The AAJ Civil Rights Section presents the Leonard Weinglass in Defense of Civil Liberties Award, annually, to honor an attorney or a civil rights advocate who has made a noteworthy contribution to the defense of our civil rights and civil liberties bringing, trying, or resolving a suit, or by otherwise protecting or advancing civil liberties, in a way that has had a significant impact.
This year’s recipient is William “Bill” J. Sheppard of Jacksonville, Florida. Attorney Sheppard has advocated in defense of civil liberties for almost 50 years. Throughout the course of his career, he has worked to uphold anti-discrimination statutes, and litigated numerous prison reform cases advocating for the constitutional rights of the incarcerated, including improved conditions in Florida prisons. Attorney Sheppard has argued three cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992), in which he successfully argued for his client’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Additionally, in Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278 (2014), Attorney Sheppard contributed towards the fight for marriage equality, by successfully challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage.
William J. Sheppard received his award on July, 22nd at the American Association for Justice Annual Convention in Los Angeles