Jury selection critically important in Dunn case

February 1, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Good afternoon:

The Michael Dunn trial starts Monday with jury selection, which will probably play the most significant role in determining the outcome of the trial.

In order to convict Dunn, the prosecution must avoid making the mistakes that it made during jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial.

That means stop preaching to the prospective jurors. Question them instead. Ask “Why?”

Let them talk and reveal themselves.

Be on the lookout for stealth jurors. Right-wing-gun-nut racists who believe that people like Dunn and Zimmerman are great American heroes who should be rewarded for killing black teenagers.

Most prosecutors are lousy at jury selection. Bernie de la Rionda conducted a clinic on how not to do it. Angela Corey should watch a recording of what he did. His failure to ask B-37 why she used the word “riots” to describe peaceful demonstrations and his failure to challenge her for cause or to use a peremptory challenge to get rid of her may have had more to do with the outcome of the trial than anything else.

She must avoid making his mistakes.

Unless, of course, she really wants to lose the case.

Angela Corey failed to disclose evidence in Michael Dunn case

January 31, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Good morning:

I have disappointing news to pass along from Angela Corey’s office.

The audio recordings of Michael Dunn’s jailhouse phone calls will not be available for 9 to 10 weeks. Since the trial is likely to end before then, I do not believe we will have an opportunity to listen to them.

According to the terms of the order issued two weeks ago today by the 1st District Court of Appeal, the prosecution was required to release the audio recordings to the media no later than one week ago today.

Corey claims that she has a legitimate excuse for the delay.

I disagree.

She says her office has 170 hours of recorded calls that cannot be released to the public in their present condition because the names and addresses of the participants and various other people mentioned in the calls have not been redacted.

True, but that task should have been accomplished months ago.


Because anything Dunn said during the calls about the shooting will be admissible in the prosecution’s case-in-chief pursuant to the admission-by-a-party-opponent rule. If Dunn testifies and his testimony differs from what he said during those calls, the prosecution can impeach his testimony with his prior inconsistent statement.

The prosecution acquired this evidence approximately one year ago and I cannot think of any reason that would justify its failure to review the calls months ago. I do not believe that any reasonably competent prosecutor would have failed to review that evidence months ago and for that reason I do not accept Corey’s excuse.

If I were Judge Healey, I would find Corey in contempt and order her to pay $500 per day until she produces the records.

Given the inadequate performance of her team of prosecutors in the George Zimmerman trial, I was expecting her to avoid bonehead screw-ups like this.

Her failure to do so raises new questions about her commitment to this case.

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,


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.


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.


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


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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