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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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.


Father remembers Jordan Davis

August 14, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Good morning to all of our friends.

On September 23rd, a little more than a month from now, Michael Dunn is scheduled to go to trial for the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn is charged with first degree murder.

From the Grio, here is Jordan Davis’s father remembering his son.

” He always wanted to be taller than me,” he laughs. “He was short by two inches. And he always wanted to make sure I knew that he could dance better than me. He loved music, he listened to a lot of different music, you know, he had to listen to R&B because I’m a Motown child. I grew up with Motown, so he listened to all of it. He knew the songs, from ‘My Girl’ on up. And then, I would have to listen to some of his music.”

Davis’ voice breaks a little. “He always liked to jump in the car no matter where I was going,” He says. “If he saw me getting ready to leave he’d say, ‘hold up dad’ and he would jump in the car he always just wanted to ride with me, anywhere, doesn’t matter. And that’s what I miss, you know? I miss that so much right now because sometimes I get in the car and emotionally I wait for him to jump in. And I know he’s not jumping in, but emotionally I sit there. I don’t get in the car and just pull off. I kind of get in the car and I wait a little bit. And I remember those times.”

If you have not read the discovery, you can read it here (144 page pdf document).

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Introducing Judge Russell L. Healey

July 31, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good afternoon to all of our friends:

Duvall County Judge Russell L. Healey is the third judge to handle the Michael Dunn case.

Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union has the story:

A second judge has removed herself from the high-profile Jacksonville murder trial of Michael David Dunn, charged with killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a dispute over loud music.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper had been appointed in May following the defense team’s request for Judge Suzanne Bass to step down due to concerns for a fair trial.

Bass denied him bail, refused a motion to have the state declare him indigent and pushed to have the trial in September even though his attorneys said it was unrealistic. Defense attorney Cory Strolla also said Bass failed to control her courtroom, including warning the victim’s father about his outburst, the Times-Union previously reported.
Cooper was replaced by Circuit Judge Russell Healey, court records show.

I previously wrote about the first and only hearing so far before Judge Healey. He denied Dunn’s motions seeking reconsideration of Judge Bass’s denial of bail, denial of indigency status, and denial of a motion to continue the trial date.

DISCLOSURE: Although Judge Healey and I were members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers when I was a member of the Board of Directors, I do not recall his name. It is possible that I may have met him during our midwinter meeting in Jacksonville in the late 90s, or at one or more of our other meetings, but I do not recall doing so. Therefore, I have no opinion about him.

The odd thing about Judge Healey’s appointment is that he is not a Circuit Court Judge. He is a Duvall County judge and I do not believe county judges can preside over felony trials without some sort of special appointment and or the consent of both parties to the case.

There does not appear to be a shortage of judges serving on the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which has 29 judges, with 9 assigned to handle criminal cases full time.

Could the Dunn case be the case that no circuit court judge wants to handle because of its high profile and possible voter backlash from the verdict?

Why Judge Healey?

Does not appear that he has any experience presiding over any felony trial, let alone a high profile felony trial.

Did he volunteer for this duty?

Who in their right mind would volunteer for a baptism by fire?

This oddity does not inspire confidence that the outcome of this trial will not be rigged.

Zoom has the skinny on Judge Healey.

Russell L. Healey was a law partner for 14 years in Mahon, Mahon & Healey, P.A. where he practiced criminal law specializing in marital and family law.

He was a board certified Marital and Family Law attorney and a former member of the Jacksonville Planning Commission.

Before joining Mahon & Mahon, he worked in private practice with Tassone and Healey after serving as an assistant state attorney and state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida in Jacksonville.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of South Florida, a JD degree from the University of Florida and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981.

Before becoming a Duvall County judge in 2002, he was a member of the American Bar and Florida Bar Associations, the National and Florida Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Association of Trial Lawyers.

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Bullet trajectories and self-defense in the Michael Dunn case

July 28, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Good morning my friends:

An interesting issue occurred to me while I was reading through the discovery in the Dunn case. Which of the bullets struck Jordan Davis?

Crime scene investigators used wooden dowels as probes to line up the trajectories of the multiple shots into the Dodge Durango.

Medical examiners use metal rods to do the same thing with bullet wounds.

The use of wooden dowels or metal rods can provide useful information that assists in solving crimes as well as confirm or contradict a witness’s or a suspect’s description of a shooting.

According to the discovery in the Dunn case, he fired four shots into the Durango while seated in the driver’s seat of his vehicle and four more shots into the back end after the driver backed out and sped away.

Jordan Davis was seated in the back seat of the Durango on the passenger side, which was open. His position in the vehicle would have been next to the driver’s side of Dunn’s vehicle and a little behind Dunn. He was shot multiple times.

Questions:

1. Did the bullets that struck him pass through the vehicle?

2. If so, did the shots come from the side or from behind?

3. What were the angles?

4. From what direction and what angle was the fatal shot(s) fired.

I do not believe Dunn has a viable claim of self-defense, but this is crazy racist Florida and, therefore, it is impossible to predict what a jury might conclude.

Nevertheless, Dunn’s claim of self-defense would be weaker, if he fired the fatal shot(s) at a fleeing vehicle.

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Breaking down the Michael Dunn indictment

July 25, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Good afternoon my friends:

A grand jury returned a five-count indictment last December against Michael Dunn for shooting into a red Dodge Durango killing Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old male. Dunn is a 46-year-old white male.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of a gas station and convenience store in Jacksonville, FL on November 23, 2012. Four black male teenagers were sitting in the Durango listening to music when Dunn drove up and parked next to them on the passenger side. Jordan Davis was sitting in the back seat of the Durango on the passenger side with his window down.

After Dunn’s girlfriend entered the store to purchase wine and potato chips, Dunn complained about the volume of the music and told the teenagers to turn it down. After someone in the front seat turned it down, Jordan Davis objected and the person turned up the volume back up.

Dunn and Davis started arguing. After stating, “you’re not going to talk to me like that,” Dunn pulled out a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun and started squeezing off shots into the Durango, hitting Davis multiple times, killing him.

Dunn got out of his car and kept firing as the driver of the Durango backed out of the parking place and sped away.

Dunn fired 8 shots. Fortunately, no one else was injured.

After hearing the shots, Dunn’s girlfriend rushed back to the vehicle and got in leaving the bottle of wine, potato chips, and the money to pay for them on the counter.

A few minutes later, after Dunn peeled out of the parking lot, the teenagers in the red Dodge Durango, who had stopped in a nearby parking lot to check on Jordan and assess the damage to the vehicle, called 911 and returned to the scene to wait for the police and the ambulance to arrive.

The teenagers were unarmed and the police did not find any weapons in their vehicle. Police also searched the route they had taken and the area where they briefly stopped. They did not find any weapons.

The indictment alleges in Count 1 that Michael Dunn committed first degree premeditated murder when he shot and killed Jordan Davis. Dunn has admitted the shooting but claims that he acted in self-defense.

Here is the Florida Supreme Court jury instruction for first degree premeditated murder:

To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. (Victim) is dead.

2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).

3. There was a premeditated killing of (victim).

Definitions.
An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

“Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.

The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing.

(Transferred intent. Give if applicable.)

If a person has a premeditated design to kill one person and in attempting to kill that person actually kills another person, the killing is premeditated.

Counts 2-4 each allege that Michael Dunn, while acting with premeditated intent to kill each of the other three teenagers, attempted to kill them by shooting into the vehicle.

The Florida Supreme Court jury instruction for attempted first degree premeditated murder provides:

To prove the crime of Attempted First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. (Defendant) did some act intended to cause the death of (victim) that went beyond just thinking or talking about it.

2. (Defendant) acted with a premeditated design to kill (victim).

3. The act would have resulted in the death of (victim) except that someone prevented (defendant) from killing (victim) or [he] [she] failed to do so.

Definition
A premeditated design to kill means that there was a conscious decision to kill. The decision must be present in the mind at the time the act was committed. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the act. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the act was committed.

The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the attempted killing and the conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the attempted killing.

It is not an attempt to commit first degree premeditated murder if the defendant abandoned the attempt to commit the offense or otherwise prevented its commission under circumstances indicating a complete and voluntary renunciation of [his] [her] criminal purpose.

Count 5 of the indictment charges Michael Dunn with “wantonly or maliciously” shooting a firearm at, within or into a vehicle, which was being used or occupied by any person. Count 5 is a felony.

Since Count 5 is a felony, Michael Dunn could also be convicted of first degree murder in Count 1, pursuant to the felony murder rule, if the jury convicts Dunn on Count 5 (a felony) that results in the unlawful death of Jordan Davis.

Notice that the felony murder rule is an alternative method of proving first degree murder that does not require proof of premeditation. Instead, it requires proof of a predicate felony, such as Count 5, that unlawfully causes the death of another person.

Dunn’s defense is self-defense and like Zimmerman, he has a credibility problem. He initially said that he fired in self-defense because he feared the boys were going to rush him. Subsequently, he said he thought he saw a shotgun.

The jury will have to decide if he believed he was in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm and if so, whether his belief was reasonable.

If you have not already done so, go to the following link to review the discovery (H/T to fauxmccoy for providing the link):

http://www.news4jax.com/blob/view/-/19561384/data/3/-/mlr4iiz/-/Michael-Dunn-discovery-materials.pdf

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