skip to main content

Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.

Paul, Weiss Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Challenging Wrongful Conviction That Could Have Chilling Effect on Voting

Paul, Weiss, in coordination with the Brennan Center for Justice, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) in Hart v. State, concerning the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions. This is the second amicus brief we have filed for FRRC, each aiming to overturn criminal convictions that otherwise might have a chilling effect on eligible voters’ exercise of their voting rights.

FRRC is a grassroots organization of returning citizens—people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences—seeking to end the disenfranchisement of and discrimination against people with convictions.

In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment restoring the right to vote to returning citizens. However, the amendment did not restore the rights of individuals who had been convicted of murder or offenses involving sexual abuse.

Under Florida law, a person is guilty of a felony if they willfully make a false affirmation in connection with voting or an election, or if they willfully vote when they know they are ineligible. Nathan Shirl Hart was convicted of making a false affirmation after he submitted a registration despite having previously been convicted of an offense involving sexual abuse. He was convicted of making a false affirmation despite uncontroverted evidence that an individual he met outside of the DMV told him that he could submit an application, which the state would either grant or deny, and failed to mention that individuals convicted of sex offenses had not had their rights restored.

Our amicus brief reinforces Mr. Hart’s argument that there was insufficient evidence for a rational juror to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hart knew he was ineligible when he submitted his registration document. Our brief additionally informs the court of the numerous ways that the state has not satisfied its legal obligations to verify voter eligibility and help voters determine if they are eligible to vote, and highlights the prejudice inherent in presenting a jury with evidence that a defendant has previously been convicted of a felony as a predicate for an election fraud charge.

The Paul, Weiss team was led by litigation partner Tee St. Matthew-Daniel and counsel Jonathan Hurwitz, and included associates Michael Dauber and Jane Yang, and law clerk Nicholas Roney.

© 2024 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Privacy Policy