Jury instructions are necessary

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers and good morning to all:

Roderick and Malisha are opposed to issuing jury instructions to juries.

Roderick said the following in a comment:

The fact that [Zimmerman’s] verdict was obviously racist has the Florida legal system (such that it is) scrambling by trying to legalize warning shots (Marissa Alexander) and Trevor Dooley has been allowed to appeal his conviction.

One of the big things that I got from [Zimmerman’s] trial is that there should not be jury instructions.

Judges shouldn’t have the power to tailor the laws to the case. The juries should only get the pertinent law and they should decide which parts of the law apply to each case.

When Judge Nelson refused to include the ‘initial aggressor’ clause in the jury instructions she basically signed [Zimmerman’s] get out of jail free card.

Malisha responded:

You know, I had not thought of that, that giving jury instructions to a jury is a form of prejudice, a way to disable the jury. The judge makes the rulings all through the trial based on what the jury may or may not hear. Then, you are absolutely right, there should be no need for jury instructions period. The law should be printed up and taken into the jury room. When the jury asks a question, it should start, “This refers to section __ on page __” and if they want an explanation they get it.

PERIOD.

THey should get, along with their explanation, copies of the last three decisions that were made in the legal database on that question of LAW. They are the deciders of fact.

The initial aggressor language was crucial and this judge was committing a crime by omitting it.

Think: A guy goes into Walmart with a gun and waves it around screaing “get out get out the revolution is starting.”

A person with a ccw who has his loaded gun on him is nearby and pulls his gun and advances on the man. Why? He was not in fear of immediate death or bodily harm: the man neither saw him nor aimed at him; the screaming man was screaming to LEAVE, which was safe. The man who pulled a gun and advanced on the “revolutionary shopper” would be guilty of terroristic threatening, at least, if “initial aggressor” is not factored into this scene, the shooter himself would have been innocent of any harm to come to the armed shopper, if he had lived long enough to go to trial.

When you change “white armed neighborhood twat” and “black kid in hoodie” to “white revolutionary” and “Walmart shopper” you get two completely different pictures, don’t you?

I respectfully disagree.

Jury instructions are not the problem. They are the solution, provided the correct instructions are given.

The practice of law has become so specialized that general practitioners have become a dying breed who should limit their practice to the simplest tasks and refer the rest of their clients to specialists or associate specialists to assist them with the case.

This is especially true in the practice of criminal law, which has been subdivided into two broad categories, which are state and federal courts. Each of those are subdivided into criminal traffic offenses, juveniles, mental health commitments, misdemeanors, felonies, death penalty cases, sentencings and mitigation, appeals, post-conviction petitions and prisoner’s remedies.

Laws are complicated and even skilled lawyers encounter difficulty navigating their way through thickets of cross-referenced statutes and definitions of words and phrases that are used in those statutes. The intent of the legislature is occasionally difficult to discern because the statutes are poorly written. Practitioners also must review appellate and supreme court decisions interpreting the meaning of relevant statutes and constitutional provisions to update their knowledge.

To assist lawyers, judges and jurors to understand and correctly apply relevant laws, the supreme courts created committees of judges, practitioners and law professors to develop a comprehensive set of jury instructions for all criminal trials, including recommendations of which instructions should be given in particular cases.

For example, we know that an initial aggressor cannot claim self-defense because a person cannot create a necessity to use force in self-defense. This principle has been part of the law of self-defense extending back to the common law in England, which is the source of most of our criminal laws and practice.

The initial aggressor instruction should be given in a self-defense case whenever there is any evidence that the defendant was the original aggressor. Under existing Florida law, including a Florida Supreme Court case from the early 1950s, Judge Nelson should have given the initial aggressor instruction that prohibits a defendant from using force to defend himself against the victim of his initial attack unless the victim’s use of force in self-defense was excessive. In other words, a victim of a slap is limited to using reasonably necessary force to defend himself. If he reacts with deadly force, which would be excessive and unlawful, the initial aggressor can use deadly force to defend himself, provided that it was reasonably necessary for him to do so to prevent imminent death or grievous bodily harm.

Therefore, the problem with the instructions in the Zimmerman case was the court’s failure to properly instruct the jury.

That problem was compounded by the failure of the jury to follow the instructions that were given to, in essence, base their verdict on the evidence and not their racially prejudiced opinions against Trayvon Martin.

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19 Responses to Jury instructions are necessary

  1. Malisha says:

    Professor, I’m convinced.

    But the fact that the prosecutor cannot appeal if there is an acquittal makes it obvious that a judge can totally throw a trial by giving a faulty jury instruction. Perhaps a remedy would be if that happened a prosecutor could, or complaining witnesses could, initiate some kind of appellate proceeding to actually FAULT the judge for biased jury instructions. Maybe a “three strikes you’re out” rule would be good so a judge ended up off the bench if she used her own prejudice to guide how she guided the jury.

    • The Double Jeopardy Clause prevents what you are suggesting.

      • Malisha says:

        NOT an appeal of the acquittal and retrial of the defendant — a new appellate procedure against the JUDGE. If a judge is found three times to have given jury instructions that were grossly out of line with the accepted Constitutional standard, AND there was evidence that it was not “harmless error,” then the JUDGE is off the Bench. Like a suspension of a Bar License. She can get back on the Bench after passing certain courses and doing certain things to sharpen up her game. Hell I don’t even CARE about the defendants; let them meet justice as they will. I care about these judges who have completely gone out of control and have ruined us three ways over.

    • bettykath says:

      In fogen’s case, do you really believe there was anyone who would have objected? This case was one where the judge, the attorneys for both sides and the jury were hell bent on affirming white privilege, Matty and one prosecutor excepted.

      • crazy1946 says:

        bettykath, I have said for a long time, actually even before the trial started that someone in a high place did not want fogen convicted, probably due to some power that his father possessed. Perhaps at some time in the future we will know who and why, but until then we are stuck with the knowledge that a murderer walks free in Florida… and until he self destructs there will be no justice for Trayvon,

        • bettykath says:

          I agree.

        • roderick2012 says:

          crazy: bettykath, I have said for a long time, actually even before the trial started that someone in a high place did not want fogen convicted, probably due to some power that his father possessed.

          True. Remember during one of Piglet’s early jailhouse conversations with Shellie he told her he wasn’t worried about the murder charges?

          That sent chills up my spine and gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

          Piglet knew he had friends in high places or at least his father does.

      • Malisha says:

        But Matty and the one prosecutor did not jump into the action with the medical examiner to expose the cover-up. Did they?

        • I just checked on the progress of Dr. Bao’s $100 M lawsuit against the State of Florida for wrongful termination.

          Still pending.

        • bettykath says:

          Lack of power or the perception of lack of power can be determinative.

          • Malisha says:

            Power concedes nothing.
            All power wants is more power.
            All it DOES it collect more power and exploit everyone else.

          • bettykath says:

            Absolutely. It takes a lot to object to power that’s used inappropriately. Matty was bullied. And it’s hard to fight the good fight if you’re arguing in a second language. She’s been so busy just trying to survive so hasn’t had the resources to argue effectively. The lawyer tried to argue at the time but he was alone. Maybe he will be of some help in the lawsuit of the ME. Let’s hope he’s found a new job before he’s totally disillusioned.

  2. J4TMinATL says:

    Happy Father’s Day!

    Wanted to share this article. A police officer and father of seven killed in parking lot of Waffle House while working off duty detail.

    Shooter had permit.
    Officer’s brother had permit from Illinois (GA does not have reciprocity with IL ).

    No other facts available. Opinions, questions, or thoughts on the incident? Since we have been discussing guns, I thought I’d share this.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2645003/Police-officer-43-father-SEVEN-shot-death-brawl-three-suspects-waffle-ho.html

    • bettykath says:

      Guns and alcohol are a bad combination.

      I didn’t know security guards were allowed to arrest, in this case, for disorderly conduct.

      • He was an off-duty cop and they have arrest powers even when they are off-duty.

        • J4TMinATL says:

          Yes and he was in his police uniform.

        • roderick2012 says:

          That may be true but I disagree that he should have had the power to arrest anyone while he was off-duty.

          He should have called the police if they had refused to leave.

          Obviously, his handcuffing the female patron escalated the situation and resulted in her friend shooting and killing the security guard.

          Just before this incident Georgia passed the ‘guns everywhere’ bill so this is likely a result of a return to the Wild Wild West.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        even non police, security guards are trained in arrest procedures and can do so, although it is the same as a “citizen’s arrest” and the guard takes on an enormous responsibility if such an arrest was unwarranted, for then, the guard has committed the crime of false imprisonment and other legal difficulties.

        my husband and brother both worked as security guards when they were discharged from the army (do not believe those recruitment ads which say you get training for ‘real life jobs’, that is horseshit). they put themselves through school on the GI bill and supplemented with guard work. as conscientious young men, they both took their training seriously, had cuffs on their utility belts and studied the california penal code extensively. not all security guards do, of course, and neither of them ever made an arrest.

    • crazy1946 says:

      J4TMinATL: See this is proof that the NRA is right, a licensed concealed carry permit holder, killed a black thug attacking his friend… Whoops, how can this be, the actual thugs were white and used that legally carried weapon to murder a police officer in cold blood by shooting him in the back… But remember the NRA is always right, we need more guns to protect us from the black thugs, repeat again, we need more guns to protect us from the black thugs, repeat this as often as necessary until you totally accept that it is true, then run as fast as you can to the nearest gun shop and buy a gun or three. Never forget, we can never have too many guns, and with out all those guns we will be less safe, that is unless you are black, poor, or disliked by someone who has a gun that is bigger than yours. Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people that they want to kill…

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