In Maryland v. King, ___ U.S. ___ (June 3, 2013) the Court upheld the warrantless swabbing of individuals arrested for what the Court characterized as "serious" offenses. Left open by the Court's decision are the questions of 1) what constitutes a serious offense; and 2) whether the warrantless seizure of DNA samples is permissible for individuals convicted of misdemeanor offenses, which, by definition, can result in incarceration of one year or less. Unfortunately, as the result of the Court's sweeping language in the King decision, lower courts may have a difficult time in distinguishing between a "serious" offense justifying the warrantless sampling of DNA evidence and the routine misdemeanors for which hundreds of thousands of people are arrested for or convicted of every year in this country. Thus, what the Court apparently views as a non-intrusive law enforcement practice may have a much greater impact on the constitutional rights of individuals than the Court could have envisioned, a problem highlighted by Justice Scalia in his dissent.
An attorney-client partnership is an important one. There are going to be ups and downs in your relationship. You want and need to be comfortable at the outset so you can be comfortable when your case comes to a conclusion. If you can't like and respect your attorney, the relationship will fall apart.
Attorneys William Sheppard, Elizabeth L. White, Matthew R. Kachergus & Bryan E. DeMaggio have been admitted to the Southern District of Florida.
I am often asked why so many criminal defense attorneys oppose the death penalty. Beside the fact that the death penalty is grossly ineffective, with the cost of capital litigation far exceeding that of imprisonment for life, defense practitioners see up close and personal the individuals who ultimately receive a sentence of death. The poor, the disenfranchised, those unable to obtain adequate legal representation are the disproportionate "beneficiaries" of the death penalty lottery.
In a case of great significance, this week the Florida Supreme Court rejected the use of evidence obtained through the warrantless search of a cell phone. In Smallwood v. Florida, ___ So.3d ___, 38 Fla.L.Weekly 5271a (Fla. May 2, 2013), a case originating in Duval County, the accused was charged with armed robbery of a convenience store. After identifying a potential suspect in the robbery, an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Smallwood and, during the course of his arrest, seized a cell phone from him. Without first obtaining a search warrant, the officer proceeded to access and search data on the phone, which led to the discovery of five photographs allegedly linking Mr. Smallwood to the robbery. These photographs were admitted at Mr. Smallwood's trial and he was convicted.
Sheppard, White and Kachergus, P.A. proudly announces the addition of Jonathan Graessle to the firm. Mr. Graessle joined the firm in 2013, after clerking with the firm every summer during law school. Mr. Graessle graduated from the Bolles School in 2005. A "Double Gator," he attended the University of Florida, as a Florida Academic Scholar, where he earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, in political science. He also received a certificate in public leadership from the Bob Graham Center. He then earned his law degree, again with honors, from the University of Florida College of Law.
When I first began practicing criminal defense law in 1980, it was literally a different world. We were a band of brothers1 seeking justice for our clients. We were in it for love, not money,2 and truly believed our efforts mattered. And you know what? They did matter. Whether it was keeping a young kid out of jail for smoking weed or stopping an imminent execution, our collective efforts made a difference to the lives of countless people.
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.
On February 22, 2013, Bill Sheppard will be lecturing at George Mason University School of Law discussing representation of veterans in state criminal proceedings at a day-long seminar entitled "Representation of Combat Veterans in the Criminal Justice System". This event is being presented by the Veterans Law Section and the Criminal Law Section of the Federal Bar Association and co-sponsored by the District of Columbia, Maryland, Northern Virginia and Pentagon Chapters of the Federal Bar Association.
If someone calls you claiming to work for a regulatory or law enforcement agency and inquiring as to past online pharmacy purchases or demanding you pay a fine because you made such purchases, please be aware that there is a good chance you are being scammed. Do not talk to this person, do not send them money and do not provide them banking information. Immediately hang up the phone and call an attorney.