Sunday, June 15, 2014
Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers and good morning to all:
Roderick and Malisha are opposed to issuing jury instructions to juries.
Roderick said the following in a comment:
The fact that [Zimmerman’s] verdict was obviously racist has the Florida legal system (such that it is) scrambling by trying to legalize warning shots (Marissa Alexander) and Trevor Dooley has been allowed to appeal his conviction.
One of the big things that I got from [Zimmerman’s] trial is that there should not be jury instructions.
Judges shouldn’t have the power to tailor the laws to the case. The juries should only get the pertinent law and they should decide which parts of the law apply to each case.
When Judge Nelson refused to include the ‘initial aggressor’ clause in the jury instructions she basically signed [Zimmerman’s] get out of jail free card.
You know, I had not thought of that, that giving jury instructions to a jury is a form of prejudice, a way to disable the jury. The judge makes the rulings all through the trial based on what the jury may or may not hear. Then, you are absolutely right, there should be no need for jury instructions period. The law should be printed up and taken into the jury room. When the jury asks a question, it should start, “This refers to section __ on page __” and if they want an explanation they get it.
THey should get, along with their explanation, copies of the last three decisions that were made in the legal database on that question of LAW. They are the deciders of fact.
The initial aggressor language was crucial and this judge was committing a crime by omitting it.
Think: A guy goes into Walmart with a gun and waves it around screaing “get out get out the revolution is starting.”
A person with a ccw who has his loaded gun on him is nearby and pulls his gun and advances on the man. Why? He was not in fear of immediate death or bodily harm: the man neither saw him nor aimed at him; the screaming man was screaming to LEAVE, which was safe. The man who pulled a gun and advanced on the “revolutionary shopper” would be guilty of terroristic threatening, at least, if “initial aggressor” is not factored into this scene, the shooter himself would have been innocent of any harm to come to the armed shopper, if he had lived long enough to go to trial.
When you change “white armed neighborhood twat” and “black kid in hoodie” to “white revolutionary” and “Walmart shopper” you get two completely different pictures, don’t you?
I respectfully disagree.
Jury instructions are not the problem. They are the solution, provided the correct instructions are given.
The practice of law has become so specialized that general practitioners have become a dying breed who should limit their practice to the simplest tasks and refer the rest of their clients to specialists or associate specialists to assist them with the case.
This is especially true in the practice of criminal law, which has been subdivided into two broad categories, which are state and federal courts. Each of those are subdivided into criminal traffic offenses, juveniles, mental health commitments, misdemeanors, felonies, death penalty cases, sentencings and mitigation, appeals, post-conviction petitions and prisoner’s remedies.
Laws are complicated and even skilled lawyers encounter difficulty navigating their way through thickets of cross-referenced statutes and definitions of words and phrases that are used in those statutes. The intent of the legislature is occasionally difficult to discern because the statutes are poorly written. Practitioners also must review appellate and supreme court decisions interpreting the meaning of relevant statutes and constitutional provisions to update their knowledge.
To assist lawyers, judges and jurors to understand and correctly apply relevant laws, the supreme courts created committees of judges, practitioners and law professors to develop a comprehensive set of jury instructions for all criminal trials, including recommendations of which instructions should be given in particular cases.
For example, we know that an initial aggressor cannot claim self-defense because a person cannot create a necessity to use force in self-defense. This principle has been part of the law of self-defense extending back to the common law in England, which is the source of most of our criminal laws and practice.
The initial aggressor instruction should be given in a self-defense case whenever there is any evidence that the defendant was the original aggressor. Under existing Florida law, including a Florida Supreme Court case from the early 1950s, Judge Nelson should have given the initial aggressor instruction that prohibits a defendant from using force to defend himself against the victim of his initial attack unless the victim’s use of force in self-defense was excessive. In other words, a victim of a slap is limited to using reasonably necessary force to defend himself. If he reacts with deadly force, which would be excessive and unlawful, the initial aggressor can use deadly force to defend himself, provided that it was reasonably necessary for him to do so to prevent imminent death or grievous bodily harm.
Therefore, the problem with the instructions in the Zimmerman case was the court’s failure to properly instruct the jury.
That problem was compounded by the failure of the jury to follow the instructions that were given to, in essence, base their verdict on the evidence and not their racially prejudiced opinions against Trayvon Martin.
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