Reed Smith LLP filed the amicus brief on behalf of the Niskanen Center and
former Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes

For more information, contact Louisa Tavlas at

September 25, 2023, Miami, FL – The Niskanen Center has weighed in on Florida’s divisive “voter fraud” prosecution to support Defendant Ronald Miller, the Miami-Dade resident who voted in the 2020 election after receiving a voter ID card from the State, only to face prosecution almost two years later. The Niskanen Center was joined by former State Senator Jeff Brandes, who served in the Florida Senate from 2012 to 2022, and now leads the Florida Policy Project.

In August 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the prosecution of Miller and 19 other Floridians. The State contends that Miller’s past felony conviction disqualifies him from voting and that his act of voting violated the law, even though the State issued Miller a voter ID card shortly before the election.

In December 2022, the Miami-Dade Circuit Court dismissed the charges against Miller, reasoning that the Office of Statewide Prosecution—which lacks the authority to prosecute local offenses—did not have jurisdiction to prosecute Miller, who never left Miami-Dade County in seeking to register or in voting. The State has appealed that ruling.

The amicus brief urges the Florida Third District Court of Appeal to affirm the dismissal. The brief emphasizes that the State failed in its duties to determine the eligibility of voters. “Cynical weaponization of the justice system is a poor substitute for competent governance,” said Greg Newburn, director of criminal justice for the Niskanen Center and a Florida resident. “The State of Florida gave voter cards to people with felony convictions and never told them they weren’t qualified to vote legally. Now, state officials are using a legally improper prosecution to try to put some of those people in jail. The court should affirm the rule of law and put an end to this farce.”

“All of this could have been avoided had the State competently administered the law,” said former Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes. “It only makes matters worse that the State has pursued this case through the Office of Statewide Prosecution, which lacks the authority to prosecute cases of this variety.”

On appeal, the State has argued that a 2023 amendment to the statute governing the Statewide Prosecutor’s authority—which was enacted after the dismissal in this case—should be applied retroactively to the prosecution. Florida law, however, requires that new criminal laws be applied prospectively only, unless the Legislature expressly states otherwise. “Not only does the State overreach by prosecuting an alleged crime that the State itself facilitated, but the State endeavors to do so through an impermissible retroactive application of a law enacted only after the dismissal,” said Patrick Yingling of Reed Smith, who filed the amicus brief along with Miami-based Reed Smith attorney Paul Goodrich.

“It is both unjust and inefficient for the State to resort to criminal prosecution in an attempt to remedy its incompetence. Because of this, and because black-letter law fundamentally cuts against the State, in our brief we urge the Court to affirm the trial court’s holding and dismiss this hollow attempt at prosecution once and for all,” said Megan C. Gibson, chief counsel for the Niskanen Center.

About Reed Smith

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About the Niskanen Center

The Niskanen Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy think tank that advocates for the rule of law and a government that protects individual and societal freedoms. Named the “The Most Interesting Think Tank in America” by TIME Magazine in 2023, the Niskanen Center provides a constructive and optimistic response to the most daunting challenges Americans face in the 21st century, including dysfunctional bureaucracies, government overreach, and high rates of crime and incarceration. The Center is named for William (Bill) Niskanen, who served on the Council of Economic Advisers to President Ronald Reagan and later became chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cato Institute. For more information, please visit

About Jeff Brandes

Jeff Brandes is a former Florida State Senator who represented Florida’s 24th Senate District from 2012 to 2022. Prior to that, he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012. Senator Brandes now leads the Florida Policy Project, a nonprofit, bipartisan think tank that focuses on, among other things, criminal justice issues. For more information, please visit