Florida continues to reach new heights of “I can’t believe that actually happened. You have to be kidding me. Really? …” ***cringing in stunned silence***
Yahoo news is reporting today that the FL legislature is in the process of voting to EXPAND SYG:
<blockquote>On Thursday, a National Rifle Association-backed bill to expand the state’s self-defense statutes sailed through a key state House committee with bipartisan support. It is expected to pass the full chamber. …it amends “stand your ground” to include the threat of force, not just the use of force itself</blockquote>
Of course, this goes on top of the “no duty to repeat” and “it’s irrelevant whether the defendent was actually in danger as long as he believed he was in danger” parts. So, if this expansion had been in effect during the Dunn trial, Dunn wouldn’t have needed to claim that Jordan exited the car, or even that Jordan brandished a gun. He could just have said, “He said he was going to kill me, and he sure seemed dead serious about it, and I believed he meant it, so I figured he had to have some kin d of weapon available to carry out that threat, and i wasn’t going to wait around to find out the hard way, so I shot him before he could do anything to me.” (Kinda like, ‘We’re going to go to war with Iraq and kill 10s of thousands of civilians because we’re not sure their military doesn’t have WMD.)
I’m going to go throw up now.
I’m back now. I forgot I haven’t eaten anything in the last 12 hours. So I’m just neuron-vomiting. Which, unlike a good chunk blow, doesn’t have that purging effect of ‘I feel so much better now that that’s over.” It’s just an Energizer Bunny of psychic pain that keeps going, and going, and going…
The bat-shit crazy proponents of the SYG expansion are — disingenuously IMHO — claiming the purpose of the change is prevent recurrences of the Marissa Alexander case. So if a woman claimed “I thought he was going to beat me so I fired a shot over his head to scare him off” she wouldn’t be thrown in the slammer for 20 years. Er, um, Florida, your law allows people to Stand Their Ground with LETHAL force. So you’re going to give Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cards for “I thought he was going to beat me so I put two hollow points through his left ventricle.” Uh, did you guys THINK about this at all?
Oh, I get it! Since you know gals like Samantha Scheibe keep a gun under the bed, you’re just trying to establish an effective deterrent so GZ doesn’t smash any more tables…
In other news, HBO sports reporter (yes, sports) Jon Frankel sent an unchaperoned 13 year old boy out to stores to attempt to buy cigarettes, liquor, a lottery ticket… — in each case he was refused because sales of those items to minors is prohibited by law. I’ll bet you know what comes next: Frankel sent the kid into a gun show where he had no trouble at all buying a weapon. Frankel noted that in Pennsylvania “you have to be 18 to operate a deli counter meat slicer… but you can be 12 and operate a gun.” Hey, no worries! Pennsylvania passed an SYG statute in 2011, so Junior won’t have to go to juvie for mowing down the school bullies!
From Gawker article “George Zimmerman Wants His Normal Life Back”:
George Zimmerman is not getting used to the rest of his life. In a new Spanish language interview with Univision that will air on Sunday night, Zimmerman details exactly how shitty his existence currently is, while also wondering why he can’t live like the rest of us.
First, the grisly details: Zimmerman is $2.5 million in debt. He claims to have post-traumatic stress disorder. He wears a bulletproof vest and follows “safety plans” while in public. He fears being murdered himself. He does not have a job. He does not have health insurance (no Obamacare, eh?). He says that he is homeless.
“Honestly, I [would] love to live a calm life without being in the press. I’d like [to be treated like] any American citizen,” Zimmerman says in the interview, according to a translation by the New York Daily News. “Have a ticket or an argument [and] not have everyone aware. But that’s my life and I do not understand why that is.”
Not surprisingly, the responses in the Gawker comments are mostly along the lines of “Trayvon wants his life back, and your problems are your own damn fault for killing an unarmed kid!” But I want to note something else. These remarks show what an utterly mendacious bull-shit artist this guy is. Read this line (slightly edited) again:
“I would love to live a calm life without being in the press.” Zimmerman says in the interview.
Uh, George, if you really don’t want to be in the press, why are you GIVING INTERVIEWS to any media outlet that will put your fat mug up on the Tube? His statement above is just another LIE. He doesn’t want a calm life away from the spotlight. He’s a pathological narcissist who has been making trouble for himself his entire adult life so he can get people’s attention. He LOVES BEING IN THE PRESS! His little internal timer is going to go off every 30-90 days of quietude, and he’s going to pull some new attention-begging thing — create a new painting, offer himself for a new celebrity spectacle, whine very publicly about how he wishes the nasty media vampires would leave him alone — until people get bored and actually do stop paying attention to him. At which point he will either shrivel up into dust, or embark on some really drastic form of hey-look-at-me insanity that could well be dangerous to other people, and — should GZ survive his self-made Gotterdamerung — could well finally put him into prison for the rest of his days.
So the Dunn jury couldn’t come to a verdict on the killing of Jordan Davis, and the judge declared a mistrial. Some folks are trying to put lipstick on this pig by taking a glass-half-full view of the fact Dunn was convicted of attempted murder of the other kids in the vehicle, and will likely be given a lengthy prison sentence regardless of the eventual outcome of the murder charge.
But the jury could not have been hung unless at least one member of the panel was so thoroughly convinced of Dunn’s claim that Davis had put him in mortal jeopardy that they could not be moved off of that conclusion. Which is absolutely outrageous, since Dunn’s story is clearly transparent bull-shit contradicted by all the other testimony and the physical evidence.
From which I must draw at least two disturbing conclusions:
1. Irrational bigotry, gun lunacy, or the combination thereof remain common enough in Florida that folks with these afflictions are probably going to wind up in every jury pool.
2. Even after the Zimmerman debacle, Conservative prosecutors like Angela Corey remain too chicken-shit to aggressively attempt to weed out the above during voir dire, or to raise the issue of racial intolerance at trial, lest they alienate the wing-nut base of their political allies and patrons (e.g. in this case, FL Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott).
Over on Xena’s blog, Rachael said “I’m glad he didn’t walk.” and then asked, “But is that enough?” I re-post my reply below:
No, it’s not enough.
For that matter, a conviction of Michael Dunn on M1 wouldn’t be enough either.
After all, what we’re talking about here most likely occurred because one or two die-hard bigots and/or gun nuts got onto the jury. A different roll of the dice in terms of who came up in the jury pool could have yielded a different result. But the larger conditions remain the same, and therein lies the problem.
Dunn is a nobody, mere human detritus, and his individual punishment means next to nothing in the big picture. In order to begin to approach “enough” we would need to see some changes in at least one of the various big-picture issues in play here:
a. Persistent wide-spread racist stereotyping of all young Black men as “thugs”.
b. The pernicious influence of the gun lobby and ALEC.
c. The ludicrous self-defense statutes promoted by the above.
d. The ideological orientations that prevent right-wing State Attorneys (e.g. Corey, Guy, et. al.) from prosecuting cases like the Dunn and Zimmerman trials effectively.
While race is obviously a big part of this, IMHO it’s very important to recognize a big part of this, the gun part, is NOT about race at all. The gun lobby wants profit, and like any endeavor ruled by the profit motive, they don’t care where the profit comes from. They would like nothing better for the “lesson” young black men take away from Davis’ death to be, “Damn, Jordan SHOULDA had a shotgun. If I’m going to survive daily life in this sea of gun-crazy crackers, I’d better be able to fight fire with fire.” Whoopee! More gun sales. Back to the Wild West when everybody was packing, no, better than that because in old Tombstone and Dodge it was just all the grown white men who were strapped, and now we’re gonna get EVERYBODY: all the men, women, boys and girls; white, black, brown, yellow, red; straight, gay, trans. No matter what your style, we have a gun for YOU.
The Zimmerman and Dunn trials establish precedent in the public mind if not case law that Florida actually encourages lethal armed response to confrontations. This not only legitimates white-on-black violence (which probably makes up a fairly low percentage of overall violence) but also violence within more homogenous communities. Got a beef with your neighbor, take your gun. Got a beef with your lover or spouse, take your gun. I don’t remember the details or numbers, but I recall hearing that since SYG was passed self-defense acquittals have gone way up, and murder convictions have dropped accordingly. So we have many, many cases that may have involved killers getting off with defenses as thin as GZ’s or Dunn’s, but they never made the news because they lacked the hot-button dramatic appeal of tweaking the racial divide. And with the publicity from the high-profile trials establishing that shoot-first-and-figure-out-your-story-later works, things are only going to get worse. Everywhere, For everybody.
So, yeah, the outcome of Dunn’s case has some symbolic significance in all of this. The big picture will indeed get worse if he is not convicted on re-trial. But the best a conviction can bring is to slow the bleeding (figuratively and literally). Action in a broader sphere will be required to begin to fix the problems, begin to heal the wounds. The Martin and Davis families seem to understand this, as their focus appears to be on the SYG laws more than the fates of the individuals who killed their sons. Alas, that doesn’t seem to draw the same kind of media attention and public interest that accrue when you can point at embodied and individually detestable villains like GZ and Dunn. But IMHO, it’s time to stop obsessing about the leaves, and start looking at who’s planting what trees in the forest.
1: I haven’t been following the Dunn trial, and since I actually have things I need to get done, I won’t be logging into the trial feed, or following blogs devoted to recaps of the proceedings.
2: As a review of the archives on the “We are desperate for donations. Please donate today.” Law Blog will attest (yes, that’s a direct quote), I was quite wrong in my prediction of how the Zimmerman trial would turn out. I thought Rick Scott and Angela Corey couldn’t afford a loss on such a politically charged case, and Corey would go all out to secure a conviction. Oh, how mistaken I was…
But I still think the politics matters, and having dropped the ball on GZ, it’s now REALLY important for these folks to win one. Corey’s actions in the Marissa Alexander case matter here as well. If both Dunn and GZ are walking free while Alexander remains under lock and key, that’s what the pundits would call “really bad optics.” Add in that, AFAIK, Dunn has not become the sort of Treeper/Freeper/Fox News/wing-nut cause celebre GZ became, so I doubt there’d be much political downside for putting Dunn away.
In addition to my hunch that the prosecutors will actually TRY this time, there’s the facts of the case itself. Unlike Trayvon’s killing, there were numerous eye-witnesses to the events immediately surrounding the David shooting. It should be clear from the testimony that Dunn had ample opportunity to retreat, that he initiated the confrontation by walking up to the car to accost the youths for their loud music, and that he continued to fire at the car well after it pulled out and he was no longer in any conceivable danger.
So his defense would seem to come down to “I really thought they had a gun!” Florida’s self-defense statutes may be insane enough that such a declaration could conceivably form grounds for an acquittal. And after the Z case, who knows what kind of instructions the judge might issue? But I just don’t see the external pressure to double-down on the Zimmerman rulings with an even more extreme case, and I have to imagine that judge and jury will be more likely to want to show the rest of the country “We’re not totally bat-shit crazy ALL the time!”
So I’m predicting a conviction, for murder one. Since Florida has lesser included charges available automatically, it’s possible the jury could drop to murder two, but as we learned during the Z trial, with the required extenuating circumstances that’s a very long minimum sentence as well.
We shall see, of course. Share your thoughts, if you have them, and if you’d like to post comments on the progress of the trial, feel free.
Celebrity/attorney/author/talking-head Lisa Bloom has just published a book on the TM/GZ case, apparently focusing on the trial and the prosecution’s errors therein. It’s titled “Suspicion Nation” subtitle on cover: “The Inside Story Of The Trayvon Martin Injustice And Why We Continue To Repeat It.” It’s on Amazon, but only in audiobook and Kindle form, not hard-copy, and only available for pre-order, with announced delivery dates between February 27 and March 4. I could find no published reviews online, so I guess pre-release copies have not gone out to the media, either.
Click for the page on Bloom’s website.
Let’s have this thread be for a discussion more-or-less centered on this book, and keep posts on other matters in the general threads. Since it will probably be awhile until any of us get our hands on the thing (much less plow through it) don’t forget this thread is here, and do come back when the time is right.
The Amazon page notes the Kindle version will cost $10, an .MP3 $11, but also that an audio version can be downloaded for free if you sign-up for a 30-day free trial with Audible. I can’t do those things, because I always forget to cancel them and wind up paying a bunch of fees. I think it will also be on iTunes. Anyway, if/when anyone obtains a digital copy we should figure out a way to share it. No need for us to add to Bloom’s income stemming from the tragic death of TM either…