FLORIDA MAN

Posted in Quick Hits on February 17th, 2014 by Ed

It's possible to beat Florida when considering in isolation any of the things that make a state terrible. For pure racism, there's Mississippi and most of Boston. For robber baron economics as a matter of state policy, there's Texas. For anti-immigrant xeno-racism, there's Arizona. For lunatic Bible thumpers with access to power, there's the Oklahoma-Nebraska-Kansas troika. For third-world looking urban blight, there's Ohio. For corruption, there's Illinois. But no state in this union can match Florida's ability to be close to the worst in every one of these categories simultaneously. Why be great at one thing when you can be really good at everything. In that sense, no state can top Florida for pure shitshow entertainment. It's like a cabaret act of backwardness; it's democracy's meth lab.

Any state with a law that legalizes shooting someone else with no legal burden on the shooter beyond asserting that he or she felt threatened is locked in a permanent struggle to top its own insanity. In that light, the only thing surprising about the verdict in the "loud music" shooting trial – beyond the fact that the middle-aged white shooter was actually found guilty of something – is that it makes even less sense than the Bath Salts guy eating faces.

I'm not a lawyer and I understand that the outcomes of trials are not always logically consistent. That is, they can lead to outcomes that seem illogical but make sense to those who understand all of the intricacies of the law involved in a specific case. While judges and juries can punt on logic, however, verdicts do have to be legally consistent. And I am struggling with all of the powers available to my tiny non-lawyer brain to figure out how a man opens fire on an SUV with four passengers, kills one, and is found not guilty of murder but guilty of attempted murder for the remaining three. When multiple charges come from a single act by the defendant, I don't understand how that act can simultaneously be attempted murder but not a successful attempt at murder.

This is on the jury, plain and simple. There is at least one person in that group of 12 Floridians who voted three times to convict Dunn of attempted second-degree murder yet he or she found the defendant not guilty of murder (first- or second-degree) or manslaughter. That…that is not possible. That is to assert, in non-legal jargon, that he committed a felony against the three teens whom the bullets missed and committed no crime against the one he managed to hit.

For playing loud music. But I digress.

If anyone out there can explain how this is even remotely plausible, I'm all ears. On the plus side, the judge declared a mistrial only on the murder charge so Dunn is going to prison on the attempted murder convictions regardless. We can only hope he cells with one of the tens of thousands of black men railroaded into Florida's prisons.

Well done, Florida. I don't know how the case with the guy murdering a movie patron for texting will top this. But I bet Florida finds a way.