As one of the founders of Florida’s first integrated law firm, William J. “Bill” Sheppard has been highly regarded as a prominent criminal defense and civil rights attorney during his tenure practicing law. Throughout his career, he has argued cases at every level of the judicial system for protections and defenses against civil rights violations for countless individuals. He has successfully supported the causes of racial equality, while also successfully vindicating the rights of others.
Diligently fighting to support and defend civil rights during the early establishment of his firm, Sheppard invited African American Attorney, Henry Lee Adams, Jr. from the Public Defender’s Office of the Fourth Judicial Circuit to join their firm. Together they tried cases that protected against civil rights violations and upheld rulings enacted by the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sheppard credits Adams with teaching him how to be a “good criminal defense lawyer” and “maintaining the peace in what could be volatile” situations at the firm.
Sheppard fondly recalls his time with Adams at the firm as he speaks about multiple occasions when he and Adams felt the full weight of civil rights infringements – and one time in particular, that led to a victory for one of the first “Public Accommodations” cases in Jacksonville (a violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act, which was passed in 1968). View the video below for a thought-provoking account of Adams and Sheppard’s experiences:
In addition to practicing civil right law, Mr. Sheppard has been the recipient numerous awards including the Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union on two occasions. He has also received 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; and the Florida Bar Presidents Pro Bono Service 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.
In 2013, the Florida Commission on Human Relations selected its top nominees for induction into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame, for which Mr. Sheppard was nominated.
Sheppard, truly humbled by the nomination, vowed to continue his efforts in championing civil rights causes, protecting the rights of others, and defending violations against the civil liberties of others.
If our firm can help you, do not hesitate to contact us:
Sheppard, White & Kachergus, P.A.
215 Washington Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202