Public Defender

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Meet Andy


Andy has been a criminal defense lawyer since 1983, first with the PD Judge Luckey in Tampa, then with Mike Allen and Nancy Daniels in Tallahassee. For two years, he prosecuted on the appellate and trial levels, but his true love is the defense of the impoverished and disenfranchised. Andy has served as a defender in every courtroom setting: Juvenile, Misdemeanor, Felony, Capital, Post Conviction for Death Row inmates, Appeals, and Specialty Courts.

Between 1987-1997, Andy was in private practice in Quincy, Florida, first with Hal Richmond, then as a sole practitioner. During those years, he learned law office management and economics, and also gained experience in the wide array of legal issues his clients faced: divorce, child custody, dependency, delinquency, estates and trusts, and civil litigation.

Andy Thomas

In 1997, Andy became Chief Assistant to Greg Smith at Capital Collateral Regional Counsel-North and served capital clients for 3 years. In 2000, he joined incumbent Public Defender, Nancy Daniels's staff, first as an appellate lawyer, then assisting in misdemeanor and felony, and ultimately becoming Chief Assistant over 10 years ago. For over 13 years, he has learned the managerial and administrative challenges associated with defense of the indigent. Between 2011-2014, Andy was part of the Capital Homicide Division and represented a number of clients with difficult cases. None received the death penalty.

Andy's mantra is to "set people up for success." To do so requires a holistic approach to criminal defense. Clients cannot be understood by what they may have done, but by what may have motivated them to do it. Poverty, lack of employment, loss of driving privileges, mental health, substance abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, adverse childhood experiences...the list is endless. BUT, these are the factors which cause crime and threats to public safety. We have passed Draconian minimum mandatory sentencing laws, criminalized childhood behavior, and tried mass incarceration, all the while turning our backs on rehabilitation. The results have been dreadful. We need to heal the wounds which cause crime, for the accused and the victimized. Public safety will only be enhanced by mindful approaches to the criminal justice system.

Andy pledges to network with community agencies and resources to address underlying issues for clients. His goal is to enhance relationships with our clients, their families, and the many public and private sector entities who want to help.

In his occasional spare time, Andy loafs around with three big rescue dogs, one "know-it-all cat," his wife, Alice, and son, Larry. Sometimes, he kayak fishes in Wakulla County. He treasures the time he has with adult daughters Carla, Kelly, and Bethany, who all now live outside of Tallahassee with their significant others.