Monday, December 14, 2015

Open Letter to the Editor

We previously posted about our client, Leonard Dillard whose Motion for Immunity from Prosecution was granted by the Honorable Judge Soud in Duval County, Florida.  Mr. Dillard's story was told again on Sunday, November 21, 2015, when Larry Hannan from the Florida Times-Union wrote an excellent article on the immunity statute in Florida knows as "Stand Your Ground."   The article questions the prudence of Stand Your Ground, and  quotes Charles Rose, from the Center for Excellence in Advocacy at Stetson University College of Law, and accomplished writer who claims that Stand Your Ground doesn't work. Here is our response:

"On my desk sits a framed verdict. Two years into practice, I had a client who was innocent. I don't mean that the State of Florida could not meet their burden at trial. I mean that he should have never been charged. I filed a motion for Immunity under Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes, which was improperly denied. Then Mr. Chavarrio Thaxton was acquitted at trial. I think about Mr. Thaxton every day and what his case taught me- there are actually innocent men and women in the Duval County jail.  Rarely are their stories heard, but our duty as criminal defense attorneys is to use every available tool to correct the errors of prosecutors who presume guilt and rarely get an unbiased versions of events prior to filing charges.

"Our firm has been looking forward to last Sunday's article ever since Mr.  Hannan sat down with Mr. Dillard nearly a year ago.  When I read the article, I was shocked and angered by my former professor, Charlie Rose's comment that filing for Immunity is tantamount to malpractice.  Mr. Rose heads up the Center for Excellence in Advocacy from which I graduated at the #1 school for advocacy in the country- Stetson University College of Law.   For an attorney in that position to make such a comment is reckless as it dissuades vibrant attorneys who are willing to exhaust all options when it's truly appropriate.

"Stand Your Ground is for innocent people. Typically, you don't hear about the people who are immune under the Statute. Law enforcement considers the facts and never arrests those people using the same law.

"Mr. Rose is wrong. If you know how to use this tool, it works. My law partner, Belkis Plata who is quoted in the article and I have a mere five years of experience. We each represented more than 2000 men, women and children while serving as Assistant Public Defenders. Of those, we have each represented at least one innocent person, and their names are included in the 12 men and women who prevailed with after filing for Immunity under Stand Your Ground."

We believe that Stand Your Ground immunity works if used properly. It's not intended for every defendant, which explains the rate of failure.  We understand when it is appropriate, which is why we have represented more than 16% of the people who prevailed in Duval County. 

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime and believe you are entitled to immunity, call us today or visit 

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