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.
We are frequently asked how to respond when a police officer asks for consent to search your vehicle. Our emphatic response is "Just Say No!" By consenting to the search of your vehicle, you forfeit your right to challenge the search of your vehicle, and anything found within it can be used against you if you are charged with a crime. In order to search your vehicle the police officer must have probable cause to search it, or exigent circumstances must exist to do so. Police cannot search your car just because you have been arrested. If an officer thinks he or she has the right to search your vehicle, there is no reason to request your consent. Asking to search your vehicle is an implicit admission that the officer does not have cause to do so.
William J. "Bill" Sheppard is a criminal trial attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida. For the past forty-four years, he has built a reputation as an eminent civil rights, criminal defense and appellate attorney. He is well known for handling cases involving police misconduct, police shootings and the First Amendment to our nation's Constitution in state and federal court. He has also taken on a number of race, age and gender discrimination cases. Bill's interest in vindicating his clients' rights has led him to argue before the United States Supreme Court. He has appeared in front of the court on three different instances, including his successful augment in Doggett v. United States in 1992. One of Bill's greatest successes as an attorney was when he litigated Florida's momentous statewide prison conditions case, which produced considerable improvements in sufficient care for those who were incarcerated. Whether it's a complicated white-collar defense case or death penalty case, Bill has successfully exonerated his clients for the past four decades he's been practicing law
After yet another incomprehensible act of violence, people around the country are wondering what can be done to prevent the death of more innocent people. Certainly, the accessibility of guns with the capacity to inflict maximum damage to maximum numbers of people must be addressed. As someone who has seen the unavailability of accessible care, however, the issue I would like to address is how we treat - or don't treat - people with serious mental health issues.
William J. Sheppard invited to speak on veteran's rights at Federal Bar Association annual meeting
"It has always been the belief of the members of this firm that the use of mandatory minimum sentences is wrong. The imposition of a lengthy prison sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense, is contrary to any civilized notion of justice. Judge Bennett, a federal district judge sitting in Iowa, has been a fierce critic of such sentences and the following article presents one of the most persuasive arguments we have read about the injustice which accompanies these sentences."
Early Jail and Prison Conditions Litigation in the Middle District of Florida Today jails and prisons throughout the Middle District of Florida are hardly places a person would want to spend the night. However, those currently incarcerated in the Middle District of Florida ("Middle District") have had many rights secured for them which did not exist prior to the existence of the Middle District. The story of prison reform in the Middle District illustrates the power hardworking, courageous pro se plaintiffs, attorneys, and judges can wield to ensure all inmates receive the constitutional liberties and protections to which they are entitled.