Sheppard, White, & Kachergus was recently mentioned in the Jacksonville Daily Record for the pro bono work that we do:
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.
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.
Most people are aware they have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when they are being questioned by law enforcement. What many people do not know, however, is that in some circumstances, the privilege must be expressly involved and, if it is not invoked, the failure to answer specific police questions can be used against them later. In those instances, silence is not golden and can be introduced as evidence of guilt at trial.
Mr. Sheppard, Ms. White and Mr. Kachergus have been recognized best attorneys in their fields (white collar criminal defense, non-white collar criminal defense and appellate practice). Additionally, Mr. Sheppard has been recognized in Best Lawyers in five categories: first amendment law, appellate practice, white collar and non-white collar criminal defense and employment law-individuals. Recognition in such a large number of practice areas is extremely uncommon and is evidence of the passion that Mr. Sheppard brings to the practice of law. He and Ms. White have been selected for recognition by The Best Lawyers for at least the past twenty years. Mr. Kachergus has been recognized in his fields for in excess of the last five years.
Section 760.065, Florida Statutes, creates the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Recently, the Florida Commission on Human Relations has selected its top nominees for induction and has forwarded those names to the Governor for consideration. Mr. Sheppard is humbled to have been selected for nomination for this honor, especially since this is the inaugural year of the award.
If you are ever asked by law enforcement officials for permission to search anything, our best advice is to say "no", and ask for your attorney. Each of us has the Constitutional right to deny a search that is not called for by a warrant. We also have the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer. If you say "no", consent can be sorted out later. But if you say "yes", you waive your Constitutional right. What's done cannot be undone.
In addition to representing our clients in their individual cases, one of the most gratifying experiences to the members of this firm is to prevail on a constitutional issue which benefits thousands of criminally accused defendants. Over twenty -one years ago, we were honored to have successfully argued Doggett vs. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992) before the United States Supreme Court. Doggetthas become the bedrock case when courts are determining whether a person's Sixth Amendment right to speedy arrest has been violated, and has been cited in thousands of decisions on this issue.
We are often asked whether police officers have the right to approach a person's home without a warrant and then use what they observe to search the home. Generally, in the absence of "no trespassing" signs or fences, officers have the right to engage in what is referred to a "knock and talk" of a home, that is they have the right to walk on the sidewalk of your home, knock on your front door and engage you in a "consensual encounter." They do not have the right to conduct warrantless searches of your property. Nor do they have the right to enter into your backyard. In fact, the right to engage you is extremely limited. Law enforcement personnel often exceed the authority given to them under the walk and talk doctrine. This article discusses two cases which have limited the ability of police officers to conduct warrantless searches in the curtilage of your home and what you should do to protect yourself from unlawful searches and seizures on your property.
Ask most people whether billions of dollars should be spent arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for marijuana offenses and the answer will be a resounding "no." Recent polling in Florida indicates over 70% of the state's voters favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, which is what makes a just released study by the American Civil Liberties Union entitled The War on Marijuana in Black and White so disturbing. Not only are we spending more money every year trying to lock people up for smoking a plant, we are doing so based on race.