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Home | Other Practice Areas: Civil Rights, Human Rights And Child Abuse

Other Practice Areas: Civil Rights, Human Rights And Child Abuse

Our Jacksonville Trial Attorneys Are Committed To Excellence

Spohrer Dodd consults on unique and sensitive cases, which are typically rejected by other law firms. Such cases require a high degree of discretion and tenacity. Our Jacksonville trial lawyers have successfully represented clients in human rights lawsuits involving the abuse of children by family members, foster parents, social institutions, religious officials and organizations. We also handle unique cases, such as the wrongful death of a prison inmate injured by violence and medical negligence and have successfully concluded complex cases involving the violation of our clients’ civil rights.

If you have a particularly complex case that requires our expert attention, call 904-309-6500. We offer a free consultation to discuss your needs and how we can help.

Human Rights And Civil Rights

While some firms shun unique human and civil rights cases as they may be socially undesirable, our attorneys do not hesitate to represent clients wherever an injustice has occurred. We take on these challenging cases because someone must speak for those without a voice in the legal system. Our case list also includes the representation of individuals and families in civil claims for damages arising out of homicides. One example of a unique case that the firm is currently engaged in is seeking justice for the family whose mother was murdered in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys Case Featured On Oprah

Johnnie Mae Chappell was the victim of racial violence and has become the first Floridian named as a Civil Rights martyr by the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s leading Civil Rights organizations. Her murder was originally solved by Jacksonville Sheriff’s office detectives Lee Cody and Don Coleman, but of the four men who confessed and were indicted by a grand jury for the murder, only one has ever been convicted or served time, and that was on a charge of manslaughter.

In a news conference on October 11, 2005, Bob Spohrer announced that he was pledging his time and the firm’s resources “pro bono” on behalf of Johnnie Mae’s son, Shelton Chappell, and the other surviving members of her family. He said, “The legal system failed this family 40 years ago, and we will not fail them now. While we cannot guarantee the outcome, the Chappell’s deserve their day in court. We are committed to helping the Chappell family to find closure about this after all these years.”

Since taking the case, Mr. Spohrer has worked continuously with state and federal law enforcement and government officials to get the case reopened and the defendants brought to court for their alleged perpetration of this crime. The case is ongoing at present and has captured the attention of such national and Florida media outlets as The Miami Herald, The St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Times-Union, and NBC’s Dateline news program. The human rights case was also featured in a segment of the Oprah Show on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21st of 2008.

Child Abuse

As an illustration of the issues facing our society and being felt by our children, here are some facts that emerged from a recent study conducted by Florida’s Children First, a statewide children’s advocacy organization:

  • An estimated 43,480 children are in the custody of Florida’s Department of Children & Family Services.
  • Florida is last among all 50 states in high school graduation rates.
  • Over 1,200 foster care youth leave custody each year. They are immediately dismissed from the care and protection of the state upon turning eighteen without learning the life skills most children learn in stable homes.
  • More than half the children in therapeutic foster care are on psychotropic medications. Children as young as one year old are given these mind altering drugs that have not been approved for children.
  • Children in foster care change schools two or three times a year. This instability leads to lower grades and an inability to participate in school activities.
  • According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, in 2003, there were 32.3 victims of maltreatment per 1,000 children in Florida. The same study determined that 8.8 percent of the children were abused again within 6 months.
  • An estimated 20% of children and youth in foster care are developmentally disabled and may not be receiving proper services.

Dedicated Advocates For Children’s Rights

Our trial lawyers at Spohrer Dodd are dedicated and aggressive advocates on behalf of children who have suffered physical or sexual abuse. We have extensive knowledge of the intricacies of Florida’s troubled foster care system, but our representation of children encompasses harm suffered by children both in and out of foster care. In 2005, Helen Spohrer developed the Permanency Project for Duval County’s Guardian Ad Litem Program to expedite adoptions for children in foster care.

The Permanency Project was funded by a grant from The Florida Bar Foundation and the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program and was designed to identify and overcome obstacles for children languishing in foster care. She was a speaker at the 2007 Summit for Children in New York, and is currently a subcommittee member for the Florida Supreme Court Steering Committee on Families and Children in Court, and a board member of the Florida Adoption Council.

Offering Children Caring And Experienced Legal Representation

The legal rights of children are all too frequently compromised or under-represented in today’s world. While children are perhaps our most precious resource, their share of voice in the legal system is quite small. When children are the victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination, they need advocates to speak for them. At Spohrer Dodd Trial Attorneys, our Jacksonville child advocacy lawyers are dedicated to protecting and promoting children’s legal rights in domestic, educational, institutional, medical, and social circumstances. We handle a wide range of legal cases related to children’s rights, including sovereign immunity litigation, foster care and adoption, personal injury, sexual and other abuses.

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For more information about our specialized practice areas, call 904-309-6500 or contact us online.