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My name is Melissa Vickers and I am running for Public Defender of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola County. I have worked in virtually every capacity at the Public Defender’s Office and know all aspects of the job and operations. This is my calling and I ask that you vote for me.

In 1963 the U.S Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainright was decided, which gave indigent people charged with crimes the right to have an attorney represent them. In response to that decision, the Florida Legislature created the Office of the Public Defender for each of the twenty Judicial Circuits in Florida. Over 60 years later, is it immensely important that citizens have legal representation. This is a Constitutional office whose job is to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law no matter race, gender or economic status. Bryan Stevenson said “I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

We have many people in our community that are marginalized and indigent who need attorneys to stand beside them in court. It is important for people charged with crimes to have a knowledgeable and assertive attorney fighting for them. This is where the Public Defender can make a difference in the lives of those they represent and their families. I am committed to ensuring that the Office of the Public Defender and the employees who serve are knowledgeable and devoted to seeking justice for all we represent.

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