Recently, our office had the pleasure of assisting a man who was seeking presidential clemency for a non-violent drug offense. We were shocked to find out later that this man was a war hero who had been sentenced prior to the amendments to U.S.S.G. §5H1.11 which allowed military service to be considered in determining whether a departure is warranted. With the client's permission, we would like to share with you an excerpted portion of the clemency package we prepared on his behalf, along with the video we shot at our office on Veteran's day.
As a veteran of the Korean Conflict, Mr. Sheppard has spent many years fighting for the rights of this country's veterans. Although returning veterans are entitled by law in Florida to preference in hiring, retention and promotion by state and local governments, these statutory requirements are often overlooked or disregarded. On August 19, 2013, Mr. Sheppard argued Brennan v. City of Miami, before the Third District Court of Appeal. The issue before the Court was whether the City could require an already hired employee to re-prove his veteran status to his employer prior to obtaining the benefits of the law's promotion preference. Once again, Mr. Sheppard engaged the appellate court in a lively discussion. A video of Mr. Sheppard's argument has been posted below. A decision from the Third District is pending.
In United States v. Padilla, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), the United States Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires attorneys to inform their non-citizen clients of the immigration consequences of entering a guilty plea in criminal cases. In many situations, entering such a plea, even in a misdemeanor case, can result in deportation. An order of deportation can occur many years after the guilty plea, much to the surprise of the client. Padilla recognized that a lawyer who fails to advise their client of the potential for deportation is not competent, so that a plea entered without such advice is not a voluntary plea and therefore, can be vacated. A question left open by the Padilla decision was whether it was retroactive, meaning a person whose plea was entered before Padilla became final could also vacate their plea if not properly advised.
William J. Sheppard invited to speak on veteran's rights at Federal Bar Association annual meeting