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Rocky will build upon the work that he and Public Defender Julianne Holt have done over the years to ensure the office remains one of the most innovative and effective Public Defender offices in the country. There will be change, as Rocky has his own leadership style, but the foundation of service will remain the same. Here is a partial list of what we have accomplished and what we will continue to enjoy under Rocky's leadership as our next Public Defender:


Seamless transition through experienced leadership

  • There is no substitute for experience, and Chief Operations Officer Rocky Brancato will use his experience running the largest criminal defense law firm in Hillsborough County to ensure a seamless transition
  • Rocky's "Leaders Eat Last" philosophy has created an inclusive atmosphere where we strive to ensure the team is respected and supported
  • Rocky is both an administrator and a practicing attorney, handling serious cases and being "hands on" in the courtrooms
  • Rocky will use his experience as one of only a few death qualified attorneys in Hillsborough County to ensure that our Capital Homicide unit is a leader in advocacy
  • Rocky knows that we succeed only through innovation and teamwork, both of which helped us navigate challenging times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter
  • Our Leadership Development Program fosters a culture where staff can set and meet goals for their own enrichment and for the betterment of the office as a whole
  • We prioritize the wellbeing of our team through deliberate awareness of the wellness of those who serve our clients and through our Employee Assistance Program
  • Rocky will use his experience advocating at our Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee to continue our work in creating a competitive pay structure to attract and retain top talent

Professional, ethical and skilled advocacy

  • During his time as Training Director, Rocky oversaw the creation of our world class training program which is continually updated to remain innovative, effective and state of the art
  • New attorneys practice trial skills and advocacy in our mock courtroom to aid in their development as trial attorneys
  • Experienced supervisors are in the courtrooms to assist attorneys and to ensure that clients, witnesses and victims are treated professionally and fairly 
  • Client advocacy is a top priority and focus
  • Trial teams consisting of multiple attorneys, investigators and experts give our clients their best chance of achieving a fair and just outcome
  • Attorneys represent our clients strategically, ethically and professionally 

Holistic, client-centered representation that reduces recidivism and increases public safety

  • Our office reduces recidivism and improves client outcomes by employing social workers, mitigation specialists, case managers and other professionals to serve the client's holistic needs
  • Our professionals increase public safety by wrapping appropriate services around our clients and their families to make them successful beyond the pendency of their cases
  • We divert low risk clients out of the criminal justice system at the front-end of the case and at every appropriate point and opportunity
  • Our Forensic Behavioral Intervention Unit (FBHIU) is the preeminent resource in the court system in the areas of mental illness and addiction
  • We leverage our expertise in problem solving courts such as Veterans Treatment Court, Mental Health Court and Recovery Court, with a focus on utilizing best practices to achieve the best outcomes

Innovative, efficient and fiscally-prudent operations through leveraging technology

  • We leverage technology to maintain efficient, innovative and cost-effective operations
  • We were the first Public Defender office in the country to institute a document portal, which greatly reduces the need to have expensive photocopiers, paper and postage to deliver discovery and documents to our clients and experts
  • We are the first Public Defender office in Florida and one of the first in the country to implement Axon Justice to store and process digital evidence, creating many efficiencies through Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) such as automated digital transcripts, geolocation and syncing of body cameras and the ability to share very large digital files electronically, with the push of a button
  • Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were the first government law firm in Hillsborough County to institute an electronic case management system with paperless files, which served our community well before, during and after the pandemic
  • Our attorneys utilize technology to serve our incarcerated population at the jails through videoconferencing with inmates from our office to having our entire files electronically accessible when we visit clients in person at the jail

Focused attention on prevention and diversion of our youth

  • Rocky chairs the Circuit 13 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board where stakeholders and providers advise the Department of Juvenile Justice to ensure that prevention and education are effectively carried out and remain a top focus
  • We monitor and advocate for the expansion of the Civil Citation program, which reduces recidivism by ensuring low risk juvenile offenders are handled through diversion rather than by an arrest with lifelong consequences
  • Our Forensic Behavioral Intervention Unit (FBHIU) provides leadership and expertise in Juvenile Mental Health Court, where we have created a "one stop shop" with evaluators and providers in the courtroom to help overcome barriers such as transportation, time off of work for parents and time away from school for children
  • We advocate against the direct-filing of children as adults by developing mitigation and care plans
  • Through a partnership with a local university, we provide cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatment modalities to direct-filed juveniles (children charged as adults) to improve their amenability to rehabilitation in support of sentencing the child to juvenile sanctions

Interagency collaboration and leadership, with an eye toward criminal justice reform

  • We sit at the table and collaborate with other stakeholders for the betterment of the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems in Hillsborough County
  • We are a leader in innovation by leveraging our experience and resources to develop new, effective programs based on the needs of our community
  • We work toward criminal justice reform, with an emphasis of rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and increasing public safety
  • When the criminal justice system works together, we can save the taxpayers money by reducing the cost of incarceration and helping those we serve succeed 

Community involvement

  • We are involved in our community, serving organizations that serve our clients
  • Our leaders sit on government and nonprofit boards to lend our knowledge and expertise 
  • We work toward the goal of improving community safety via a public health model, through our involvement with Safe and Sound Hillsborough
  • We have been involved in the schools and community centers, putting on mock trials to effect change in the thought process of our youth regarding gun violence

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Rocky Brancato, Democrat for Public Defender, 13th Judicial Circuit
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