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.

If you appreciate what we do and have not already made a donation, please do so today.

Fred


What’s next for Michael Dunn

February 18, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good morning:

Crane and I thank everyone who has responded to our financial plight with a donation. Some of you have made multiple donations and we are very grateful.

Because it takes several days for Paypal to transfer money into our bank account, we are expecting to be without electricity for several days, possibly starting later today. Fortunately, the weather is warming up into the high 50s today and for the rest of this week, so we are not in any danger of freezing.

We will not have internet access when the power is shut off, but we can motor to the nearest McDonald’s and use their WiFi connection to periodically post and comment. We should be able to get through this without too much interruption or inconvenience.

Now to today’s post.

Angela Corey has to decide whether she is going to retry Michael Dunn for killing Jordan Davis. She said she would, but prosecutors almost always say they will do that, only to later change their minds and attempt to resolve the charge by entering into a plea agreement with the defendant in exchange for reducing the charge. If she decides to go this route and Dunn refuses to plead guilty to anything, which is what I expect he will do since he is already looking at a minimum 60-year sentence on the three attempted second degree murder charges, she will have to either retry him on the murder charge or dismiss it and proceed to sentencing.

I believe it’s pretty clear that the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the murder charge because one or more jurors concluded that Dunn shot Jordan Davis in self-defense. I doubt a majority of the jury believed that, but this is Florida, the Gunshine State, where many white people apparently believe all black male teenagers are thugs armed to the teeth and looking for an excuse to kill white males and steal their wives or girlfriends.

Some of the jurors who wanted to convict Dunn probably have contacted Corey and informed her regarding how many jurors bought the self-defense argument and their reasons for doing so.

Corey is more likely to retry the murder charge, if the vote were 11-1 or 10-2 to convict, as opposed to acquit. She may ultimately decide against retrying Dunn for the murder, if 4 or more jurors held out to acquit. After all, there is not much point in retrying Dunn, unless good reason exists to believe the retrial will end in a conviction.

The evidence against Dunn was overwhelming. However, she did not use Dunn’s overtly racist letters in which he said the world would be a better place if more white people shot and killed black thugs and gangsters like the boys in the red Durango.

Corey likely will have to use those letters, if she hopes to convict Dunn, and I am not at all certain that she is willing to do that. After all, she was elected State Attorney by pandering to white racist fear of black male teenagers by promising to aggressively prosecute and convict all the thugs and gangsters, which are the new words used to replace the N-word.

Her apparent lack of zeal to convict George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin does not inspire confidence that she is not racist. Frankly, I think she shares some of Dunn’s beliefs, so I would not be surprised if she ultimately dismisses the murder charge.

Dunn will not be sentenced until the murder charge is resolved, whether by trial, plea or dismissal. After it is resolved, the matter will proceed to sentencing where Dunn is looking at a sentence of at least 60 years.

Dunn has a constitutional right to appeal the case after the sentence is imposed and a final judgment is entered.

He also has a constitutional right to be represented by court-appointed counsel during that appeal at public expense, if he is indigent and unable to hire private counsel.

Incidentally, the same applies to a retrial of the murder charge. Look for Cory Strolla to move to withdraw, if Dunn is out of money.

The court would most likely appoint a public defender to represent Dunn, although courts sometimes appoint a private lawyer willing to work at the lower rates courts are willing to pay.

At this point, I do not believe Dunn has any meritorious issues to raise on appeal. Therefore, regardless of the outcome of a retrial of the murder charge, I believe he will spend the rest of his life in prison.


Racism is an insane delusion about people of color

February 16, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Good morning:

Although I am pleased with the three guilty verdicts of attempted second degree murder and the guilty verdict for shooting into a car that will keep Michael Dunn locked up for the rest of his life, I am disappointed with the jury’s failure to reach a verdict on count 1, which charged him with first degree murder for the death of Jordan Davis.

Ironically, without the presence of the three boys in the Durango and the guilty verdicts to diminish our disappointment, we would be in a much different emotional state today.

I support Angela Corey’s decision to retry him, but she is going to have to change her strategy to obtain a different result.

I am going to focus on Jordan Davis today, which is his birthday, and explain what she must do to obtain justice for Jordan.

The time has come to stop white-washing racially motivated crimes. By that, I mean ignoring the elephant in the living room, racism.

Although motive is not an element of most crimes and therefore irrelevant, it may be relevant (i.e., probative) to prove intent.

The importance of introducing evidence of racial motivation comes into sharp focus when the victim, like Jordan, was black unarmed, and the defendant, like Dunn, is white and claims he saw a weapon or a portion of a weapon and killed the victim in self-defense.

Such a killing would be justifiable homicide in self-defense, if the defendant reasonably believed himself to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

As our United States Supreme Court has often said, reasonableness depends on the “totality of the circumstances.”

We know from Dunn’s letters that he regarded the four boys as dangerous thugs and gangsters listening to “thug” music.

That is a racist assumption unsupported by any evidence.

Sometimes people see what they expect to see or want to see and that certainly applies to racists who are substantially more likely to assume that an unarmed black male teenager is an armed thug than an unprejudiced person.

Like it or not, that mindset is part of the totality of the circumstances that a jury should have a right to consider in deciding whether a defendant like Dunn gave a truthful account of his actions and acted reasonably.

Our legal system needs to acknowledge the existence of racism and call it what it is, an insane delusion.

A claim of self-defense must be evaluated according to whether a reasonable person in the same situation as the defendant would have believed himself to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury such that the use of deadly force in self-defense was reasonably necessary.

There is no such thing as a reasonable insane delusion and we do justice to no one by excusing a violent act committed by a person pursuant to an insane delusion and ignoring the consequences of that act.

I do not mean to suggest or imply that Dunn actually saw a weapon or believed that he did. I believe he lied about that to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Evidence of a racial motivation to kill makes comprehensible the otherwise incomprehensible crime.

For example, let’s assume that a defendant in a murder case, who shot and killed an unarmed teenage girl whom he did not know, testifies and says,

“Why would I have killed her unless I believed she had a gun and was going to rob and kill me?”

A racist is more likely to believe that she had a gun or lie about it than a person who is not racist.

White washing racist defendants by concealing or withholding evidence of their racial motivation from a jury will produce injustice, not justice.

It is not a coincidence that my hypothetical resembles the Renisha McBride case in Detroit, which is coming up for trial in June.

I do not know if Theodore Wafer is a racist, but I certainly would be looking for such evidence with the intent of introducing it at trial, if I were the prosecutor.

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This is our 901st post and we passed 2 million all-time views for the blog last night, despite being in existence only a little over two years.

We are still in desperate financial straits with bills for basic living expenses and medical bills we cannot pay for this month. We need help. Please donate today, if you haven’t already.

Fred


Discovery dump today in Michael Dunn case

January 24, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Good evening:

We have a discovery dump (156 pages) to review in the Michael Dunn case. Among the contents are some letters he wrote that you may find interesting to read.

(H/T to Lynn for providing the link)

Happy trails,

Fred


Florida Court of Appeal again orders trial judge to release evidence to public in Michael Dunn case

January 18, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Good morning:

Storm clouds brewing in the Michael Dunn case.

Yesterday, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Florida ordered Judge Russell Healey to comply with its earlier order to release discovery to the public and to hold a hearing no later than Wednesday of next week to do it.

On December 19th, I wrote about the earlier order.

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.

/snip/

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.

However, as I also mentioned,

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.

Therefore, there was no good reason for Judge Healey to have created an exception to the Sunshine Law, which requires the simultaneous release of the discovery to the public when it is released to the defense. Expressed another way, the proper publication of the letters pursuant to the law could not serve as a justification to create a new 30-day-review rule.

The news media appealed Judge Healey’s order creating the new exception to the law and the appellate court said, Nyet! Thou shalt follow the law.

Nothing happened, however, so the news media returned to the appellate court and asked it to spank the naughty judge, which it did.

The Florida attorney general’s office, which represents Angela Corey’s office on appeals, has asked to continue the hearing to Friday.

Meanwhile, Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, wants a continuance. He claims he needs more time to get ready for trial. Angela Corey objects to the continuance.

I doubt Judge Healey will grant the continuance because the defense has had more than one year to get ready and it has waited too long to ask for more time. The trial, which is scheduled to start two weeks from Monday, will be a big event. The Florida Times-Union @ Jacksonville.com explains:

The delays mean further burdens on others awaiting some resolution.

Lucia McBath, who lives near Atlanta and is the mother of Jordan Davis, has rented a house in Jacksonville for all of February in anticipation of the trial. Attorney John Phillips, who represents McBath and Jordan’s father, Ron Davis, said they would have no comment on Friday’s events.

Police and media also are well into preparations for a trial that is expected to attract nationwide attention. An area near the courthouse will be set up as a media city, and police will be issuing daily credentials to attend. Courthouse personnel have said they will restrict where the media can conduct interviews.

Dunn will be the first high-profile trial at the new Duval County Courthouse. Unless plea deals are made, he will quickly be followed by Marissa Alexander and Donald James Smith, both also expected to generate national attention.

We certainly will be paying attention.

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This is our 857th post in 26 months. We had 422 visitors yesterday and zero donations.

Fred


Appellate court reverses trial judge in Jordan Davis case

December 19, 2013

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


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