Jacksonville Attorney: William J. "Bill" Sheppard
William J. Sheppard, a board certified criminal trial lawyer, has established a reputation as a preeminent criminal defense, civil rights, and appellate attorney during his more than forty years practicing law by committing both himself and his practice to his clients. Mr. Sheppard is known for representing the famous, the infamous, and the unknown alike. Throughout his career, he has fought at every level of the judicial system for individuals' protections against violations of their rights, whether by searches, internet or other electronic surveillance, restrictions on freedoms of speech and religion, or violations of the rights of prisoners to receive humane treatment. He has litigated virtually every type of criminal case conceivable from death penalty cases to complex white collar defense in state and federal court.
Mr. Sheppard prepares meticulously for any task at hand. He understands that only the most extensive preparation will result in effective representation of his clients during litigation and negotiation. In order to be thorough, Mr. Sheppard also makes sure that he knows and understands his clients, as well as the circumstances that have resulted in their need for legal representation. Whether a case must be fought in the courtroom or resolved through negotiation, Mr. Sheppard brings nothing short of the most thorough preparation, skill and diligence for the protection of his clients' interests.
After serving as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army in Korea, Mr. Sheppard graduated from the University of Florida College of Law, where he served as Executive Editor of the Florida Law Review. Mr. Sheppard began his legal career in the fields of real estate and banking, before founding his own firm, which he dedicated to the pursuit of criminal defense and civil rights advocacy. As a result, Sheppard has litigated Florida's landmark statewide jail conditions case on behalf of inmates in the county and municipal jails in the State of Florida, producing substantial improvements to the provision of adequate care for those in custody, which further resulted in him successfully attaining the protection of those same basic human rights for state prisoners throughout Florida. He has also established himself as a distinguished criminal defense lawyer and championed the causes of racial equality, while also successfully vindicating the rights of others, including the blind and people with disabilities. To witness Mr. Sheppard's impact on the law, one needs to look no further than the more than the 300 published opinions, which he litigated, most of which were handled by the firm from the trial level through appeal.
His pursuit of the vindication of his clients' rights has resulted in his having argued before the United States Supreme Court on three different occasions, including in Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992), which established that a delay between indictment and arrest can violate the constitutional right to a speedy trial. Because of such accomplishments, Mr. Sheppard has been recognized by his peers through such accolades as his long-standing "AV" Martindale-Hubbell rating and his listing in Best Lawyers in America in the fields of appellate law, first amendment law, labor and employment law, non-white-collar criminal defense law, and white-collar criminal defense law, and through his listing in Florida Super Lawyers. Further, he is a Master of the Bench Emeritus in the Chester Bedell Inn of Court and a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
His accomplishments have been further recognized by his appointments to membership on the Florida Governor's Advisory Committee on Corrections, the Middle District of Florida Civil Justice Reform Act Commission, and a term as chair for the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Additionally, Mr. Sheppard has been recognized by his receipt of several awards including the Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union on two occasions.
He has received the Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a lawyer by the legal profession in Florida; the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award, which is given annually by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court to the attorney in Florida who has given the most outstanding pro bono service; the Selig l. Goldin Memorial Award, which is presented annually by the Criminal Law Section of the Florida Bar for making significant contribution to the criminal justice system of the State of Florida; and the Steven M. Goldstein Criminal Justice Award, the highest honor awarded by the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
He has also received the Distinguished Service award presented by the National Federation of the Blind; the Civil and Human Rights award from the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies; the Mary L. Singleton Justice, Peace and Social Harmony Memorial Award. Recently, he was the recipient of the First Coast Coalition's Humanitarian Award, which recognized Mr. Sheppard's support and ingenuity to the civil rights movement.
Mr. Sheppard has litigated cases throughout the country and is admitted to The Florida Bar; U.S. District Courts for the Middle, Northern, and Southern Districts of Florida; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; and U.S. Tax Court.
|Professional Associations||The Florida Bar(1968); National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Jacksonville Bar Association; The National Trial Lawyers; Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; The American College of Trial Lawyers; Chester Bedell Inn of Court, Master Emeritus|
|Awards||2009 Humanitarian Award presented by the First Coast Coalition; 2004 The Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor Award; 2001 Steven M. Goldstein Criminal Justice Award; 2000 Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award presented by the ACLU; 1993 Selig Goldin Memorial Award; 1990 Civil & Human Rights Award; 1985 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award presented by the President of the Florida Bar; 1982 Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award presented by the ACLU; 1978 National Federation of the Blind of Florida Distinguished Service Award; Florida Legal Elite|
|Certifications & Ratings||Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar; Super Lawyer; Martindale Hubbell (AV) - 30 Years; Best Lawyers in America (2010, 2012, 2014); Non-White Collar Criminal Defense; First Amendment Law; Labor & Employment Law; Appellate Law; White Collar Criminal Defense|
|Video||William J. Sheppard reflects on becoming a Criminal Defense Attorney with Henry Lee Adams, Jr.|