Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hurling pro bono publico

The Florida Justice Institute and the Florida Bar Foundation have teamed up to help indigent defendants and new lawyers to find each other with some interesting side effects.

During her opening trial statement, Sherylle Gordon was so nervous that she felt nauseous. The 36-year-old Miami law firm associate was arguing a civil rights case in April 2005 before U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas and a 12-person jury. She says she kept thinking about how her client, convicted felon Henry LaFavors, was counting on her to prove his claim that Broward Sheriff's Office deputies allowed a police dog to attack and injure him during his arrest on outstanding felony warrants even though he had already been subdued.

It was new territory for Gordon, a commercial litigator at Clarke Silverglate Campbell Williams & Montgomery. She had no civil rights law experience and no experience as lead attorney in a jury trial. "You go in and you think, 'I'm going to hurl,' " Gordon recalled with a laugh. "But every day it got better." Gordon got that trial experience through the Volunteer Lawyers' Program, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Florida Justice Institute and partly funded by The Florida Bar Foundation. The program provides private legal representation to hundreds of indigent Floridians each year in civil and criminal cases. Since 1978, the Florida Justice Institute has brought class action lawsuits in areas such as housing discrimination and prisoner civil rights.

The entire article is here. Any program that has Ben Reid of Carlton Fields in it is going to be good. He is one heckuva trial lawyer.


Anonymous Truth said...

You forgot to mention she LOST because the case was all a LIE.

2:52 PM  

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