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Michelle Yard

Michelle YardMichelle Yard is a criminal defense attorney who is Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist and expert in Criminal Trial law. She has seventeen years’ experience defending criminal cases in Central Florida. She is a member of the Bar in the State of Florida, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court of the United States.

From 2015 to 2023, Michelle worked at the Federal Defender’s Office for the Middle District of Florida in the Orlando Division. At the Federal Defender’s Office, she represented individuals in federal jury trial cases on offenses including complex fraud, sexual, controlled substance, and firearm offenses. Michelle also worked as a Research and Writing Specialist Attorney in the Federal Defender’s Appellate Division defending individuals in federal appeals and post-conviction habeas cases. She has been granted oral arguments in front of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, following which she has obtained important reversals for her clients.

In 2016, the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (CFACDL) selected Michelle for its annual “Foot Soldier of the Constitution” award honoring one Central Florida criminal defense attorney “who exemplifies the actions of a true criminal defense lawyer by fighting for their client’s rights and improving the Criminal Justice system as a whole.”

From 2005 to 2015, Michelle worked as a trial and post-conviction attorney as a state Assistant Public Defender in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, Downtown Orlando Division, where she successfully tried cases from DUI to sexual battery to homicide. While an Assistant Public Defender, she also served as Training Director and worked on special litigation projects, including leading a comprehensive multi-year jury composition study, representing respondents in Baker Act proceedings, drafting extraordinary writs, defending complex RICO charges, and seeking post-conviction relief under Graham and Miller for many individuals serving life-without-parole sentences imposed for offenses the occurred when they were juveniles Graham and Miller – of which she secured some of the lowest resentences in the country.

Michelle has presented as a speaker at nationwide, state, and regional legal conferences and seminars, particularly on issues related to sentencing and sentencing reform. She currently serves as President of CFACDL, recently served as a Subject Matter Expert in Criminal Law for the Florida Board of Bar Examiner’s 2020–21 Legal Practice Analysis Panel, and previously served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Central Florida.

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