Michael Dunn to be sentenced today

October 17, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Good morning again:

Michael Dunn will be sentenced today at 10:30 am EDT.

You can watch the livestream and comment below.

Dunn’s lawyer has filed a motion for a new trial, which is standard operating procedure and should not be a matter to lose sleep over. The arguments are that he should get a new trial because:

1. The retrial should have been moved to another county;

2. The medical examiner should not have been permitted to testify about the trajectory of the shot that killed Jordan Davis; and

3. The juror should not have been dismissed for misconduct during the trial.

I cannot comment on the jury selection issue because it was not televised or livestreamed.

The argument that the medical examiner should not have been permitted to testify is ridiculous because no one is better qualified than a pathologist medical examiner to testify about the trajectory of a bullet through the body and the defense ‘expert,’ Michael Knox is a hack.

The juror was properly dismissed for making inappropriate statements about Angela Corey.

I believe Judge Healey will deny the motion.

Dunn’s lawyer can raise these issues on appeal.


Jury selection will be the most important part of the Michael Dunn retrial

September 16, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good afternoon:

Jury selection will be the most important part of the Michael Dunn retrial, which is scheduled to start next Monday. To have any chance to convict Michael Dunn of murdering Jordan Davis, the prosecution must screen for, identify and exclude any prospective juror who believes that it’s reasonable to assume that:

(1) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who likes to listen to loud rap music is an angry thug;

(2) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who lips off at an adult white male who orders him to turn down the volume is an angry thug;

(3) a black 16 to 21-year-old male who cranks up the volume after being ordered to turn it down is an angry thug;

(4) it’s reasonable for an adult white male to assume that an angry black thug who confronts him is armed and intends to kill or seriously hurt him; and

(5) it’s reasonably necessary for an adult white male to use deadly force in self-defense to prevent an angry black thug from killing or seriously injuring him.

The best way to determine if any prospective jurors hold these views is to ask them a series of hypothetical questions to discover if they fear black 16 to 21-year-old males.

For example, if you were walking down a sidewalk by yourself and saw a black 16 to 21-year-old male walking toward you, would you,

(a) continue walking toward him and ignore him;

(b) continue walking toward him and greet him;

(c) cross the street and walk down the other side; or

(d) turn around and walk the other way?

The use of hypothetical questions is the best way to uncover racial prejudice.

Can you think of any other hypothetical questions that you might ask during voir dire?

Finally, if you were a prosecutor, would you rather try this case to a judge according to the procedure followed in South Africa?

Would your answer change, if you were defense counsel?

The most important disputed questions of fact in the case are whether Jordan Davis was armed or had something that looked like a weapon in his hands, and if he was attempting to get out of the back seat of the SUV when Dunn squeezed off multiple shots at him.

FYI: Judge Healey denied a defense motion for a change of venue, preferring to take a wait-and-see approach to see if the extensive publicity about the shooting and the first trial has made it impossible to seat a twelve-person jury that can fairly and impartially decide the case (i.e., jurors have already formed an opinion about what the outcome should be). Once chosen, the jury will be sequestered.

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Judge Healey denies Michael Dunn’s motion for change of venue

September 11, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2013

Good afternoon:

Judge Healey denied Michael Dunn’s motion for a change of venue this morning saying he wants to start jury selection as scheduled on September 22nd and see how it goes.

He will grant the motion if they can’t select a fair and impartial jury. If that happens, he probably will bus in jurors from a nearby county and restart jury selection.

Needless to say, judges prefer having the jurors travel to the courthouse compared to the courthouse traveling to the jurors.

He granted the defense motion to prohibit the prosecution and witnesses from referring to Jordan Davis as the “victim,” but he denied the defense motion to prohibit the prosecution from introducing photos of Dunn’s writings on the wall of his cell.

This latter ruling is an important win for the prosecution because Dunn’s writings show he is a racist.

The denial of the motion for a change of venue as premature has become a standard response and reflects a wait-and-see approach that most judges favor.

The ruling that prohibits referring to Jordan Davis as the “victim” is a legally sound decision because the word implies that his death was unjustified thereby eroding the presumption that Dunn is innocent in that the killing was a justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense.

This problem can be cured by referring to him as the “deceased,” eliminating this issue as a potential basis for a successful appeal, if Dunn were convicted. This is why the judge’s decision is a smart strategic ruling.


Michael Dunn trial date continued

April 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good afternoon:

News4Jax is reporting that Michael Dunn’s trial date has been continued at the request of his public defender, Waffa Hanania. The court will set a new trial date at a hearing on June 9th.

Ms. Hanania has to watch the trial and review thousands of pages of police reports, forensic reports, autopsy reports, witness statements to police, witness depositions, trial transcripts, and defense investigation reports to review before she can realistically determine what else she must do to prepare for trial and how long it will take her to do it. In addition, she has other cases to handle and some of them will have scheduled trial dates.

I think Judge Healey will set a new trial date in the late fall or early next year. There is no reason to hurry because Dunn isn’t going anywhere. He will remain in the county jail until his case is resolved.

The judge has already ruled that the sentencing for the three attempted murder convictions will have to wait until the murder charge is resolved.

Whether he is found guilty or not guilty, a sentencing will follow, probably about 30 days after verdict.

If the new jury cannot agree on a verdict and a mistrial is declared, Angela Corey will have to again decide whether to retry him.

There is no limit to the number of times she can retry him on the murder charge, if each jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. The Double Jeopardy Clause does not prevent a retrial because no verdict has been reached.

I doubt she will try the case a third time, if the second jury hangs.

As I’ve said many times beginning with the Zimmerman case, jury selection is the most important part of these ridiculous white-man-shoots-unarmed-black-kid self-defense trial.

If Corey and her team do not weed out the racists, they ain’t going to win.

They also need to take another run at persuading Judge Healey to allow them to introduce Dunn’s racist letters, phone calls, and graffiti on his cell wall to show why he he shot at the kids. Authentication of the graffiti might pose a problem, but it should not be difficult to find someone to identify it as his.

I believe the evidence is admissible to prove motive under Rule 404(b). Motive is relevant and admissible because he is charged with premeditated murder and he claims self-defense. Indeed, his state of mind is the primary issue in the case.

And, if he dares to open the door again by placing his character in issue, Corey better be prepared to back the garbage truck up to the courthouse door and dump all of the stinky stuff the former neighbor knows about him on the courtroom floor.

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Fred


Jury’s failure to reject Dunn’s self-defense claim produces absurd result

February 17, 2014


Democracy Now report about the verdict and Amy Goodman’s interview of Michael Skolnik

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good morning:

The jury’s failure to reject Michael Dunn’s self-defense claim produced an absurd result.

It convicted him of shooting at and missing three black teenagers but did not convict him of any crime for killing Jordan Davis.

That result, though presumably not intended to punish Dunn for failing to kill the three black teenagers, nevertheless looks bad.

With the exception of Dunn’s self-serving testimony, there was no evidence of self-defense.

Therefore, the viability of his claim of self-defense depended entirely on his credibility.

He lied when he testified under oath that he contacted law enforcement officials after the shooting before they contacted him.

He told the jury that, while driving home to his residence in Brevard County the morning after the shooting, he called his neighbor, a federal agent employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and told him that he wanted to discuss an urgent personal matter with him upon arrival.

The prosecution produced his cellular telephone bill that established that the phone call was initiated by the neighbor.

Rhonda Rourer, his fiancee who accompanied him on the drive, testified that he placed the call from the neighbor on speakerphone. The neighbor invited the two of them over to his place for a social event. Dunn declined claiming Rourer was not feeling well enough to attend. Dunn did not mention getting together later or at any other time to discuss an urgent personal matter.

Dunn’s false statement to the jury while under oath was important because, despite claiming that he fired into a vehicle occupied by black gangsters and thugs after being threatened with death, he never called 911 to request assistance or to report what happened. Instead, he drove out of the parking lot past a parked police vehicle on the other side of the street with its emergency lights on and drove to his hotel where he walked his dog and ordered a pizza.

The police would not have been able to identify Dunn as the shooter, but for the actions of a homeless young man living out of his car, who was in the right place at the right time, memorized Dunn’s license plate number and gave it to the store manager who called it into 911.

He did not call police that night and he did not call them next day.

Can anyone of sound mind seriously believe that his actions are consistent with a claim of self-defense in a case in which Jordan Davis and his three friends were unarmed and no weapon of any kind was in their vehicle?

Why wasn’t it obvious to every member of that jury and every person who followed this trial that Michael Dunn lied because he was hoping the police would not be able to identify him as the shooter.

Why wasn’t it obvious to every member of that jury and every person who followed this trial that Michael Dunn lied under oath to the jury hoping they would believe he initiated contact with the police?

Why wasn’t it obvious to every member of that jury and every person who followed this trial that Michael Dunn did not shoot Jordan Davis in self-defense?

Especially since Dunn never once told Rhonda Rourer that he saw a shotgun or the barrel of a shotgun or any other weapon before he fired 10 bullets into the red Durango.

The prosecution lost this case in jury selection.

I have repeatedly stressed the importance of jury selection to my clients and colleagues while practicing law, to my law-school students in trial advocacy, and to my readers on this blog.

To prepare for jury selection in the next trial, prosecutors must identify the jurors who believed Michael Dunn fired in self-defense. They must review the jury selection process to determine what they did wrong or failed to do that resulted in those jurors being seated on the jury.

They will lose again, if they fail to do that and justice again will be denied to Jordan Davis and his family.

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Fred


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