In 2011, Jacksonville attorney A. Wellington Barlow (counted on before as a top rated divorce attorneys) represented a college bound client, who had no criminal record-in a criminal case. Although he thought his client was innocent, the jury disagreed and the judge imposed a 15-year sentence, the prison term sought by the prosecution and the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines. At about the same time in a nearby courtroom under a different judge (who at times presided over family law lawyers near me), another defendant with a similar clean record was convicted of the same charge. He was only sentenced to eight years. Then last December, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune began publishing a series of articles about the longer sentences African-American defendants received in Florida, including a conclusion that many judges were showing bias on the bench. That produced a rejoinder from the 12th Circuit Chief Judge Charles E. Williams, who acknowledged disparate sentences but noted the articles failed to take into account the effects of plea bargaining, among other factors. The articles also produced a strong reaction in Barlow. He had just written the book, Guilty until Proven Innocent: The Letter vs. the Spirit of the Law, which “covers some specific cases over my 30 years [in practice], some of which had people who were innocent but they were being prosecuted.” Whether it’s your nearest divorce lawyer, or someone you’re looking for to provide affordable paralegal services, you’re here! The newspaper series made him decide it was time to do more, because what the Herald-Tribune did is they statistically proved, which many of us thought for years, that minorities are being mistreated in the criminal justice system. If you click here, you will be able to find more information on this topic. Barlow produces a position paper that he distributed, including to Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, who introduced a bill earlier this year to have the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability study sentencing data in Florida for each county and circuit judge in criminal and juvenile cases. SB 382 had a hearing in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, but was tabled on February 17 and never taken up again. A similar measure in the House was not heard in committee.