About the Office of Public Counsel
Office of Public Counsel
The Office of the Public Counsel was created by the Florida Legislature in 1974 to provide legal representation for the people of the state in utility related matters (Section 350.061, et. seq., Florida Statutes) in proceedings before the Florida Public Service Commission, and in proceedings before counties pursuant to s.367.171(8). The Public Counsel exists under the auspices of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight. It intervenes in rate proceedings before the Florida Public Service Commission and counties involving private telephone and electric utilities, as well as in numerous proceedings involving gas, water, and wastewater utilities. The Public Counsel performs independent analyses, presents testimony of expert witnesses, cross-examines utility witnesses, and files recommendations and briefs in these cases. The Public Counsel does not pursue cases regarding utilities owned by local governments or cooperatives, nor does the Public Counsel pursue criminal or other individual matters.
The mission of the Public Counsel was described in an operational sense in the Florida Supreme Court Opinion, Citizens v. Mayo: "That office was created with the realization that the citizens of the state cannot adequately represent themselves in utility matters, and that the rate-setting function of the Commission is best performed when those who will pay utility rates are represented in an adversary proceeding by counsel at least as skilled as counsel for the utility company." Citizens v. Mayo, 333 So.2d 1, 6 (Fla.1976).
Public Counsel J.R. Kelly
J.R. Kelly was appointed Public Counsel by the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight effective November 20, 2007. J.R. graduated from Florida State University in 1981 with a B.S. degree in accounting. He worked as a tax auditor with the Florida Department of Revenue until 1985 when he left to attend law school. J.R. graduated with high honors from F.S.U. Law School in 1988. For the next 3 years, he was in private practice before joining the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a Senior Attorney. J.R. subsequently served as Director of the Division of Consumer Services and Assistant General Counsel before his appointment to Public Counsel.