Over fifty years ago, in the case of Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that evidence which tends to negate guilt or mitigate (lessen) the sentence of an accused must be disclosed to him prior to trial. Unfortunately, time and again this evidence is not disclosed as it should be. The problem arises because it is the prosecutor who decides whether such evidence should be disclosed. Courts become involved only when a motion is filed by the defense. Often counsel for the defendant will be unaware that exculpatory evidence exists.
If organizers are successful, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote to amend the Constitution of Florida to allow ill Floridians legal access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. United for Care, a grassroots organization, is currently collecting signatures to ensure that Floridians get the chance to vote on medical marijuana in 2014.
Injunctions, sometimes referred to as "restraining orders," are court orders prohibiting an individual from having contact with the alleged victim of violence. The individual seeking protection who files the petition for injunction is called the "Petitioner," and the individual restrained by the court is called the "Respondent." Four types of civil injunctions exist in Florida: (1) domestic violence, (2) sexual violence, (3) dating violence, and (4) repeat violence. These injunctions have different requirements based on the facts of an individual case.
An issue which frequently arises at a criminal sentencing hearing is whether or not the defendant has shown "remorse." It has been our experience that most individuals charged with an offense are, in fact, remorseful. If a person elects to require the State to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial, however, the State often argues the defendant has failed to exhibit the appropriate level of remorse. It then uses the defendant's exercise of the constitutional right to trial as a way to impose a greater sentence if the defendant is convicted.
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.