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.
Our own Bill Sheppard and Betsy White are featured in an article written by The Florida Times Union about the state's prohibition against same-sex marriage. The weddings of thousands of gay and lesbian couples throughout Florida since January 6th were made possible in part because of the groundbreaking lawsuit brought by Sheppard and White.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida was established in 1962. During its existence, numerous important civil rights and constitutional cases have been litigated in its courtrooms. Bill Sheppard and Betsy White have been fortunate to be in the forefront of much of this litigation. They recount their experiences in two articles recently published in The Florida Historical Quarterly,Vol. 92 (Fall 2013).
On September 12, 2013, the First District Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Niles' conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation on the grounds that he was denied his right to speedy trial. This appeal was litigated and argued by Mr. Sheppard with Ms. White as his co-counsel.
Marc Doggett was charged by indictment with conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine. He called me and made an appointment a few days after he had been arrested in Reston, Virginia. The case itself was in Jacksonville, Florida, so he came to Jacksonville and hired us. I'm not altogether clear how Mr. Doggett found me, but the minute I met him, I knew what his avenue of escape from the clutches of the United States might be. I recall meeting with Marc in the conference room in the afternoon and, during the course of our conversation, I had the folks in the office retrieve a closed file in the case of United States v. A.J.B.1 AJB's case involved the very same issue as Doggett's: the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. I had won AJB's case on a motion to dismiss before the Honorable Charles R. Scott, United States Federal District Judge for the Middle District of Florida. The difference between the two cases was that Mr. Doggett's delay was far longer than AJB's (8-1/2 years versus 32 months).