Stephen A. Strickland
Stephen A. Strickland
I have been practicing for over twenty years in the areas of civil and criminal law in Alabama's state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels. I have the knowledge, experience and record of results to provide you with the advice and representation you need. I am a Birmingham attorney, but I practice throughout Alabama.
I am a determined fighter for my clients who does not rest until my clients receive justice or I have done everything possible within the bounds of the law and an ethical representation to achieve excellent results.
I started working as a law clerk for Richard Jaffe in 1987 when Mr. Jaffe was a partner at Jaffe, Burton & Digiorgio, P.C., and I became an associate there in 1990 upon graduation from law school. When Richard Jaffe decided to establish his own practice, I followed Mr. Jaffe as an associate and later became his partner at Jaffe & Strickland, P.C. Later, Derek Drennan and Hube Dodd would become associates and then partners at Jaffe, Strickland, Drennan & Dodd, P.C. I was in charge of writing most of the firm’s appellate briefs, and I ran all aspects of the civil litigation side for the firm, including case management, complex discovery, motions practice, depositions, trials, and appeals, when necessary. Most of the civil cases that I have handled were on behalf of injured individuals but I have also successfully represented businesses as well.
I am currently a solo practitioner, but both Hube Dodd and I remain as "of counsel" with Jaffe & Drennan, P.C. We were co-counsel for the Honorable Bernard Kincaid, Mayor for the City of Birmingham – 2000-2008. In addition, Richard Jaffe and I worked with Barry Scheck and his organization, The Innocence Project, to obtain the release of an inmate through DNA evidence.
In Alabama, five Death Row inmates have been exonerated and are now free. Our firm was the only firm in the country to free three men from death row through new trials. My former partners Richard Jaffe and Derek Drennan were the lead trial counsel in three of the exoneration cases: State of Alabama v. Randal Padgett, State of Alabama v. James (Bo) Cochran, and State of Alabama v. Gary Drinkard. I successfully represented Wesley Quick, the 5th exoneree, on his appeal. Hence, four of the five exonerated Death Row inmates were represented by our firm.
I am a successful negotiator, mediator, and litigator, and I have obtained many favorable settlements and verdicts for my clients. I have a long string of successes regarding sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace, jail suicides, automobile and truck accidents, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, serious personal injuries, malicious prosecution, and civil rights abuses.
I have won numerous civil and criminal appeals, including double jeopardy victories in 2010 in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. I have written over 100 civil and criminal briefs before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, and the Alabama Supreme Court.
I have worked on numerous death penalty cases, including Walter Leroy Moody (legal research), Eric Rudolph (some research and represented civil litigation), Brandon Mitchell (Birmingham Thanksgiving murders – court appointed direct appeal), Michael Lewis (direct appeal), Joseph Wilson (Huntsville cell phone murders – represented in post conviction), James McWilliams (post conviction state and federal), Charles Gregory Clark (direct appeal and post-conviction), Mohammad Sharifi (Iranian convicted of capital murder of his wife and her friend – direct appeal and filed state rule 32 petition), O.M. v. State (Gadsden fire bomb murder – after he won his direct appeal of juvenile transfer, case was remanded and dismissed), Leroy White (hired UAB linguistic expert, cert granted by Alabama Supreme Court and then quashed due to United States Supreme Court decision regarding substantial doubt jury instructions), Wesley Quick (I won his appeal and he was later acquitted at his new trial), Merrill v. State (death sentence changed to life without parole), and Jermaine Robinson (charged with capital murder before Supreme Court's juvenile decision years later).
I am married to the former Torrey Scott of Fultondale, Alabama. We have five children - Patrick Timothy Strickland and Peyton Daniel Strickland from my first marriage - and Ember Raine Pugliese, Gregory Scott Pugliese, and Lawrence James Pugliese.
Top accomplishments during my legal career
Exonerated Death Penalty Client
Quick v. State, 825 So.2d 246 (Ala.Crim.App. 2001) (death penalty appellate victory)
On appeal, an indigent capital murder defendant who had been given the death penalty was given a new trial due to the State failing to give our client a free copy of the transcript from his first trial that ended in a mistrial. Wesley Quick was acquitted (found not guilty) at his new trial.
U.S. Steel Ligation
Doug Jones successfully represented A.G. Langston when he, and others, were falsely accused of stealing from U.S. Steel. After Doug Jones became the United States Attorney for the Northern District, Richard Jaffe and I took over A.G. Langston's case and sued U. S. Steel and the other responsible parties for malicious prosecution. After extensive litigation and a jury was selected, the case settled.
Shoney's Sexual Harassment Litigation
I represented several teenage employees that were sexually harassed at a Shoney's restaurant. The restaurant's insurance company hired attorneys to represent the restaurant and the sexual harassers. In addition, the insurance company filed a separate lawsuit claiming that it did not have a duty to defend or pay if there was a verdict under the theory that sexual harassment was an intentional injury and was not covered under the insurance policy.
One of the attorneys representing the restaurant and the sexual harassers made me so mad that I taught myself insurance law and vigorously fought the insurance company's attempt to avoid responsibility for having to pay for the sexual harassment.
After extensive litigation in both cases, the attorneys that were hired to represent the restaurant and the sexual harassers filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed and lost on all causes of action including outrage, which is very hard to win under. On the same day, the federal court held that the insurance company had to defend and possibly pay if there was a verdict for my clients in their sexual harassment lawsuit. See Sphere Drake Ins. P.L.C. v. Shoney's Inc., 923 F.Supp. 1481 (M.D.Ala. 1996). After both decisions came out and a jury was selected, the case settled.
Gadsden Firebombing Case
O.M. v. State, 595 So.2d 514 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991) (appellate victory regarding juvenile transfer hearings)
A minor was charged with capital murder and the State sought to have him transferred from juvenile court to circuit court to be tried as an adult.
In a Landmark case creating new law, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals held that juveniles have the right to exercise their constitutional rights during transfer hearings such as the right to confront and cross-examine their accusers and to invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
After this case was sent back to the trial court, the state could not prove that the client had anything to do with the murder, and the charges were dismissed.
Federal Double Jeopardy Appellate Victory
United States v. McIntosh, 580 F.3d 1222 (11th Cir. 2009)
Defendant pled guilty to drug and firearm charges, but before sentencing the Government discovered the indictment alleged a wrong offense date, obtained a second indictment, and moved to dismiss the first indictment. The United States District Court granted that motion. Defendant's motion to dismiss the second indictment as barred by Double Jeopardy was denied. Defendant conditionally pled guilty and appealed.
On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a second conviction for the same offense violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. The judgment of conviction was vacated and the case was remanded with instructions to dismiss the second indictment.
Inmate Denied Medical Care, Had Seizure, Fell off Top Bunk and Died
Lancaster v. Monroe County, AL, 116 F.3d 1419 (11th Cir. 1997)
When a jail detainee died from complications from alcohol withdrawal due to the Sherriff and his jailers failing to obtain medical care for the detainee, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held the Sheriff and his jailers were not entitled to immunity.
Most people do not realize that whenever a civil rights lawsuit is filed, police officers are allowed to plead qualified immunity and often have the case dismissed at the trial court level after extensive litigation has occurred. If the case is not dismissed at the trial level, the police officers are then allowed to appeal where the appellate court can dismiss the case on immunity. Hence, it takes years for a civil rights case to ever make it to a jury, and most civil rights cases do not ever make it to a jury.
In the Lancaster case, after extensive litigation and less then one week before the trial date, the case was thrown out on qualified immunity grounds at the federal trial court level. I appealed and won this case. It settled thereafter.
State Double Jeopardy Victory on Appeal
Ex parte McCombs, 24 So.3d 1175 (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)
Defendant had been charged with murder. He was ACQUITTED of the murder charge when the jury returned a verdict on the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. The defendant was then granted a new trial based on ineffective assistance of his original trial counsel. The State sought to re-prosecute the defendant with the original murder charge but the appellate court held that any retrial on the original charge of murder violated Double Jeopardy.
HealthSouth Criminal Case
United States of America v. Rebecca Kay Morgan, et. al. (unpublished opinion from Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals – Case number 03-16408) (appellate victory on behalf of some of the HealthSouth defendants)
I (along with the substantial assistance of other firms) successfully played a key role in writing the appellate brief in opposition to the Government's arguments for jail time and restitution for five HealthSouth managers.
Jail Suicide and Denial Of Immunity
Hollingsworth v. Edgar, 2006 W.L. 2009104 (M.D.Ala.) (motion victory before federal trial court)
A jail detainee committed suicide by hanging himself. The United States District Court denied the jailers' motion to dismiss our civil rights lawsuit against the jailers for failing to take any precautions to prevent our client's suicide despite the fact that the jailers knew our client was suicidal. It settled thereafter.
Wrongful Death of Marlin Strange
Estate of Marlin Keith Strange v. IMH, Inc.
An illegal alien worked for IMH, Inc. and killed my client Marlin Strange at work. I filed a lawsuit against the company for negligently hiring an illegal alien and for negligently failing to prevent the illegal alien from killing my client. After extensive discovery, the case settled.
Wrongful Deaths of Jessie Johnson and John McGahagin
In two separate lawsuits, handicapped passengers were being transported in their wheelchairs. The defendant's employees failed to properly secure my clients, causing the wheelchairs to flip over and injure my clients. It is common for elderly individuals to die within six months to a year if they receive significant injuries. Unfortunately, both of my clients died from their injuries; the accidents did not cause my clients' deaths, but the accidents did contribute to my clients' deaths, so I filed wrongful death lawsuits. After extensive discovery, both cases settled.
Ex parte Sanders, 612 So.2d 1199 (Ala. 1993) (appellate victory on behalf of all indigent defendants)
In this case, I submitted a "friend of the court" (amicus) brief concerning when a criminal defendant is deemed to be indigent in order to receive financial assistance from the State. The Alabama Supreme Court held that a defendant whose relatives or friends retain the services of counsel may still be considered indigent for purposes of receiving funds for expert witnesses, investigative services, or other legal needs when those funds are necessary to the defense because the assets of friends and relatives, not legally responsible for the defendant, are not considered assets for determining whether the defendant is indigent.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Law
- Civil Litigation
- 90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Alabama
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Alabama
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
- J.D. - 1990
- Stetson University
- B.A. - 1986
- Honors: ATLA Trial College (American Trial Lawyers Association)
- Quick v. State, 825 So.2d 246 (Ala.Crim.App 2001)
- Sphere Drake Ins. P.L.C. v. Shoney's Inc., 923 F.Supp. 1481 (M.D.Ala. 1996)
- O.M. v. State, 595 So.2d 514 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991)
- United States v. McIntosh, 580 F.3d 1222 (11th Cir. 2009)
- Lancaster v. Monroe County, AL, 116 F.3d 1419 (11th Cir. 1997)
- Ex parte McCombs, 24 So.3d 1175 (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)
- United States of America v. Rebecca Kay Morgan, et. al., Case number 03-16408 (Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Hollingsworth v. Edgar, 2006 W.L. 2009104 (M.D.Ala. 2006)
- Estate of Marlin Keith Strange v. IMH, Inc.
- Ex parte Sanders, 612 So.2d 1199 (Ala. 1993)
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Alabama State Bar
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
- Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACDLA)
- Birmingham Bar Association
- Alpha Tau Omega