cummings, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson had at least a 10 year history of working high profile cases together.
DeShon’s mother is not condemning Conflict Attorneys who serve Tallahassee or the other cities within the 2nd Judicial Circuit. DeShon’s mother is simply informing parents to be aware of attorneys who receive compensation through private and public funds.
Please click the link below to see a list of Conflict Attorneys within the 2nd Judicial Circuit.