Appellate court reverses trial judge in Jordan Davis case

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Good afternoon:

I have an important development to report in the Michael Dunn case. As most of you know, he is charged with shooting Jordan Davis, 17, to death in the parking lot outside a convenience store in Jacksonville following an argument over loud music.

Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee reversed Judge Russell Healey’s order that prohibited the release of evidence to the public for a period of 30 days after the prosecution discloses it to the defense. The Court held that Judge Healey’s order violated Florida’s Sunshine Law that requires the prosecution to immediately release the evidence to the public after it releases it to the defense.

Judge Healey issued the order after he experienced a Yikes! moment while watching a local television news report about racist letters that Dunn had written in jail.

I wrote about the letters on October 27th in Let’s play the who-said-this game.

Judge Healey was concerned about the possible impact the letters might have on jury selection and Dunn’s right to a fair and impartial jury. He decided to impose the 30-day delay to give him an opportunity to preview the discovery and decide whether to release it.

Here’s a sample of what he was concerned about.

Sample 1:

The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.

Sample 2:

I’m really not prejudiced against race, but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster-rap, ghetto talking thug ‘culture’ that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable. They espouse violence and disrespect towards women. The black community here in [deleted] is in an uproar against me — the three other thugs that were in the car are telling stories to cover up their true ‘colors.’

Sample 3:

I am amazed at what is going on with the way the media has been covering this case. Their have been several other shootings here in [deleted], yet they are all either black-on-black or black-on-white, and none of them have garnered any attention from the media. I guess it’s news when someone dares to not to be a victim, but they are twisting it around sand saying I was the ‘bad guy.’

Y’all get the idea.

Judge Healey’s dilemma was how can we seat a fair and impartial jury now that everyone knows that Michael Dunn, a middle aged white guy, is an unrepentant racist who dares “to not be a victim” of four unarmed black teenagers sitting in a parked SUV with the music turned up. That he’s predisposed to “kill these (expletive) idiots” would appear to lessen the prosecution’s burden to prove premeditation to convict Dunn of murder one or to prove Dunn acted with a depraved mind indifferent to human life to convict him of murder two.

Hence, the Yikes moment.

The problem is the jury will get to see them since the letters are relevant and admissible pursuant to Evidence Rule 404(b) to prove Dunn’s intent when he pulled the trigger and that he did not shoot due to a mistake he made about the situation or accidentally shoot at the teenagers. The letters also are admissible under Evidence Rule 801(d)(2) as admissions by a party opponent.

Also, recall that prosecution and defense agreed to withhold certain evidence from the public, such as witness names and phone logs subject to an earlier order entered by Judge Lester, pursuant to exceptions in the Sunshine Law.

The Florida Times Union at Jacksonville.com reported:

But the decision drew objections from The Florida Times-Union, First Coast News and WJXT TV-4, who appealed Healey’s ruling after the judge refused to rescind it.

The prosecution and defense will still have the right to ask Healey to issue a protective order that would keep specific discovery from the public. If that happens, an evidentiary hearing must be held to determine if the information should be protected, the appeals court said.

Attorney George Gabel, who represents the Times-Union and First Coast News, said that’s the way it should be.

“It’s a procedure that’s fair to the defendant and is also fair to the public,” he said.

The irony is that the letters may actually have the reverse effect because many white people in Florida, who fiercely deny they are racist, agree with everything Dunn said. They say blacks are the real racists because they have the temerity to complain about being ordered to sit in the back of the bus. They believe that any black male teenager ipso facto is a thug who should be killed to prevent him from becoming an even worse thug.

Oh, and that God-awful rap music. Lordie! Hide the women and the children.

Like the Zimmerman trial that resulted in an unjust acquittal, excluding people from the jury who share Dunn’s loud and proud racist beliefs is key to getting a fair and impartial trial and a just result.

The four teenage boys were unarmed and minding their own business listening to amped-up music when Dunn pulled in and parked next to them on the passenger side of the SUV. When Davis disobeyed Dunn’s order to turn it down, Dunn pulled out his pistola and started shooting and continued shooting as the driver backed out in a panic and sped away. He even got out of his car and fired at the back end of the fleeing vehicle.

Two of the bullets struck and killed Davis, who was sitting in the back seat on the passenger side just a few feet away from Dunn. Fortunately, no one else was injured.

Dunn claims he saw a gun and fired in self-defense.

The driver stopped the SUV a short distance away from the convenience store in a nearby parking lot to check on Davis, who was already unconscious.

The police arrived within minutes. The three teenagers denied having a weapon. Police searched them, the vehicle and the area but did not find a weapon.

Jury selection is scheduled to start February 3rd.

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This is our 809th post in a little over two years. If everyone who has not contributed a donation, were to donate $5, we could end this fund drive today.

Fred

50 Responses to Appellate court reverses trial judge in Jordan Davis case

  1. kllypyn says:

    He got out of his car aimed a gun at a car full of unarmed kids shot at them 8 or 9 times killing one,and he has the nerve the audacity the unmitigated gall to call them thugs.Give me a break.

  2. fauxmccoy says:

    as i was reading, a comment was forming in my head, until i reached the following section

    “many white people in Florida, who fiercely deny they are racist, agree with everything Dunn said. They say blacks are the real racists because they have the temerity to complain about being ordered to sit in the back of the bus. They believe that any black male teenager ipso facto is a thug who should be killed to prevent him from becoming an even worse thug.”

    yes. this!

    • roderick2012 says:

      faux, this attitude that most white Floridians have is why I don’t believe that Corey can obtain a conviction on 1st degree murder charges since there will be twelve jurors.

      Since the death penalty wasn’t requested I wonder why Dunn wasn’t indicted on 2nd degree murder charges and three counts of attempted 2nd degree murder charges so that the jury would only be six (or can the defendant choose the size of his jury) because I believe that Corey should be able to seat at least three minority jurors and they would have stuck together and not have been bullied into an acquittal and maybe won over the other jurors by maintaining an alliance.

  3. towerflower says:

    I really think that the State of Florida needs to revamp their Sunshine Law. IMO, it should be up to the judge if any evidence gets released prior to the trial to help avoid the media circuses that happen with a high profile case. I wonder how the trial with Z would have gone if there was no evidence releases and gag orders all around.

    • Ain’t likely to happen because gag orders violate the First Amendment, unless the circumstances are severe. I believe O’Mara’s weekly press conferences to misrepresent and spin the evidence crossed the line. I would have granted the prosecution’s request for a gag order. Probably not the first request, but definitely the second request.

      • roderick2012 says:

        What difference would it have made because someone in FL law enforcement was leaking details about what was on Trayvon’s cell phone which the State never asked to be sealed as they did with Piglet’s cell phone records and other items.

  4. aussie says:

    Why would these letters be admissible? and as evidence of what?

    • Intent and absence of mistake or accident under Rule 404(b) and admission by a party opponent under Rule 801(d)(2).

      • racerrodig says:

        Not to mention he basically has put up a neon sign that says…

        I’m not a racist BUT …

        “….but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster-rap, ghetto talking thug ‘culture’ that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable. .

        Who “flocks to..” ?? Oh, I’m sorry…..that’s called “intolerance” which he has spilled into “racist”

        And this gem….

        “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you,…….”

        Hold the phucking phone as my dad used to say. Nobody threatened Dunn that night and I doubt on any night……sounds like the FogenPhoole / Moron O’ Mara handbook to me

        “……eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

        It is obvious to the most casual observer the one who needs to change is Dunn. Besides a murder, he left the scene…..a felony on it’s own as I recall. He fired from the confines of a motor vehicle…..certainly he was not in any danger…….other than peeing his pants…….being drunk and all.

        But this is an all time show stopper….

        “I guess it’s news when someone dares to not to be a victim,”

        Geeeeeee maybe it’s Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin who didn’t want to be the victim……But they didn’t really have any say in the matter now…….did they??

        • Malisha says:

          OMG Dunn is such trash.

          “If more people like me would kill more people who are not liked by people like me, there would be fewer of the people who are not liked by people like me around.”

          How many I.Q. points does it take to draw that conclusion? Three, three and a half? He’s a low-class stupid self-promoting racist murderer. If more people killed people like Dunn, there’s be fewer people like Dunn around.

  5. racerrodig says:

    “There is zero chance they would want him.”

    Some time ago I saw a link with the worlds view of Fogen. It may have been posted by Colin. Every single word about him, and some were by TV newscasters / talk show hosts was basically “Thank God those Americans have him…..please don’t let him vacation here”

    None of it was pretty…..

  6. crazy1946 says:

    Dunn has several problems, he initiated the confrontation, he fired his gun (probably while intoxicated) at a fleeing vehicle, and he left the scene of the incident. He, after finding out that he had murdered a child, fled the area and returned to his home. I think he will be convicted of 2nd degree murder (at the least), but he is actually guilty (IMO) of 1st degree murder… I don’t think with the public disclosure of the racist letters he wrote while in jail, that the racial issue can fail to be brought up in the trial. If this trial ends in a not guilty finding, then I suggest we simply cut Florida loose from the USA and give it to Cuba… or if that fails, just send the racist groups and their Afro-Peruvian hero to Peru…. No that won’t work, it would violate the United Nations agreements on toxic weapons… you can’t get more toxic than the Zimmer and his supporters…

    • before we cut Florida off from the rest of the mainland, please somebody send me a raft so I can make it back to land.

        • crazy1946 says:

          Professor, Only a fool would bet money on any trial that takes place in the banana republic of Florida… Then again because I still have about $12.00 left to spend for food between now and Jan. 8, perhaps I should bet, we could call it a forced diet, right?

          • William Walton says:

            Crazy1946. spend the money on food as it will get you to another day to keep up the discussion. Just a thought. Much of what is going on is irrelevent to the real situation. We must come to the realization that we are all human beings (black, white, green, yellow, or blue) and must coexist together. The negative diaglogue does not belong in any discussion.

          • crazy1946 says:

            William Walton, If one is creative it does not cost much to eat for a month, perhaps not a well as some desire, but adequate….
            Granted much of what is posted on the average blog is not on topic, nor is much of it in good taste, however when a person does not allow their imagination to at least peek thru on occasion, they eventually grow weary of dealing with the problems at hand… humor that does not single out people in harmful ways, be it physical or mental generally is harmless, yet as you say is irrelevant to the real situation at hand. Negative dialogue which harms or demeans others is seldom (if ever) productive.. Have a wonderful evening..

    • I look forward to the normalization or relations with Cuba. I used to live there when I was a kid and loved it.

      I hope to return and maybe even spend the rest of my days there.

      There is zero chance they would want him.

    • racerrodig says:

      Remember Dunn claimed they pointed a gun at him….a shotgun as I recall………..but then he said it could have been a stick and actually asked the detective if they looked for that……I kid you not.

      So he has “The Always Lethal Imaginary Stick” defense going for him.

      None of the kids in the car even got out…..Dunn did, but that was strictly to have an unimpeded view when he fired off the last half dozen or so rounds at unarmed kids.

      What a guy………what a guy.

      • crazy1946 says:

        racerrodig, Oh yes, the old I thought I saw a gun defense. Quite honestly, I don’t believe one word of that, he was simply drunk from all the alcohol he sucked in at the wedding. I don’t think that excuse was thought up until the next day when he sobered up…

        • racerrodig says:

          Yeeeeeep…..did you guys find that loaded stick…..I swear….they had a loaded stick. I don’t know what caliber…but I know they had one of hell…….I’d never have fired at them.

          Did you check in the woods over there ??? That’s where it must b e. So, my lawyer will base my defense on poor police work. Just like my hero Fogen…..IT”S NOT MY FAULT !!!!

      • Malisha says:

        You know any four young Black kids who point sticks at drunk-ass middle-aged wedding-attired white rednecks in front of convenience stores? I don’t!

    • towerflower says:

      We all aren’t bad here in Florida 😦
      This has been my home, my entire life. Sure we have had some high profile screwed up cases but we aren’t the only state.

      • crazy1946 says:

        towerflower, I suppose my poor sense of humor strikes again! I realize that the vast majority of people in the state are good and the racists are but a small minority… Could we just carve Seminole County out and ship it some where? Ok, that won’t work either… Ok, I guess we will just have to keep it like it is, because we need good people like you working for change… Have a good evening…

      • towerflower says:

        Crazy, I understand you weren’t serious. I live in one of the coastal counties close to Seminole, that’s why I hear so much about those cases.

    • Cuba? Child killers in Cuba are executed ASAP ,Not Appeals!
      Peruvians applied vigilante justice to child killers,the only place
      where that “marrano” is safe it’s in Sanford,he need to rethinkkk
      going to Texas,he insulted Mexicans..

  7. William Walton says:

    It is incomprehensible that someone would shoot and kill a teenage person for playing loud music. I was getting gas one day and some black teenagers were also getting gas. They had the music cranked up and it was very loud. Walked over and asked the driver to turn it down and he said NO! Told him I have a son about your age and he does the same thing with the music. I went on to tell this young man as I had told my son that by the time he was twenty he would be wearing hearing aids. He thought for a minute and got out of the car, hugged me, and exclaimed “Hey, You Are Cool Old Man.” At that time I was realy not that old but I think I made an impression on that young black kid. And really, that is all that matters.

    • bettykath says:

      Young and old are all relative. Nowadays, just about everyone is young. Used to be they were mostly old.

      • William Walton says:

        I think the interesting thing was that I was polite and able as a white person (makes no differece since I am a person) to talk to a young black kid and get the response I did. It would have been a different situation if GZ did the same to TM as I did to this young black youth. Don’t you think?

        • MDH says:

          It worked for my father and I, when we lived in Detroit.

          From what I see of Dunne and Zimmerman, they have the manners and social skills of a pig.

          In my experience, Black Americans are very respectful and respond well to those who treat them with dignity.

          Look at the conversation that went down between GZ and TM.

          TM: Why are you following me?

          My comment: That is a perfectly understandable thing for a person who is being followed by another who has not identified themselves but has been following in a car and on foot. The polite response would be to identify one’s self and state why they are following. A disrespectful ass, on the other hand would say…

          GZ: Why are you here?

          My comment: It is rude and, out of line to ask another person why they are in any place unless the person first identifies the reason that they feel they can ask such a question.

          I have come to the conclusion that the right wing is rife with racist dick heads who are angry that the USA, at least in some parts, no longer allows them to openly treat black people like shit.

          Gee, why was that ever a good thing?

    • Eric says:

      Why would loud music at a place where you spend comparably very little time bother you? You should have nothing. Just get your gas and go.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        @eric — and if you were one who loud music of specific genres apparently drives you up a wall, why park directly adjacent to a vehicle doing just that? there were several other, unoccupied parking spaces. dunn strikes me as someone looking for trouble.

  8. Brandy says:

    I just left a post on other thread about the paps following Georgie around like he is a celebrity. If you want to see video, you can find it a TMZ. It appears they were at the courthouse to retrieve their guns. Only in America do they follow a murderer of a child and give him the attention he so loves! I am so DISGUSTED!

  9. acemayo says:

    By reading his letters if Micheal Dunn shot an indian he will say
    THE ONLY GOOD INDIAN IS A DEAD INDIAN

  10. riisey007 says:

    It all smells like another George Zimmerman trial to me. Here he is saying that he was in jeapardy, it seems he is laying the platform. I bet Conservative nuthouse and Fox news lovers are already gearing up to defend him. He wants the attention, he knows what he is doing why else would he take to his pen and paper? No matter how this child died he will be thought of as a thug just like poor Trayvon. Is Omara wanting this case too?

    • Cory Strolla represents Dunn.

      Since O’Mara got stuck paying the $30,000 bill to the security company, I doubt he wants another Zimmerman case.

      Strolla isn’t working for free, however. He was retained, evidently by family money.

      Strolla asked the court to find Dunn indigent so that the court would pay for the costs (not Strolla’s fee), but the court denied the motion.

  11. If I were representing Dunn and I knew these letters were going to be admitted into evidence, I would want to voir dire prospective jurors about them, evaluate their responses and exercise my cause and peremptory challenges in a manner that helps my defense.

  12. racerrodig says:

    “I can’t wait for Mr. Dunn to get thrown in general population with all the blacks he’s terrified of.”

    Yep…same here…..he’s going to find out just how polite they can be. He’ll know just how he stands if his room mate has one of his letters pasted to the cell wall…….just as a reminder.

  13. I’m ready for this trial to get started. I can’t wait for Mr. Dunn to get thrown in general population with all the blacks he’s terrified of.

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