Fort Pierce Office

19th Circuit Public Defender's Office  
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Client Services Program

In 1999 the Public Defender developed the Client Services Program to work with the Assistant Public Defenders to advocate for those who had neither the knowledge nor the ability to help themselves.  Clients with a misdemeanor or felony offense, and with a substance abuse, mental health and/or developmental disability diagnoses, are eligible for services.  Other clients with needs such as job training, learning to read, anger management, and other skills necessary to lead a productive life that would help them break their cycle of crime, are also eligible for assistance.

Client Services Specialists, with training in varying mental health behaviors, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and, sentencing advocacy, work with the client, community providers and other professionals to recommend an appropriate treatment path for Public Defender clients.  The Specialists work directly with the clients, and with client consent, communicates to family members and care givers the status of the client’s case.

Serving the needs of clients are the four divisions within the Client Services Program.

Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

  • Identify cases involving serious and persistent mental health disorders and developmental disabilities, which may involve Incompetence to Proceed or Insanity, and facilitate appropriate transfer. 
  • Collect records to facilitate full and appropriate expert evaluations.
  • Identify available appropriate community treatment for mentally ill or developmentally disabled clients; assist with placement for the chronically mentally ill or developmentally disabled; and,  assist with the expeditious release of  clients incarcerated in the County Jail.
  • Act as a liaison between the Department of Children and Families and the criminal court system to assist with diverting clients from State Hospital Commitment to available community treatment beds.
  • Monitor clients committed to State Hospital or placed on conditional release, and serve as a liaison between Courts and treatment providers.

    Substance Abuse

  • Clients referred by an Assistant Public Defender, or by the Court, are screened for the types of substance abuse affecting their lives; for their desire for treatment; and, for other needs that would help them to lead productive lives.
  • Attorneys and the Courts are advised of available treatment programs and the client’s eligibility.  Sentenced clients are assisted with securing interviews and completing applications for acceptance into a program.
    Mental Health Court
  • Mental Health Court operates in St. Lucie and Martin Counties to serve misdemeanor and felony clients.
  • Identify and quickly facilitate mentally ill offenders release from jail and into community programs.
  • Clients are evaluated and placed in one of three Mental Health Programs.
  • Court appearances, drug screening, and counseling are required.
  • The Mental Health Court Team monitors the progress of clients and makes recommendations to the Court.

    Drug Court
  • Drug Court is a diversionary program conducted in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties.  It is available to first-time offenders charged with a third degree drug-related felony.  Offenders with other charges may be eligible for Drug Court upon agreement by all parties.
  • The Drug Court Team includes a Drug Court Judge, a representative from both the Public Defender’s and State Attorney’s offices, and community providers.     
  • Sentencing of Drug Court offenders is withheld pending successful completion of their Drug Court Program.
  • Three different programs operate to fulfill the assessed needs of the client.


Areas of Specialty Training

Forensic Mental Health

Intellectual Disability

Developemental Disablilities

Sentencing Advocacy

Diversion Courts

Special Education

Cultural Competence and Sensitivity

Contact Information

Lisa Fonteyn
Client Services Coordinator
Katie Alonzo, Esq.
Assistant Public Defender
Diversion Court Supervisor
Michelle Derrico
Client Services Specialist

Jessica Holberton, Esq.
Client Services Specialist
Diversion Court Attorney

Mary Paris
Client Services Specialist

1664 SE Walton Road
Suite 203
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952

 Fax (772) 337- 5668


Over the years, the Client Services Program has cultivated relationships with many local social service agencies.

Therefore, we can assist clients with referrals to community programs.  


Effective July 1, 2006 - Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing. SB 80/Chapter 2006-232, Laws of Florida (Public Records Law Regarding E-mail) Link to External Website