Can you imagine being behind bars for four decades for a crime you didn't commit? That's what happened to Jacksonville natives Clifford Williams and Nathan Myers when their defense attorney didn't push to present the jury with evidence that would have proven their innocence. Their case was recently overturned on the basis of legal malpractice with the assistance of State Attorney Melissa Nelson, head of Florida's first conviction integrity unit.
According to Jacksonville.com, the two men were arrested and charged with the murder of Jeanette Williams in 1976. Their defense attorney failed to make sure the jury was shown evidence that would have proven the eyewitness who placed them at the crime was lying. Among those findings was that the ballistics report of the bullets found at the scene did not align with the witness's account. Along with the evidence, there were also several family members that were willing to testify that both Clifford Williams and Nathan Myers were at a party nearby, but the jury never got to hear those testimonies.
What is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice is defined as when an attorney handles a case inappropriately due to negligence or with intent to harm and causes damages to a client. The type of legal malpractice that took place during this case wasn't done with intent to harm the clients, but it did contribute to their convictions and damages. Legal malpractice can have a devastating effect on you and your family, especially if it causes someone to serve time for a crime they didn't commit.
What Can You Do If Your Defense Attorney Commits Legal Malpractice?
Your defense attorney should always have your best interest at the top of their list and they should always be sure they are aware of all of the evidence involved in your case. If you feel that the outcome of your case would have been different due to evidence that your defense attorney failed to acknowledge or to present to the court, give Russell Spatz a call at (305) 442-0200 to schedule a consultation.
Legal Malpractice. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.justia.com/injury/legal-malpractice/
Pantazi, A., & Pantazi, A. (2019, March 29). Jacksonville men freed 43 years after wrongful murder conviction, a first for a Florida conviction review unit. Retrieved from https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190328/jacksonville-men-freed-43-years-after-wrongful-murder-conviction-first-for-florida-conviction-review-unit