How to Appoint an Expert from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities

At the request of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), the process for appointing APD in this circuit has changed. The section below explains the recent changes in red.

Chapter 916 of the Florida Statutes is the statutory authority for the courts to appoint the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) to evaluate for intellectual disability or autism. The statute states two experts shall be appointed to evaluate the defendant to determine the following: (1) if they have an intellectual disability or autism; and (2) if they meet the criteria for intellectual disability or autism, then an evaluation for competence to proceed is completed.

In other words, the doctors are to first evaluate the defendant to see if the defendant meets the criteria for an intellectual disability or autism. The first expert appointed is a court expert. If the defendant meets the definition of intellectual disability or autism, then the expert determines whether the defendant is competent to proceed. If Defendant does not meet the criteria, then according to the statute there is no need to determine competence to proceed. The expert must be on the 12th Circuit's list of approved expert witnesses and Court Administration pays for this exam.

The court expert you appoint must be under contract with 12th Circuit Court Administration. The 12th Circuit currently has five experts under contract to do these evaluations; Dr. Broeder, Dr. O'Neal, Dr. Tenenbaum, Dr. Visser and Dr. Yamout. If you appoint an expert who is not on our list, you are responsible for paying the bill, not us.

The second expert appointed is a psychologist approved by APD to do these exams. The purpose of appointing APD is to essentially rule out the possibility that the defendant has an intellectual disability which may be a contributing factor to their inability to comprehend the judicial process. The Court pays for this exam regardless of whether the defendant is an adult or juvenile. We have been advised that for FY 18-l 9, APD was not funded to provide this service, therefore the Court is responsible. Currently, the 12th Circuit only has one doctor on APD's list of approved psychologists, Dr. Karim Yamout.

What has changed is that when you appoint APD to a case, simply put "APD" and do not list a specific doctor's name in the order. A sample order is available at the link below. You then send the order and all required supporting documents to APD so the Agency can create a case file and send it to the doctor appointed to evaluate the defendant. Orders and supporting documents can be emailed to Maria Fowler at APD Maria.Fowler@apdcares.org (her complete contact information is below). The supporting documents should include:

  • Petition for all charges on court order
  • Criminal Report affidavit/ PCA
  • Felony Information
  • Police Reports
  • Location and contact information for the defendant
  • School Records, if available
APD Contact Information

Maria Fowler,
Forensic Unit Liaison
Suncoast Region
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
1313 N Tampa St. Ste. 515
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 233-4337 -office
(813) 429-040 I -cell
Maria.Fowler@apdcares.org

If you have any questions about appointing APD, please contact Maria Fowler directly.

 Sample Order to Determine Intellectual Disability or Autism