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Next Florida self-defense trial: Loud music, teens in a car and a shooting

Next Florida self-defense trial: Loud music, teens in a car and a shooting

Plus more of the eccentric Florida legal process

Few among us will soon forget the “eccentric” jurisprudence demonstrated by Judge Debra Nelson during the George Zimmerman trial. I am pleased to discover that, to the good fortune of legal bloggers everywhere, Florida apparently has a surfeit of such judges.

You ask for a similarly “eccentric” Florida judge in another Florida self-defense case? I give you Judge Russell Healey in the upcoming Michael Dunn trial.

Interestingly, it seems the Sunshine took several swings at the ball before seating Judge Healey to try this case, a pattern also reminiscent of the multiple judges rotated through the early days of the Zimmerman trial.

The first judge assigned to the Dunn case, Judge Suzanne Bass, recused herself in May 2013 in response to a defense motion claiming several of her rulings against the defense revealed bias. You can view the defense motion for recusal by clicking here.

The second judge assigned, Judge Mallory Cooper, recused herself after only 5 weeks on the case, for reasons not made clear.

Judge Healey is thus the third judge—so far—to preside over the Dunn trial.

Judge Russell Healey, overseeing trial of Michael Dunn

Judge Russell Healey, overseeing trial of Michael Dunn

Before we get into some of Judge Healey’s more interesting jurisprudence, it may be useful to quickly summarize the case. Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old high school student.

The facts appear to be as follows:  On Friday, November 23, 2012, Davis was in a car with friends, parked at a gas station, and playing loud music. Dunn also pulled up to the gas station pumps. Finding the volume of the music objectionable, Dunn asked Davis and his friends to lower the volume. Matters quickly escalated, and Dunn ended up shooting and killing Davis. Dunn is white, and Davis is black.

The State, and Davis supporters, claim that Dunn simply murdered Davis “over loud music.” Dunn, and his defense counsel, argue that he shot in response to threats of imminent deadly force made by the young men in the car, and their apparent display of a firearm. He maintains that these factors raised a reasonable fear of imminent death, and he that he fired in lawful self-defense.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 3, in about 3 ½ weeks.

Now, back to Judge Healey.

The Court overseeing the Dunn trial has, over the course of 2013, entered a variety of orders suppressing the release of various discovery evidence. to the media Specifically:

On April 1, 2013, Judge Bass (then presiding) entered an order sealing the names of witnesses revealed during discovery.

On August 1, 2013, Judge Healey (having replaced Cooper, who had replaced Bass) extended the April 1 order to the date of trial.

On October 24, 2013, Judge Healey entered, sua sponte (meaning, on its own initiative), an order restricting public access to various discovery. Of particular concern to the judge, apparently, was some content of letters written by Dunn while in jail. Healey explained that he believed these portions could be perceived as racially inflammatory and undermine Dunn’s ability to obtain a fair trial.

Incidentally, all of these orders to suppress discovery and deny it to the media were made without any prior notice to the media, without any evidentiary hearing, and without any opportunity for the media to respond to the court’s orders—all steps that are required by law before discovery materials can be closed from the public view.

As one would expect, the media did not take kindly to all this discovery material being withheld from them, and so on October 28, 2013 they asked permission of the court to be qualified as Intervenors—in other words, as a party that could argue motions before the court even though they represented neither the State nor the defense.

When this status was granted by the court, the media filed a motion to have Judge Healey’s October 24 motion vacated. A hearing on this motion was held on November 7, 2013, with the result that the media’s request to have the October 24 motion vacated was denied by Judge Healey. The media representatives would then go on to appeal the matter to the 1st District Court of Appeals (1st DCA), which oversees Judge Healey’s court.

It was this November 7 hearing where things got truly bizarre, to such a degree that the 1st DCA would label the circumstances “beyond just disturbing.”

(One of the less bizarre, but still notable, aspects of this hearing was that its active participants included both State Prosecutor Angela Corey and Assistant State Prosecutor John Guy—Guy being infamous for having repeatedly shouted “fucking coons” at the top of his lungs throughout the Zimmerman trial. You ask if I’m surprised they were both personally involved in this fiasco of a hearing? Hahaha! No.)

Florida Assistant State Prosecutor John Guy

Florida Assistant State Prosecutor John Guy

The purpose of the November 7 hearing was, of course, to argue the merits and rule on the media’s motion to have the October 24 discovery suppression order vacated. The parties to this motion necessarily include the media—accepted by the Court as Intervenors—the State, and the defense, with Judge Healey presiding as the objective decision maker applying the law.

The transcript of that day’s events in Judge Healey’s courtroom, however, revealed something very odd. The hearing, as described above, and including all the relevant parties, did indeed occur. But immediately prior to the hearing, Judge Healey held what might be called an unofficial pre-hearing in which the exact same issues were discussed. Except that at this pre-hearing all the parties were represented BUT FOR  the party whose motion was to be heard—the media. (It emerged in this non-hearing hearing that a major rationale for suppression of discovery evidence was that the State didn’t want to release the ~160 hours of Dunn’s jail-recorded phone calls without having first listened to and redacted them, and the media was unwilling to pay the $6,000 cost demanded by the State to do this work–especially, one can assume, given the very little value that can remain following an aggressive redaction process)

Remarkably, Judge Healey, the State, and the defense collectively discussed at length legal strategies for rationalizing a denial of the media’s motion—all without the media representatives themselves being present. Once the Court, the State, and the defense had all agreed upon their preferred approach, the media was brought into the courtroom as if the parties were only then beginning to argue the motion. A transcript of the day’s hearing (including the bizarre “pre-hearing”) can viewed by clicking here.

On November 19, 2013, Judge Healey unsurprisingly rejected the media’s motion to vacate the existing orders suppression discovery materials. The media promptly appealed to the 1st DCA, which immediately recognized the odd circumstances of the November 7 hearing. As Judge Scott Makar of the 1st DCA was to comment :

I do find it disturbing. When I was reading the transcript [of the November 7 trial court hearing] . . . I got to page ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, and I’m thinking, “Where’s the media [representatives]?” There is this hearing going on, with all the merits of the motions being discussed, and the details, factual details, being discussed between the trial judge, prosecutor, I think defense counsel was there. And I’m thinking, “Why am I reading this, because this isn’t the hearing?” And then all of a sudden, it goes on the record and Petitioners [the media representatives] show up and there is a hearing. Now I find it . . . beyond just disturbing, that there was this pre-hearing that went on without the interested party being on notice [informed] of it and being present.

The result was that the State prosecutors, the defense, and the trial judge were all scheming in secret chambers on how best to deny the media’s motion for access to the discovery material. (Based on prior experience with the Zimmerman case I do not anticipate any persons involved to suffer any sanctions whatever. The reason? Florida.)

On December 18, the 1st DCA issued an order vacating both the November 19 rejection of the media’s motion and the earlier October 25 order suppressing the discovery materials. This was done without prejudice, meaning the parties or even the court itself could immediately reinstate essentially identical orders.

Prior to any such order taking effect, however, the DCA required that the trial court:

“immediately convene an evidentiary hearing, after providing appropriate notice to the Petitioners [the media], for the purpose of determining whether closure (including, but not limited to, deferral of public access to pretrial discovery materials upon timely in camera review of such materials) in this cause is warranted by law. [ . . . ] Following the hearing, the trial court shall promptly enter an order, stating with specificity its findings of fact and its reasons for granting or denying closure in this matter. Any party or intervenor adversely affected by such order may file a timely petition for review with this court.”

Click here to read the 1st DCA ruling on the matter.

Essentially the DCA told the trial court it could try again to suppress discovery material, if it wanted to, but it would have to do so the proper way—with an actual evidentiary hearing that evaluated the actual evidence, and with proper notice to the media. They also made sure the media understood that if they didn’t like how the trial court handled the do-over, they were free to rush back to the DCA to get things straightened out.

The results of this DCA ruling on Judge Healey’s handling of discovery materials?

Apparently not much, because yesterday the media felt obliged to take the DCA up on its offer to run on back if matters weren’t resolved to their liking. They filed yet another motion with the DCA asking it again to vacate the earlier orders of Judges Bass and Healey closing discovery evidence from the public.

To see this most recent motion by the media for access to the full discovery materials, filed yesterday (December 7, 2014), click here.

With the trial now scheduled to take place in less than 30 days, time has now become of the essence. And, in consequence, I anticipate the velocity of news on this case to increase dramatically.

In separate news on the case, it seems that all civil suits resulting from the shooting have been settled, effective as of last week.  The parents of Jordan Davis has sued for wrongful death, as well as claims of certain defamatory statements alleged by Dunn against Davis.  The parents of the other young men in the car had also brought suits, but these have also been reported settled.

None of the terms of any of the settlements were disclosed, a common occurence.  Michael Dunn has been declared indigent for purposes of receiving state aid in paying for his legal counsel, so it seems unlikely that much blood was squeezed from that stone.  His insurance company, Progressive Select Insurance, had been arguing vigorously as recently as December 18 that they had no duty to cover these various suits, but perhaps a mutually agreeable resolution was achieved.

Stay tuned, right here at Legal Insurrection, for more details and legal analysis as they emerge.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.

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Comments

Wholly CRAP…!!!

The judge, prosecutor and defense ALLLLLL broke very serious ethical cannons in holding an ex parte hearing, as you describe, Andrew!

What ARE these people eating/drinking/smoking…???

    It’s so shocking, I don’t even know what to say. 🙂

    Why bother with notice and public hearings at all? Let’s just have some anonymous people in back rooms decide what the evidence is, who might be guilty, and what their sentence ought to be.

    Sounds AWESOME.

    WHY AREN’T SOME OF THESE PEOPLE GOING TO JAIL? ESPECIALLY THE REPEAT OFFENDERS? (Yes, I’m talking to YOU, Angela and John.)

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

This is similar to the deposition approval that the defense in the GZ trial obtained from the DCA to depose the lawyer/friend of the Martins. I am not sure but I do not believe they ever got that deposition even though it was ordered by the DCA. If that is correct then this will probably be ignored too.

BannedbytheGuardian | January 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Say what? A guy does not like the loud music coming from a parked car at the garage & he asks them to turn it down.

1- What did the ‘ask’ entail?

2_ is he physically or emotionally supersensitive to noise (it happens ) & does he go off in spazz or paranoia attack ? (it happens ).

3_ Did he just not like the music or the people in the car?

No amount of judicial logic is going to solve this. But there is a dead guy & the death has to be accounted for. i predict the outcome will not be anywhere near perfection regardless of Floridian legal peculiarities.

BTw were both locals ?

    If you haven’t been following the case so far, you can catch up with the details from the local paper: Michael Dunn-Jordan Davis

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Amy in FL. | January 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks . i was following locally the case of the 12 year old prosecuted by angela correy as an adult & thus theoretically liable for execution. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

      i will make myself an immune strengthening ginger & honey tea & then tackle this one.

        The 12-year-old child was never “liable for execution”, not even “theoretically”. America doesn’t execute children.

          Careful, he’s liable to define a 26-year-old as a “child”–after all, it’s still on its parents health insurance. 🙂

          –Andrew @LawSelfDefense

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Amy in FL. | January 8, 2014 at 7:43 pm

          Last i read there was a campaign (not too big ) to not have him tried as an adult which if found guilty COULD lead to his execution in the future.

          But yes he would be a winner in the health insurance stakes either way until 26 . He has just got to get there first. if he stays in prison he will get actual health care . if he gets let out his mamma might have pushed out some more half sisters to knock off.

          The BeeGees wrote Stayin Alive in Florida . it ought be the state anthem.

    You seem to be assuming I’m an apologist of some sort for Michael Dunn.

    Perhaps you’re (mistakenly) extrapolating form my position on the Zimmerman trial, and assuming I would defend ALL white defendants claiming self-defense against ALL black victims.

    Except, I’m not racist. I’m just a lawyer, so maybe a half-step better.

    Based on the evidence as it has become known to me, I fully expect Michael Dunn to be convicted, perhaps even of the first-degree murder with which he’s charged. The forensic evidence, in terms of round count and trajectory, do not seem to me to be consistent with self-defense against an unarmed opponent, and his effective flight from the scene (he didn’t call the police, THEY called him) is consciousness of guilt evidence that I think will be impossible to overcome.

    Nevertheless, he is still entitled to due process, as are we observers to the trial process. The rules don’t change just because you suspect the guy will be convicted. Indeed, HE needs the rules MOST OF ALL. As do we all.

    What do you think will happen if the general populace believes the American criminal justice system has degraded to something no better than found in third-world countries? In a nation as well-armed, and as skilled at arms, as America?

    There are unexpected consequences lurking here that no sane American citizen ought to want to see unleashed.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      1st degree murder? No. At most I see this as a guy who got upset and pulled out a baseball ball and started smashing the car. Except instead of a bat he used a gun. That would be second degree.

        Except he keeps making racist-colored remarks/writings, even his GF when interviewed cites him talking such stuff, which will be easily extrapolated by the prosecution as racial malice. Which WILL support 1st.

        In contrast, they were never able to pin ANYTHING racist on Zimmerman, in fact all the evidence was contrary.

        Here, not so much.

        It’s important to keep in mind that what counts here is not what is true, but which side’s narrative is most compelling. He’s handed the prosecution a lot of ammo.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      is that to me?

      I am not assuming anything but like anyone first reading this is thinking WTH happened here?

      i do think the noise aspect is interesting especially if he has had occupational /military exposure to loud/sudden noise.

      BTW even 3rd world nations especially those that maintained their French or British justice systems can successfully weigh the scales. American justice just gets more tv shows.

      I’m so glad you’re covering this case, Andrew. I’ve been following it for over a year now and I had no idea AC and JG were up to their usual shenanigans. I agree with you that Dunn will be convicted, and given the evidence so far, he does appear to have a racist streak. As for the kids, Jordan Davis’ drug tests came back clean and there’s been no evidence presented that he was anything other than a nice kid, hanging out with his friends and listening to loud music, which IMO is quite common and not the least bit indicative of “thug” behavior.

    your level of stupidity probably is what leads to your banned by name.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to dmacleo. | January 8, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Says Mr 2014 Stupid Disease. Fibromyalgia . VOOOOOOOODOOOOOO meds workin?.

        I note you didn’t deny the suggestion of your stupidity.

        Fail.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 8, 2014 at 11:35 pm

          Why would I ? And what standing do you have Mr NE lawyer to fail anyone?

          Judge Judy Syndrome.

          Oh, you took that “fail” literally?

          You’re afraid it’s going on your permanent record? Might damage your GPA? Hurt your chances of getting into J-school?

          Well, so sorry.

          Here, instead, you can print out this post as your “SUCCESS!!!!” reward. Attach it to your CV. It will take you far.

          Sheesh.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

          Why thanks. i shall put it on my internet CV.

          Not quite from Boston Legal heights but it will have to do. At my interview i shall try to say that Massachusetsomewhere is just as good )

          It’s been suggested, Banned, that I’ve been excessively harsh with you.

          I’ve been known to be wrong once or twice before, so I’ll defer to the exterior voice of reason.

          I apologize for any offense I may have caused.

          Certainly, you should feel free (and you are free) to comment here without check, absent any egregious comments, which you have NOT to my knowledge evidenced, and which in any case would apply to us all.

          So, rest assured, if you are mocked in the future it will be in more soothing and sultry terms. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 9, 2014 at 1:11 am

          No way jose. I did not even notice.

          Don’t go changing ,

          But in your honour I will go & listen to The Petshoppe Boys & Elvis do their versions of that very remorseful lament .

          From you to me.

          platypus in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 9, 2014 at 2:11 am

          That’s not the way lawyers talk. 🙂

          Having followed your fascinating blog and participating in the comments for a while, I’ve devised a rule that I suggest to you: I decline to engage in a battle of wits, with an unarmed adversary.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | January 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    What missing are some of the events. When Dunn complained Davis apparently turned down the music. Then some of the others began arguing with Davis and turned it back up. Dunn says that at that point he saw something that looked like a shotgun pointed at him. He then reached into his glove compartment and started firing.

    Then van left. As the van left Dunn fired three more shots, he says to make them keep their heads down. Then Dunn’s girlfriend came out of the store and Dunn left, Then the van came back.

    Police searched the van and didn’t find a shotgun. Witnesses say the guys never threw anything out of the van, but the van was away in an area where a shotgun could be dumped. Police didn’t search that area until much later. ( Morons! )

      The number of shots fired, from so many different positions, especially when the vehicle was retreating (unless there was evidence of a rearward muzzle, which there is not) just doesn’t come across as a compelling narrative of innocence. Maybe panicked defense? Maybe enough to get it down to manslaughter?

      But then he fled the scene. Not merely for safety (which would be fine, of course), but he NEVER called the cops to report his considerable use of deadly force. Now THEY are the complainants, Dunn is the respondent, and his conduct is consistent with “flight from the scene,” and consciousness of guilt evidence.

      I’m not saying the young men didn’t talk shit, maybe even threatened him–but the total body of evidence does not seem to support the degree and duration of deadly force he deployed. That car had bullet holes all down it’s length, and in the rear. All from a vehicle in which no weapon was found.

      I put myself in his position, and I don’t see that outcome.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        I’m sorry, but a white guy asking some black kids to turn down their loud music just strikes me as someone who was “itchin” for a fight.

        We may live in a country where someone has the “right” to request that another person turn down their music, but having the right to do this and having the good sense to ask are worlds apart.

        I got not sympathy for Dunn at this point.

          randian in reply to Redneck Law. | January 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

          What does white vs black have to do with it? Whites can’t ask black kids to behave themselves, or have we lost all sense that adults can and should correct children’s behavior?

          What’s the goal? Survive to see the grandchildren, or correct the perceived misbehavior of other social demographics?

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Randian, are you serious? “What does white vs. black have to do with it?”

          You need a reality check. In real life, where I live, asking a group of blacks to “turn the music down” is nothing but an invitation to a confrontation. As I said, you may have the right to make the request, but there are times when you should just keep your mouth shut.

          In my opinion, Dunn asked for and received a confrontation, then overreacted with the use of deadly force.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Redneck Law. | January 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm

          So, whites should just cower in fear and shut up?

          Jack R. asks “So, whites should just cower in fear and shut up?”

          Ignoring the racism in that little snark, I again direct you to my original point, which I think was clarified by Andrew: Is a confrontation worth it?

          Which demographic spends the most on “Ghetto Thug Rap”? Blacks or Whites? It’s young white kids. I wouldn’t tell them to turn it down either, if I believed doing so would RESULT IN A NEEDLESS CONFRONTATION.

          Peace out, JRT.

          ConradCA in reply to Redneck Law. | January 11, 2014 at 10:54 pm

          White kids may spend more money on rap music because they are wealthier and there are more of them. The important question is who belongs to the ghetto gangster culture?

Humphreys Executor | January 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

This is shaping up to be as entertaining as a Three Stooges pie-fight scene.

Because, Florida.

And that’s really all there is to say about that.

Once the Media was granted intervenor status October 28, 2013, it was entitled to all notice and due process just as it it was a Plaintiff or Defendant. The Media became an actual “party” to the state’s case.

For the Judge, Prosecutor and Defense to have an Ex Parte Hearing (without a proper party present – The Media), it violated the Rules of Procedure and could subject all three to sanctions. That being said, who is going to sanction the trial judge? Another judge or the FCA?

Strange. I would have challenged the Media’s intervenor status, but since they didn’t, it’s too late.

    Ragspierre in reply to Redneck Law. | January 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Coupla thangs…

    Florida is very big on OPEN processes, so the media have a very strong legal position in matters like this.

    Judges are members of the bar, like all other lawyers who participated in this, and they are also subject to discipline by judicial bodies.

    This was very likely a violation of criminal procedure, but it almost certainly was a serious ethical violation. It actually goes to fundamental due process, seems to me.

      Due process violation seems the right call, EXCEPT the defense is in on it.

      I expect the defense rationally does not want some bad stuff in those letters–and I have the letters, but have not yet read them–getting out in public. So, the defense is all in on this bull.

      So whose due process is being hurt? The media? I expect that’s technically true, but it won’t carry the kind of moral authority as if it were the defendant being railroaded.

      I just find it almost imaginable that a hearing would be held without the party of interest noticed beforehand or present. I can’t imagine a judge going ahead and holding a hearing without the party present, absent obvious abuse of process by the party, which is clearly not the case here. The media showed up when they were told to show up, and were prepared to argue their case.

      The whole thing stinks, even if it does not on the surface disposition the defendant. What about the NEXT case, where it would?

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

MouseTheLuckyDog | January 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm

The deposition was taken, I bve2live it happened over the weekend of the trial.

    This is correct. But the value of a deposition on the eve of trial is minimal.

    The real value of a deposition emerges as you bring investigative powers to bear, to vette what’s been said, develop and follow up leads, find contradictory evidence, etc. This all takes weeks, sometimes months.

    Delaying discovery or witnesses until the eve of trial is just about as effective as having concealed it entirely.

    Which was, of course, the goal of the State and Crump all along.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | January 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Sorry this somehow got missposted it was supposed to be a response to inspectorrudy.

cannot find it now, so please don’t just take this wrongly, but wasn’t there accusations/insinuations of this type of stuff involving bondi before?
something in the recesses of my memory I cannot bring fwd making me think there was.
am I way off base?
just wondering how ingrained this stuff is down there.

    I don’t live in Florida, and my knowledge is rather limited to the Zimmerman case and (increasingly) this Dunn case, neither of which has had much involvement in either of those cases, except on the early periphery in the case of Zimmerman.

    But, as one of my least favorite politicians, Michael Dukakis, used to say, the fish rots from the head.

    This kind of casually egregious conduct doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Somehow, it’s become the norm.

    Is it as bad as a surgeon ignoring sanitary practices?

    No. It’s worse. Far worse.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      well yeah, I was just thinking of that too, as an abstract item but looking for a definitive example.
      but I wish I could tease that errant memory out of my head.
      one of the beauties of fibromyalgia is stuff is stuck in your head and not accessible until you see a trigger (usually visual) then it all floods in.
      so…I am waiting for a flood 🙂
      and I may be WAY off base too, very good chance of that.

Henry Hawkins | January 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

From what I’m hearing so far, with all the standard codicils about potential new evidence, it sounds to me like the prosecution will have an easy time convincing a judge or jury that a racist white man saw a golden opportunity to off some non-whites and get away with it on self-defense. He didn’t see clearly, which dovetails with being racist, if such he is.

Mr. Dunn is screwed.

MouseTheLuckyDog | January 8, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Before I say anything else about the actual case, let me address the actual issue presented here.

I’m not surprised that the court did this. All three parties have an interest in a fair trial. The defense for obvious reasons, the judge because it is his job, the prosecution in the cause of justice in general. In this case I don’t find the third compelling on this particular prosecution team, but they still want a fair trial to avoid being overturned.

The press has no such constraint. In fact, looking at the presses coverage of the legal system, I think it is fair to say the would rather have an unfair trial or a lynching. Makes better press you know.

So when the parties interested in a fair trial freeze out the press, well yes they should follow the rules, but I’m not going to be too fussed about it.

    “So when the parties interested in a fair trial freeze out the press, well yes they should follow the rules, but I’m not going to be too fussed about it.”

    That’s your privilege.

    But _I_ will.

    Judge Healey COULD have denied the press Intervenor status–and then had to defend that decision.

    Instead, he granted them that status, then snuck around in secret.

    It’s despicable, reprehensible, disgusting.

    You REALLY want “justice” dealt behind closed doors? (I mean, more than it inappropriately is already?)

    There’s a reason why Florida, and many other states, have legislation providing for liberal sharing of discovery with the public, and it is PRECISELY to deny this type of conduct.

    The actors here should be held accountable for their breach of the rules–ALL of them. Judge, State,and defense (not, of course, the actual defendant, who doesn’t know about any of this).

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but would this sort of conduct end up being grounds for a successful appeal?

      It seems to me that one of the most compelling reasons to fight for a scrupulously honest legal system for everyone, is that it will ensure both that the innocent are not wrongfully convicted, and that the guilty are not wrongfully set free.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | January 9, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I agree. Our media is responsible for a great deal of the ignorance we find in this country, particularly in the political arena.

    IANAL, but I do know that there is a legal doctrine called “unclean hands”, which means that a party in the case at hand has behaved or acted in an unethical way. Even though the media hasn’t done so in this case because they’ve been denied that opportunity, the proven general dishonesty of the media, which has their own agenda and adjusts narratives to support it, brings that doctrine to my mind. There is no circumstance in which I can ever consider the media a worthy “injured party” even though they may be considered such from a legal standpoint.

      Strictly speaking, “unclean hands” is a defense in equity. It devolves from the ancient idea that to appeal to equity, one must comport to equitable conduct.

      It wouldn’t apply, and for a number of reasons, the first being that the rights of the press are not equitable.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | January 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

        Thanks, and I do understand the difference and basically said it wouldn’t apply here. This case isn’t a civil lawsuit. My point was simply that the media is so provably untruthful and unfair, consistently, that I couldn’t care less that they got shafted. My objection to what took place begins and ends with the fact that the proper and defined process wasn’t followed by…(sigh)…the judge himself.

        It seems that every day more of the standards that made us great are eroded. Ostensibly we are not a banana republic, but in the big picture that’s less clear than it once was.

          JackRussellTerrierist: “My point was simply that the media is so provably untruthful and unfair, consistently, that I couldn’t care less that they got shafted. My objection to what took place begins and ends with the fact that the proper and defined process wasn’t followed by…(sigh)…the judge himself.”

          The MSM is certainly co-opted, without question.

          Keep in mind, however, that if the pre-trial discovery had been suppressed in the Zimmerman case the ability of myself and other bloggers would have been severely limited in our ability to critically analyze the case free of all the “noise” in the developing mythology of events.

          There’s a reason Florida has an open records law, and it’s to avoid justice in secret. The Court is limited to suppressing information only for specific purposes, not on a whim, or to make the State or the defense happy.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | January 9, 2014 at 11:20 pm

          Andrew, thanks for the reply. Do you happen to know what specific circumstances would allow the court to suppress information under FL law?

          Haha, the answer is yes, and no. I do have that detailed info around here somewhere, but I’m strangely unmotivated to go dig it up as I near midnight, my time. 🙂

          But in short, it usually involves private information not relevant to the facts of the case, and which could otherwise prove harmful to innocents–so, the home addresses of witnesses, for example.

          Blanket proscriptions on scores of hours of audio tape would not be expected to make the cut.

          Ironically, it was the State that insisted Dunn be secured until trial, now it is they who have to struggle with the burden of transcribing all the audio of ever phone call he made WHILE they had him secured (and in which EVERY call is recorded).

          Had Dunn been on bail, on home detention, the State would have entirely escaped this burden.

          Irony.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | January 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        Andrew, thanks.

    Phillep Harding in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | January 9, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Check up on what happens in Family Courts if you want to see what secrecy leads to.

Okay Andrew, here goes. I think it is possible that this is all a pretext. If we assume that there is serious racism in the social fabric in that area, wouldn’t this be a way to let the defendant go? If this press kerfluffle ends up tainting the jury pool with excessive pre-trial publicity, they might not be able to prove much more than manslaughter. And what if there’s a viable temporary insanity defense? I can picture the prosecutor not wanting to be in the position of wanting a drawn out fight in the appeals court over every pre-trial decision.

And then there is the possibility that these little music aficionados also are thug lifestyle aficionados, and that he knew that because they told him as part of a taunt. We also do not know if there was any prior history between them which would explain the first degree murder charge.

It makes no sense to grant intervenor and then do substantive ex parte. It makes even less sense to have the court reporter transcribe it or to have the video system on (whichever they use down there). This is why Occam’s Razor holds that the simplest answer is probably the correct answer — it’s a complete pile of steaming poo pretext.

BannedbytheGuardian | January 9, 2014 at 4:40 am

9 minutes of You were on my mind .

Brenda lee elvis & willie Nelson on one youtube piece. I am in a mood for Forgiveness –

Maybe you didn’t treat me .
Quite as good as you should have

Maybe you didn’t love me quite as often as you could have
Little things you should not have said & done …….

You made me feel second best

I will give you one more chance to keep me satisfied……

Richard Aubrey | January 9, 2014 at 8:37 am

Everybody, most especially legal carriers, should know not to approach situations which might escalate. In effect, this increases the range of behaviors available to the buttheads.
But that’s the breaks.
Dunn is a moron and, including his motor mouth subsequently, has no chance. Nor should he.
That said, playing loud music, mostly to annoy others, is not uncommon. There are noise ordinances for that.
I’ve seen guys leave their cars in the parking lot to go into a store with the sound system cranked up, the woofers woofing at max volume, just because they’re assholes and want to annoy everybody else with impunity.
If a moron like Dunn had had more of that experience than he can handle in a short period, he might have finally had it.
Is it necessay to show an actual shotgun in the car? How about, say, a crowbar looking like one? A small shovel seen handle-first?

    Phillep Harding in reply to Richard Aubrey. | January 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Bad manners is an expression of dominance.

    There need not be an ACTUAL weapon, but merely something that a reasonable person, in those circumstances, could have reasonably perceived as a weapon.

    There seems to be none of that, however. And, in any case, Dunn’s difficulties go beyond the issue of the “weapon.”

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    “Dunn is a moron and, including his motor mouth subsequently, has no chance. Nor should he.”

    This sounds like a dangerous way of thinking. Morons have the same civil rights and protections as anyone else, and should. And a motor mouth by itself shouldn’t convict anyone. “Free speech” need not have anyone’s approval to be protected. It may help to establish “state of mind”. But again, “state of mind” by itself shouldn’t convict anyone. Hatred isn’t illegal, nor should it be.

    However, hatred + gunfire can be used to give a clue to intent, which will help determine the charges.

I knew I picked the right place to park during the GZ case and this confirms it. You don’t follow the narrative of a flock but form your own opinions (I as one without legal expertise must resort to defer to expert opinions to some extent).

Emotionally, I see both sides of the sticky media argument.

On one side, I completely agree that the press is out of hand with their agenda and ratings driven bloodlust.

On the other side, suppressing the media by excusing such tactics sets a dangerous precedent. What if, in fact, there was story to tell without agenda? Beyond that, the watchful public eye has a way of forming a check and balance to prevent corruption…it turned out to be a double edged sword during the Zimmerman trial. It got ugly and people took sides but if it was completely in the dark do schemers behind the scenes get to pick and choose the verdict on their whims?

    rantbot in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    In the political system described in America’s founding documents, it’s important to have an independent press (that is, one not controlled by the government). It’s not particularly important that it be a good, competent, or honest press. A press with those qualities would be nice, but we’ve never had one, and probably can’t expect one in the future. The colonial-era press was downright hysterical. The Civil War-era press was downright treasonous. But the press was, at least, independent.

    Nowadays, it’s hard to claim that it is. The MSM is little more than the Party’s propaganda arm. This will not serve a republic well (or, for that matter, a democracy, either). The historically interesting thing is that none of the classical political philosophical or political writers seem to have predicted that the press’s emasculation and subjugation would be voluntary. All assumed that it would come about through government oppression. And there certainly were attempts to do that. The country ran off the rails quite early with the Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to, among other things, criticize the US government. Newspaper editors were imprisoned for such criticism, some even sentenced to hang (sentences which President Adams commuted). But the modern surrender of the press to the government has been voluntary. And there are no two sides to that – both sides are disastrous.

I don’t see how the media could have been part of the discussion of the evidence. Once they are told about the evidence there would be nothing preventing them from publishing it.

They are dishonest liars and work as propagandists for the progressive fascists (Democrats). How many lies did they tell about Zimmerman? All to support Tyrant Obama’s reelection campaign.

The judge should never had allowed them to be part of the case.

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