The Sheppard, White, Kachergus, and DeMaggio team won another appeal in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals last week. The case involved race discrimination and retaliation claims against the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Our client, Captain Eric Mitchell, was the second-highest ranking officer at the department's training academy and was its only African-American employee at the time the incident occurred.
Florida's restoration of civil rights process is designed to make it virtually impossible for convicted felons to regain their fundamental constitutional rights, such as the right to vote. On February 1, 2018, Judge Walker, federal district judge for the Northern District of Florida declared the process to be unconstitutional. As politicians in Tallahassee continue to attempt to suppress the right to vote (see its recent efforts to tally a non-vote as a NO vote in constitutional amendments placed on the ballot for citizen consideration), it is now more important than ever that our federal courts reject these blatant efforts to diminish our voices. This is not a political issue; it is a matter of protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of all citizens in this state. Rather than continuing to discourage, and indeed, prevent people from exercising their constitutional right to vote, this governor and his legislature should be affirmatively looking for ways to make the ability to vote more, not less, inclusive. A copy of Judge Walker's opinion can be found here.
Prison guard abuse is an issue many might assume is no longer common in today's society; unfortunately, however, the problem persists in detention centers across the nation. Yet this problem is often a hidden one, making it all the more complex and dangerous. Families and friends, unaware of various forms of abuse that take place within prison walls, are horrified to find that their loved ones do not receive adequate protection and care. While mistreatment in Florida prisons can take many different forms, the reality that countless prisoners must face daily is one that cannot continue.
In the immediate wake of the Daniel Shaver shooting in Arizona, many Floridians are left confused and distraught; however, there is one aspect that is certain: police brutality is still a tremendous issue in America today. Unfortunately, there are countless who suffer at the hands of law enforcement, never to see justice served.
Over recent years, America has seen a drastic increase in the number of racial profiling incidents, especially on the country's roadways. Despite efforts to maintain and comply with human rights standards, this increase largely involves the apparent divide between law enforcement and non-white citizens. And despite the country's growing awareness of the issue, Florida is one of the highest-ranking states with racial injustice on the road.
William Sheppard and Betsy White were interviewed last week by the Bar Bulletin Staff of the Daily Record about the recently filed complaint against Chief Judge Mahon and Sheriff Mike Williams as it relates to the unfair bail practices against misdemeanants.
Most in Jacksonville have likely heard that famous line "You have the right to remain silent..." on TV or in movies. Many may already know that these are known as "Miranda Rights," yet few may understand what they mean and what protections they may offer suspects when being interrogated by police.
The use of dogs to sniff out contraband remains one of the most frequent methods by which police discover contraband in vehicles traveling on the highway. The Supreme Court has allowed such searches in limited circumstances, but only in those instances where there is not a delay between the stop and the dog's arrival. Anything beyond a brief delay constitutes a seizure, which requires probable cause to be lawful. This "time-limiting doctrine" was firmly adopted by the Supreme Court in Rodriguez v. United States.
In 1973, Congress enacted legislation which would later become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The act gives students with certain disabilities the right to a "free appropriate public education." Each student under IDEA is given an individualized education plan (IEP), which sets forth educational goals for the student and lays out a roadmap for services that will be provided to ensure disabled students can meet those goals. Under the IDEA, each IEP must ensure that disabled children are receiving sufficient help to make progress toward their education. If the IEP fails to provide such support, the IDEA allows parents to sue for tuition at a private school that can meet the student's needs.
The Fourth Amendment restricts when a police officer may stop a person. Generally, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime in order to stop them. When police officers conduct a traffic stop, there is no question that they are allowed detain the driver. But what happens if one of the passengers of the vehicle wants to leave in the middle of the stop?