Cassandra Gorton

Cassandra Gorton

Sarasota, Florida
Licensed in Florida and South Carolina

My dedication to criminal defense began in law school, during an internship in the death penalty clinic. In addition to assisting with the research and drafting of federal habeas briefs, I was often sent to meet with those we represented. These were people in the last stages of appeal, facing imminent execution. They were supposed to be the worst that humanity had to offer, but I had the opportunity to get to know them and appreciate them for the sons, fathers, brothers and husbands that they were. I realized then that defending a person's rights in criminal matters included their right to be treated with dignity and respect.

After serving as an assistant public defender in rural Missouri, I moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1994 and spent five more years in the public defenders's office. With a workload that averaged over 100 felony cases per attorney, I learned a lot about legal triage and gained an impressive amount of trial experience, but I craved the opportunity to dig into a case, to dissect the legal issues, file supportive pleadings, and in short, leave no stone unturned.

In 1999, I left the public defender's office to begin a unique private practice called "Legal Ease", wherein fellow criminal defense attorneys could hire me by the hour to do just that. While I was working with those attorneys committed to excellence, the courts began to appoint me to represent individuals in ineffective assistance of counsel claims, and my appellate practice grew.

I met Brett McIntosh in those early years of Legal Ease. We were both active members and officers in the local chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (FACDL), an organization formed to protect the rights of individuals. There was a juvenile case where two witnesses for the defense were accused of lying and summarily thrown in jail. Brett and I agreed to represent the jailed witnesses. This was a time intensive matter, requiring quick but thorough action. But what impressed me most was the way Brett addressed the human element, the way he spoke to those kids. There was an incredible time pressure for us to get the necessary paperwork filed, but these kids were absolutely terrified, and Brett took the time address this, calmly explaining the process, answering their questions, and soothing their fears. And he did so without sacrificing the case. In a matter of hours, we had prevailed.

Brett and I continued to work together after that, on charges ranging from DUI to homicide, simple possession to federal trafficking. We've handled complex racketeering matters and white collar crime, and we genuinely enjoy what we do. We've been doing this for years, but refuse to allow it to become "routine". In each case, we apply our experience but look for new challenges and unexplored argument. We never forget that outcome of your case will change the course of your life.

Although I now live in South Carolina, I welcomed the opportunity to remain a part of the McIntosh Law team as an "of Counsel" attorney. McIntosh Law is dedicated to personalized, superior and results oriented representation. In the appellate division, we extend this commitment to criminal appeals and 3.850 matters, including ineffective assistance of counsel claims. At McIntosh Law, we are pleased to offer hope to those who have been wrongfully convicted.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law