Why the Jordan Davis murder was not a death-penalty case and update on Jodi Arias

October 2, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good morning:

Several readers have asked why the prosecution did not seek the death penalty in the Michael Dunn case.

It is not a death-penalty case.

The death penalty is reserved for the most egregious premeditated murders. In other words, it applies to premeditated murders with “aggravating circumstances” that are listed in the death-penalty statute.

For example, a premeditated intent to kill a witness to a crime you have committed in order to conceal the crime you have committed is an aggravating circumstance that qualifies for the death penalty. A rape murder qualifies where the purpose of the murder is to prevent the victim from reporting the rape and identifying the rapist.

Other examples are premeditated murders of certain people such as police officers, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and children under age 12.

Another example that might have applied to Dunn, if he had killed the other boys in the Dodge Durango, is multiple victims. This statutory aggravating factor also would apply to terrorist bombings, such as the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings.

The Jodi Arias case provides another example. She is charged with killing her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander, with premeditation and the aggravating factor alleged in the indictment is that she killed him in a “cruel, heinous, or depraved” manner. Wikipedia describes the killing:

The killing of Travis Alexander occurred on June 4, 2008. On June 9, 2008, Alexander’s body was discovered by his friends in a shower at his home in Mesa, Arizona. Alexander had been stabbed repeatedly, with a slit throat and a fatal gunshot wound to the head. There have been conflicting reports over the number of stab wounds; some reports state that Alexander had been stabbed 29 times, while others state 27 times. Medical examiner Kevin Horn testified that Alexander’s jugular vein, common carotid artery, and windpipe had been slashed. Alexander had defensive wounds on his hands. Horn further testified that Alexander “may have” been dead at the time the gunshot was inflicted, and that the back wounds were shallow. Alexander’s death was ruled a homicide. He was buried at the Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Arias was convicted of premeditated murder, but the jury was unable to unanimously agree that death was the appropriate penalty.

The parties are now attempting to select a new penalty-phase jury. ABC News is reporting that more than half of the 400 prospective jurors have been dismissed because they were too familiar with the case and could not fairly and impartially evaluate the evidence in deciding whether she should be sentenced to death or life without possibility of parole.

The effort to select a jury continues today.

Unfortunately, there is no television or live-stream coverage.

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Thank you.


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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Racists should be banned from jury service

June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Good afternoon:

Xena posted a comment to my post about Theodore Wafer advising that his hearing has been continued to next Friday, June 20th.

She also said,

Did you read the part where the defense wants to argue that Renisha mistook Wafer’s house for a drug dealer’s house? The defense’s argument is that someone who lived close to Renisha was arrested for marijuana after Renisha was killed.

This presents an interesting new wrinkle to putting a victim on trial for a homicide, so let’s break it down, take a look and estimate the probability that it will be successful.

Let’s begin by assuming for the sake of argument that,

(1) someone who lived near Wafer’s house sold marijuana,

(2) McBride had previously purchased marijuana from that person at that address, and

(3) she mistakenly believed she was knocking on that person’s front door when she knocked on Wafer’s front door.

I don’t believe that set of assumed facts, which Wafer did not know at the time of the shooting, helps his claim of self-defense because, regardless of her intent, he had to be in fear of suffering imminent death or grievous bodily harm and his belief had to be reasonable. That is, a reasonable person in the same situation also would have believed that he was in imminent danger of suffering death or grievous bodily injury.

The racist right wing hate machine skips over the word reasonable because its members devoutly believe that their opinions are reasonable.

They fail to understand that the word reasonable in a legal context means evidence-based, as opposed to opinion-based. Racial prejudice is by definition opinion-based, rather than evidence-based. Therefore, it is unreasonable and no verdict should ever be based on it.

Prospective jurors who are unaware of their racial prejudice, or who deny being prejudiced when they know damn well they are prejudiced, should never sit on a jury when a person of color is the defendant or a victim allegedly injured or killed by a white defendant.

Even if McBride had a gun and intended to kill Wafer, and there is no evidence that she did, nothing about the situation he was in would likely have caused a reasonable person to believe he was in imminent danger behind the two locked doors. Seems to me that opening the door demonstrates unequivocally that he did not fear death or grievous bodily injury.

That act is an evidence-based expression of his state of mind when he opened the door and it defeats his claim of self-defense.

The castle doctrine does not help Wafer because she did not attempt to break in or enter his house. She was unarmed and outside his house knocking on the door. He was inside his house in a safe location on the other side of two locked doors while armed with a loaded shotgun and he had a cell phone with which to call 911.

He cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by opening the door.

We might have a different situation if he were living next to a drug house with all sorts of people coming and going at all hours of the day and night occasionally mistaking his house for the drug house, but even then he would have to have an objectively reasonable basis to believe his life was in danger, as opposed to being pissed off that someone was knocking on his door disturbing his sleep in the middle of the night.

As a matter of law, therefore, I believe the answer is easy. The evidence that the defense seeks to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible.

Just as O’Mara and West did in the Zimmerman trial, the defense is attacking the victim’s character in an effort to say she deserved to die.

However, as much as right-wing racists want to believe that they have a right to kill any person who is young, black, drunk and/or stoned (e.g., George Zimmerman), especially if that person is listening to loud music and is disrespectful (e.g., Michael Dunn), the law recognizes no such right or privilege.

Finally, do not forget that Wafer did not initially claim self-defense. He told the police that his gun went off by accident.

Look for the defense to do everything it can to keep him off the stand at trial, so he does not have to explain to the jury which story was a lie and why he lied instead of telling the truth.

Trial lawyers love it when they get to ask, “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”

For all of these reasons, I believe the evidence the defense wants to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible. I also believe a jury will convict him of murder, provided the prosecution identifies and eliminates all potential stealth jurors who would willingly substitute their racially prejudiced opinions about black teenagers for actual evidence.

We have seen jurors do that in two Florida trials.

The question is whether the prosecution will permit that to happen in Detroit.

Wafer’s trial is scheduled to start in five weeks, probably not long after Judge Thokozile announces her decision in the Oscar Pistorius case.

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Thank you,

Fred


Court denies Dunn’s request to delay trial in Jordan Davis murder case

January 22, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good morning:

Judge Russell Healey yesterday denied the defense motion to continue the trial date in the Michael Dunn case. The trial will commence on Monday, February 3rd.

Judge Healey next considered the media’s motions to release discovery to the public. By media, I refer to The Florida Times-Union, First Coast News and WJXT TV-4 (AKA: the intervenors). They previously petitioned to intervene on behalf of the public seeking the release of discovery that Judge Healey improperly withheld in violation of the Sunshine Law. They obtained an order from the 1st District Court of Appeal last Friday directing Judge Healey to release the evidence no later than this Friday, unless he determines at an evidentiary hearing to be held held no later than today that some of the withheld discovery, such as names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses should be blacked out.

Judge Healey waded into those waters at yesterday’s hearing with both prosecution and defense lamenting the appellate court’s order. Their major complaint was that the release of the discovery this close to trial may prejudice the defense and make it impossible to select a fair and impartial jury.

Of course, if the discovery had been released to the public when it was released to the defense, as required by the Sunshine Law, the late-publication problem would have been avoided.

The primary concern of the prosecution and defense is Dunn’s 740 phone calls from the jail. The Florida Times-Union at Jacksonville.com has the story:

But Corey said the media would still have to pay for the staff time it would take to produce the phone calls. Lawyers for the State Attorney’s Office have said it would take 180 hours of staff time to review the phone calls before they could be released to the public, and the media would have to pay over $6,000 for the staff time it would take to do that.
George Gabel, an attorney representing the Times-Union and First Coast News, said the media shouldn’t have to pay for the calls because the State Attorney’s Office has already reviewed them.

Corey acknowledged that they’d been reviewed, but said her staff had been looking at using them during the criminal trial, and had not reviewed them for release to the public.

Assistant State Attorney Lisa DiFranza said the office would have to review the phone calls again to redact anything that could be seen as a confession on Dunn’s part, and would also have to take any social security numbers or bank numbers that might come up during those calls because public records law prohibit those things from being released to the public.
Prosecutors estimated there were about 740 phone calls made by Dunn since he was in prison. Corey said about 10 of those calls are being looked at by her office to use against Dunn during his criminal trial.

Corey did not volunteer what was said in those phone calls.

Judge Healey said he would issue an order later.

Given the appellate court’s order, I believe Judge Healey has no choice. He has to order the release of the recordings by Friday at the close of business, so Angela Corey better git ‘er done.

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to reading transcripts of those calls.


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


Jordan Davis’s parents settle lawsuit against Michael Dunn

January 4, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Good afternoon:

Jordan Davis’s parents have settled their wrongful death lawsuit against Michael Dunn.

First Coast News is reporting,

John Phillips, the Davis’s attorney, confirmed the case had been settled but declined to disclose any further details. Phillips did say his clients made a proposal to settle monetarily and that an agreement had been reached.

Court records reviewed by First Coast News showed the settlement was reached Dec. 30.

Another civil suit filed on behalf of the other teenagers with Davis that night has also been settled, said Phillips.

Michael Dunn’s trial is scheduled to start on February 3, 2014.


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


Michael Dunn’s trial for killing Jordan Davis begins with jury selection February 3rd

December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good afternoon:

We have important news out of Jacksonville. Judge Russell Healey has scheduled February 3, 2014 to begin selecting a jury in the Michael Dunn case.

Jordan Davis’s father will be permitted to sit in the courtroom during the trial, even though he is going to be a witness.

The Florida Times Union at Jacksonville.com explains,

Under what is called the “rule of sequestration” most people testifying in a criminal trial are not allowed to be in the courtroom except when they testify, and are prohibited from discussing their testimony with other witnesses in the case. This is primarily done to keep someone from watching another witnesses’ testimony and then changing their own story so it corresponds with what another witness says.

But Ron Davis was not at the scene of the crime, and State Attorney Angela Corey, who is personally prosecuting this case, argued that he should be allowed in the courtroom because his testimony would not be impacted by what other witnesses say.

The mother of one of the three teenagers who were in the vehicle with Jordan when Dunn shot him to death also will be permitted to sit in court and watch the proceedings even though she also has been subpoenaed.

The three teenagers will be excluded from the courtroom until excused from further testimony by the judge.

The defense objected to the parents being permitted to watch the proceedings, but the judge overruled the defense objection.

Dunn’s attorney Cory Strolla argued that Ron Davis and the mother of the other teenager should be barred from the courtroom because having them in court allows the duo to create an emotional bond with the jury.

The jury will be looking at the parents for two whole weeks during the trial, and will give added credibility to them when they testify, Strolla said.

But Healey dismissed that argument, saying that the jury wouldn’t even know who the parents are until they testify. Corey also told Healey she would not use the parents testimony to manipulate the jurors emotions.

The defense also requested that the jury be transported to the scene of the shooting for a jury view, but Judge Healey denied the motion because the conditions in effect at the time of the shooting could not be replicated and it would be difficult to conceal their identities.

Judge Healey also granted a defense motion to prohibit people from wearing any clothing or jewelry that expresses an opinion about the case.

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We depend on reader support and we desperately need your help now.

I hate to beg but have no choice. We cannot pay our rent and are on the verge of being homeless and losing this website.

This is our 793rd post in two years. Think about how much time and effort that involves.

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Fred


Let’s play the who-said-this game

October 27, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good morning:

Time to play the who-said-this game.

A game the whole family can play

Just read the quote and guess who said it.

First clue: The man is white and in jail.

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.

Second clue: The man denies being a racist.

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.’

Third clue: This man is really amazed and irked to discover that the media does not call him a hero.

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.’

Fourth clue: This man wants a change of venue because the media has not called him a hero.

You are correct, if you chose Michael Dunn. He is charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis to death in the parking lot of a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn emptied the clip of his 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun while squeezing off shots at point blank range into an SUV parked next to him because Jordan Davis disrespected his authority as an older white guy by refusing to turn down the music and calling him names. Davis and his three friends were unarmed.

Michael Dunn is stupid because he shot and killed a kid for playing loud music that he did not like and disobeying his order to turn it down. He is also stupid because he does not realize he is a racist and he mailed these statements from jail to relatives and friends not realizing that jailers read mail. Predictably, the statements were published. Now, he wants a change of venue to a place with like-minded people who will give him the keys to the city and throw him a ticker tape parade down main street instead of throwing him in jail.

Someplace like Sanford, Florida in Seminole County.

The best thing Dunn’s lawyer could do right now is to threaten to kill him with his bare hands if he doesn’t shut up.

Quotes obtained from Atlanta Black Star

This is our 735th post


We shall overcome

October 12, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Good evening:

Crane and I were gone most of the day. Since we returned, we have been reading and talking about the awakening and renewed commitment to seek justice inspired by the shocking injustice in Kendrick Johnson’s case that so many of you have so clearly expressed.

We feel the same way and we intend to use this blog to not only seek justice for Trayvon, but to seek it for Jordan Davis, Kendrick Johnson, their grieving families and everyone else who has been denied their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a just and color blind society. Justice for Trayvon is the name and symbol of our quest.

In a comment this afternoon, Mary Davis said,

I know what happened in Trayvon’s case knocked the sails out of us, but we can’t stop now.

She is right and her comment got me thinking.

This is my answer.

The result in Trayvon’s case disappointed me, but it did not knock the sails out of me.

I have learned how to be patient doing death penalty work. In the Darrold Stenson case, for example, where material exculpatory evidence was withheld by the prosecution from me (I was defense counsel) resulting in a guilty verdict and a death sentence, the Washington State Supreme Court finally agreed with our argument and reversed the conviction and death sentence in the spring of 2012. The sentence was imposed in 1994, so justice took 18 years.

I am convinced that something far bigger than ourselves is dictating the direction and pace of events. Racism, corruption and injustice are rampant. Innocent people are being murdered and the perpetrators are not being held accountable.

Necessary change must happen but it cannot happen all at once.

Justice for Trayvon must necessarily be sought outside the legal system because the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits a retrial and the prosecution is not going to appeal a case that it did not intend to win and cannot retry.

Justice for Trayvon will be found in the court of public opinion. I think this week’s episode of South Park capitalized on widespread interest in the case and the pervasive belief that George Zimmerman got away with murder. He did much to hang himself after the acquittal by swaggering around like the cowardly bully that he is. Result: he was portrayed as the government’s go-to weapon when it wants to silence a black troublemaker because he’s an expert at murdering black kids and getting away with it. However, he killed a white kid disguised in black face, so he was summarily executed in the electric chair.

Rather than offend our national sense of justice, which would have been the case if a majority of Americans believed he was a hero for defending himself against a crazed black thug who attempted to kill him, most people understood that the result of his trial would have been different if Trayvon were a white kid and they laughed at his execution on South Park.

I don’t believe anyone needed to have that explained to them.

I believe the only people who were offended by the show are the white right wing racists that make up the right wing hate machine.

I don’t know how the writers managed to pull that off in a nation of people shocked, dismayed, and still grieving about the injustice of the verdict, but they did.

And they mocked George Zimmerman and got us to laugh at him.

Nothing will bring back Trayvon Martin. I think a nation shocked by Trayvon’s death, the injustice of the verdict, and thoroughly disgusted with George Zimmerman is actually a better result than a conviction and life sentence.

George Zimmerman’s life will be a living hell, which is his just reward

Now we are witnessing a call for help to right a wrong in Valdosta, Georgia. Word is spreading like wildfire through the power of instant communication via the internet to reopen the investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s suspicious death. Experts in death investigation and forensics are stepping forward and speaking out. They are identifying the problems with the investigation and calling his death a homicide.

The cover-up is falling apart exposing yet another corrupt and incompetent local police department (the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the autopsy and reached the utterly ridiculous and indefensible conclusion that his death was accidental due to positional asphyxiation.

Unfortunately, during the long course of human history, most people have been far too willing to accept corruption and injustice as just the way it is, even when they, or someone they know, have been victimized. They felt too isolated and powerless to fight back. For example, more than 80 innocent defendants pled guilty to felonies they did not commit during the late 1990s and agreed to serve lengthy prison sentences without complaint. Every one of them was framed by corrupt members of the out-of-control Ramparts Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. At least one of them sustained multiple gunshot wounds for allegedly resisting arrest even though he submitted to arrest.

The horrible story unravelled when one of the rogue police officers was arrested for possessing cocaine in his locker. He snitched on his fellow officers in exchange for favorable treatment. Eventually the truth was revealed and all of the wrongful convictions were set aside.

Even though they were represented by counsel, not one of the more than 80 innocent defendants believed he had a realistic chance to be acquitted and not one of them was even willing to go to trial.

Tragically, corruption and injustice tend to thrive and be tolerated until some terrible tragedy occurs that so offends people that they finally say enough is enough.

George Zimmerman’s cold blooded execution of an innocent and unarmed Trayvon Martin screaming for help and his mother and begging for his life was such a tragedy. People all over the world were shocked and horrified. It brought us together here and it brought many others together at other sites. All of us watched the trial and we ultimately saw through the pretense of a serious prosecution. We have been changed forever by that experience.

Nine months after Zimmerman murdered Trayvon, we were horrified again when Michael Dunn murdered Jordan Davis at a gas station because Jordan refused to turn down the music he was listening to and did not show Dunn enough respect. Ironically, Dunn will be prosecuted by Angela Corey, the State Attorney who oversaw the failed prosecution of George Zimmerman and expressed satisfaction with the result.

We will be watching that trial and calling her out every time she fails to do something she should have done or does something she should not have done. I and others like me who are experienced trial lawyers will be watching every move she makes. She has a lot to prove and everything to lose. She will not get away with another lackluster effort to create the appearance of justice. We will call her out, if she allows another racist right wing nutcase like B-37 to get on the jury. We’ve seen the movie and we are familiar with the script. Never again.

And now we have Kendrick Johnson’s shocking case to grab our attention and galvanize us back into action.

Nothing will ever change unless we take action and make things change. Unfortunately, humans have to be shocked out of their generally passive and accepting everyday lives before they will come together, focus on solving a problem, and take action to git ‘r done. These three horrific cases are waking us up to what we must do to reclaim our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a just and color blind society. We cannot ignore these tragedies. We cannot shrug our shoulders and turn our backs on Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Kendrick Johnson and their grieving families because those three beautiful, young, and innocent children could just have easily been our children or even ourselves.

Justice for Trayvon is justice for everyone and we now have three crystal clear examples that racism is alive and well in this country and our criminal justice system is aiding and abetting it rather than producing just results.

I could no more ignore the message conveyed by these three tragedies than stop breathing.

By working together using the power of the internet to communicate, we can and we will make the mountains tremble.


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