Michelle Yard, Esq.
Research & Writing Specialist
Michelle Yard is an attorney in the Appellate Division and serves as the Intern Program Director for the Federal Defender's Office, MDFL. She has completed federal trials and is board-certified by the Florida Bar as a criminal trial attorney. Ms. Yard has appeared before the Eleventh Circuit for oral arguments and obtained reversals. In 2016, the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (CFACDL) selected her 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."
Before joining the Federal Defender's Office in 2015, she worked as a State Assistant Public Defender for Orange County for ten years. Ms. Yard successfully tried cases from DUI to sexual battery to homicide. She 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, and seeking post-conviction relief under Graham and Miller for juveniles sentenced to life without parole; of which she secured some of the lowest resentences in the country. She has presented at local, statewide, and national conferences on sentencing issues and reform. Ms. Yard serves as President-Elect of CFACDL, served as a Subject Matter Expert for the Florida Board of Bar Examiners 2020-21 Legal Practice Analysis Panel, and served on the board of the ACLU of Central Florida. Her law school highlights include representing children as a Certified Legal Intern with the Gator Team Child Civil Law Clinic and receiving a Pro Bono Award from the Levin College of Law in recognition of her years of volunteer service in dependency cases as a certified Guardian ad Litem for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. She received her B.A. with honors and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Florida.