Holly Marie Stutz Outstanding Administrative Service Award

To recognize any former or current employee performing administrative functions in the Florida Public Defender Association for outstanding service contributing to the improvement of their respective office and/or the criminal justice system, locally or within the State of Florida.

History of the Holly Marie Stutz Outstanding Administrative Service Award

Holly Marie Stutz spent the last 18 years of her all too short life doing work that she loved in the Office of the Public Defender of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida. In her position as Executive Director, she set a standard for dedication, initiative and loyalty. She had a major role on the impact of the office in the Tenth Circuit justice community. For a number of years, she was an effective member of the Florida Public Defender Association’s appropriation team.

A degree in political science, an internship with Senator Chiles and service as district office manager for a congressman made Holly a natural for public defender work. Holly Stutz’s first job with the Tenth Judicial Circuit Public Defender was as a staff assistant. Within a year, she became administrative assistant to the Public Defender. An innovator, she advocated and implemented a unique approach to early case preparation that allowed the office to cope with the caseload crunch of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

In 1990, she became the Executive Director with responsibility for hiring, training and supervision of all non- legal staff. Until her death, she was involved in every aspect of the office. Her particular love was investigation. She enjoyed doing interviews and was on call to do capital client interviews on weekends. She followed all the office capital cases with great interest and was usually present for closing argument and verdict.

Holly was a highly effective administrator because she cared passionately for the work and clients of the office. She believed in the mission of providing quality legal representation to the clients. She instilled this passion in those she worked with. Mediocrity was unacceptable to her.

Holly Marie Stutz was brave and fearless. In the face of her dread disease, she never shed a tear and never asked “Why?” Knowing she had but months to live, she was asked if she wouldn’t like to spend time traveling or visiting with friends around the country or just reading her beloved Jane Austen novels a tenth time each. Holly’s response was there was no other place than the office, no persons other than the office staff and nothing other than public defender work that she wanted to do for whatever time she had left. She made it clear the matter was not subject to argument. While she had strength, she came to the office. When she was no longer able, she insisted on and got a full report of each day’s activities. Literally to the end, the work of the office was foremost on her mind. Holly died December 18, 2002.

Holly’s legacy is a group of highly trained, dedicated professionals who carry on her passionate love for indigent criminal defense. She imbued them with her independence, fierce determination and impatience with less than the best. Holly Marie Stutz is representative of the ideal public defender administrator. The Florida Public Defender Association honored her memory by the creation of this award bearing her name and by awarding the inaugural award to her posthumously.