Former Public Defender Nancy Daniels Receives 2017 Tallahassee Bar Association Lifetime Professionalism Award
The Tallahassee Bar Association recently presented its annual Lifetime Professionalism Award to Nancy Daniels, who served for 26 years as the public defender for Leon and five surrounding counties before her retirement in 2016. Daniels was instrumental in the development of the Second Circuit’s drug courts, mental health treatment initiatives, juvenile diversion and civil citation programs.
The Lifetime Professionalism Award is given to a lawyer, judge or law professor who for a period of at least 25 years has demonstrated professionalism and dedication to the legal profession and legal community through civil, community or legal service. Recipients must be TBA members. Sean Desmond, Tallahassee Bar Association President, presented the award during the TBA and William H. Stafford American Inn of Court holiday party on Dec. 5.
According to Desmond, Daniels has made a lasting impact on the Second Judicial Circuit legal community.
“Nancy Daniels has been an outstanding advocate for those who are less fortunate and a mentor to countless attorneys throughout the state,” said Desmond. “Her hard work, dedication and professionalism are hallmarks of her remarkable career.”
Tallahassee attorney William H. Davis in a letter of recommendation stated, “Throughout her years as a lawyer, Nancy Daniels has singularly demonstrated a steadfast adherence to the highest goals of our profession. She has been a zealous, capable and effective representative of her clients. She has courageously, in both her personal and professional life, stood up for the ‘underdog,’ for those without the means or the wherewithal to otherwise be so ably represented.”
Daniels is past president of the Florida Public Defender Association and the Tallahassee Bar Association. She served on the Florida Innocence Commission by appointment of the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. In the community, she is president of the Palmer Munroe Teen Center and a board member of the Grace Mission for the Homeless.
Background. Nancy Daniels was the first woman in Florida elected to the office of public defender, and served for 26 years as the public defender of the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida. In that role, she managed a staff of 113 employees who handled criminal, juvenile and mental health trials in the six counties of the Second Circuit and criminal appeals from 32 North Florida counties. She recently retired from that position and now is a legislative consultant to the Florida Public Defender Association. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, in her last year as public defender for Leon County, Daniels oversaw more than 16,000 cases, represented 13,000 clients, got the state to drop charges in 944 cases and assigned more than 1,000 appeals.
Daniels graduated from Florida State College of Law with honors in 1977. She worked as a legislative intern in the Florida Senate during law school, and then served as a law clerk at the First District Court of Appeal. After working six years as an Assistant Public Defender in the Leon County Public Defender’s Office, Dean Talbot D’ Alemberte hired her as a criminal clinical professor at FSU law school, supervising state attorney and public defender interns around the state prior to her election as public defender in 1990.