Foley Attorneys Win New Trial for Pro Bono Client in Florida Supreme Court Ruling

17 April 2015 Media Contact: Dan Farrell News
Foley & Lardner LLP attorneys Michael Matthews and Larry Dougherty secured a new trial for pro bono client Joseph Bearden. The Florida Supreme Court agreed Thursday with Matthews and Dougherty that the trial court improperly excluded a confession that was key evidence for Bearden’s defense. Bearden is currently serving a life sentence in Florida prison on disputed charges of being present at the scene of a murder. The Court held that the trial judge improperly evaluated the credibility of a key witness’ testimony, wrongly decided that Bearden’s statement was not adequate corroboration for another suspect’s confession under the U.S. Supreme Court case of Chambers v. Mississippi, and improperly prevented Bearden from cross-examining the other suspect. After being appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to represent Bearden pro bono, Matthews and Dougherty led a Foley team that included the late John Hamilton, Natasha Dorsey, Chris Griffin, Nick Williams, and Robin Ferriss. All told, more than a dozen Foley & Lardner attorneys, paralegals, and researchers logged a thousand hours on the case that resulted in Thursday’s ruling.

The text of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling can be found here.

A video of Matthews’ and Dougherty’s argument in front of the Florida Supreme Court can be found here.