Crane and I have taken a few days off to take care of other business, We are doing well and in good health.
The next court hearing is October 19th before Judge Debra Nelson. She scheduled the hearing to consider the State’s motion to quash the defense subpoenas for Trayvon’s school records. The State contends that O’Mara issued and served the subpoenas in violation of Florida’s criminal rules that require court approval before they can be served.
O’Mara issued the subpoenas pursuant to the civil rules that do not require approval. That was a rookie mistake since Zimmerman’s case is a criminal case.
Since O’Mara handles a mix of civil and criminal cases, he should be familiar with both sets of rules and the judicial-approval requirement for subpoenas in criminal cases.
I lack sufficient information to decide whether he was aware of the requirement and failed to adequately inform and supervise the person in his office who prepared the subpoenas or whether he deliberately bypassed the judge hoping the schools would turn over the records without objection.
The State also contends that the school records are personal and protected from disclosure due to privacy concerns. The State also argues that the information he seeks is irrelevant and inadmissible.
I discussed this issue in a previous article and concluded that the records, whether good or bad, are not admissible. There are two possible exceptions.
If the records contain information that Trayvon was known to be an aggressive bully, the defense should be permitted to inform the jury about that character trait as it is probative and relevant to the issue of who was the aggressor. Note that evidence of the specific bad acts upon which that character trait is based would not be admissible.
If the records contain information that Trayvon was known to be a person with a non-aggressive and peaceful disposition, the prosecution should be permitted to inform the jury about that character trait as it also is probative and relevant to the issue of who was the aggressor. Evidence of specific acts of good conduct would not be admissible.
I have never been a fan of character evidence because it does not mean anything without specific acts of conduct to support it. Even if specific acts of conduct were admitted, that would not necessarily mean that the person acted in a manner consistent with that character trait at the time of the incident.
I believe that evidence of what Trayvon and Zimmerman actually did has significantly more probative value than evidence of their respective personality traits.
I do not know whether Judge Nelson will announce her decision on the 19th. I believe she will listen to the arguments of counsel that day and issue a written decision a few days later.
All of you have been working very hard on mastering the evidence in this case by organizing it according to its relevance or probative value in proving or disproving the elements of second degree murder and self-defense.
This is what we teach law students to do and I compliment all of you on your efforts and progress.
In my next two articles I will discuss the societal purpose and development of a system of laws to promote that purpose using Ancient Egypt as an example.