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Michael Dunn Tag

Readers may recall the 2014 trial of Michael Dunn for the killing of teenager Jordan Davis, as well as three counts of attempted murder of Davis' friends, in an incident apparently triggered by Dunn's annoyance with the teens' loud music.  We covered this trial in great detail right here at Legal Insurrection.  Following his conviction Dunn filed an appeal "on the ground that the State failed to present evidence rebutting his self-defense claim." Yesterday, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed Dunn's conviction in a concise 6-page opinion.  (That opinion is embedded below.)

The re-trial of Michael Dunn began today "for real", with the jury impanelled and the state and defense presenting their opening statements.   Dunn is on trial for the killing of Jordan Davis, a black teenager Dunn fired upon during a confrontation with Davis and three of Davis' friends, who were sitting in their SUV.  Dunn claimed self-defense, arguing that Davis pointed a shotgun-like object at him, threatened to kill him, and began to exit the SUV to attack him. It was only then, Dunn claimed, that he retrieved his handgun from the glove compartment of his car and fired on the SUV. Complicating Dunn's defense were the facts that he fled the scene, that he never contacted police, and that nobody observed the purported threatening actions of the people in the SUV except for Dunn. Dunn was convicted at the first trial of three counts of attempted second degree murder, but the jury hung on the second degree murder count with respect to Jordan Davis, the only one of the SUV passengers injured in the shooting.

Jury selection begins today for the re-trial of Michael Dunn on a murder charge for the shooting death of teenager Jordan Davis, reports Business Insider. At his prior criminal trial Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of "throwing missiles" (firing a bullets) at a motor vehicle, but not on the charge of murder (on which the jury hung). We followed the Michael Dunn case closely here at Legal Insurrection, doing far too many posts to list individually:  those interested in viewing them can click here. A quick summary of the facts of the case are that Michael Dunn found himself parked beside an SUV containing Jordan Davis and three friends.  Dunn claimed that Davis threatened to kill him, pointed a shotgun-like object at him, and began to emerge from the SUV.  In response, Dunn claims, he retrieved his lawfully licensed pistol from the glove compartment of his car and began engaging the SUV with fire.

Jacksonville news broadcaster news4jax is reporting that a September re-trial date has been set for Michael Dunn, with jury selection to begin September 22. This past February Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder for shooting at an SUV carrying Jordan Davis and three companions, all black teens.  Dunn himself is a middle-aged white male. The three convictions were for firing shots at the three surviving teens as they fled.  Davis was killed by the first three rounds fired, but the jury hung on the associated charge of first degree murder. Immediately upon the jury returning this finding Florida Attorney General Angela Corey announced that she should would be re-trying Dunn on the murder charge.  The date for that re-trial was initially set for early May, but as mentioned above has now been moved to late September.

Yesterday I promised an update on the key self-defense trials coming our way over the course of this summer, and so here I am to keep that promise. Before I get into that, however, I'd like to share a couple of items that have been brought to my attention in the last 24 hours.

"Law of Self Defense" Ranked #1 by Amazon in Sports Shooting Category

"The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition," has been ranked by Amazon.com as it's #1 seller in the Sports Shooting category. Law of Self Defense #1 in Amazon Sport Shooting Category Now, I'm not sure how self-defense has much to do with sports shooting, but you take the #1's where you find them. Two critical keys to achieving this #1 status have certainly been the Twitter campaign launched against me by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the uproarious kerfuffle generated by the antics of CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. So, before proceeding to substantive matters, I'd like to thank @CSGV, @SunnyHostin, and the UC Berkeley School of Law--I couldn't have done it without you guys.

CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin has Wikipedia Page Updated to Reflect Reality

Last night somebody brought to my attention that the Wikipedia page for CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin had been updated to reflect her losing debate performance as well as her welshing on our wager. I feel obliged to note that I had nothing whatever to do with this entry, but also that it is entirely factually correct. Sunny Hostin Wiki with debate welch OK, now onto the self-defense cases coming up in 2014.

At Michael Dunn's recent "loud music" murder trial the jury found him guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of hurling missiles at an occupied vehicle--convictions sufficient for up to 75 years in prison. (Hat-tip to ‏@TCinOP for pointing out the News4Jax piece on this story.) The jury hung, however, on the charge of first degree murder (or any of its lesser included offenses, such as second degree murder and manslaughter) in the shooting death of Jordan Davis, apparently because at least three jurors they felt that the State prosecutors had failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt (the legal standard for a legal defense of self-defense in all American states except for Ohio). Florida State Prosecutor Angela Corey, who led the first Dunn prosecution, had consistently stated that she intends to re-try Dunn on the hung murder charge--and now a date for that re-trial has been set.  And it's not far off:  May 5. Simultaneously with setting the re-trial date, the judge also ruled that Dunn's sentencing his existing convictions will be deferred until after a verdict has been reached on the murder charge.  Given the complexity of sentencing generally--typically a pre-sentencing report taking several weeks to prepare is required--and the probable likelihood that a verdict on the murder charges will be in hand in less than 8 weeks, it makes sense to simply have one sentencing process after the second trial. In addition, there is some uncertainty under Florida law whether convictions involving the state's "10-20-Life" statute must be run consecutively or whether they may be run concurrently.  The difference for Dunn on even just his existing convictions would be between a sentence of as long as 75 years if run consecutively (effectively a life sentence) and as "few" as 20 years if run concurrently.  
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