FLORIDA MAN

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.

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64 Responses to “FLORIDA MAN”

  1. Bosh Says:

    Because only one of the kids was playing the music loud?

  2. Hazy Davy Says:

    (sigh). Eaten by your WP blacklist, again.

    I have mercifully been spared this whole story, but is it possible that:
    1) He had a "duty to retreat" from the surviving occupants, since they hadn't acted threatening towards him.
    2) He had no duty to retreat from the apparent, credible threat from the kid who he thought had a gun, and who'd argued with him.

  3. Mo Says:

    Hat tip to Wonkette for a shiny new simile:

    "Dumber than a Florida jury."

  4. SLioy Says:

    What was the mistrial ruling based on? Perhaps that has something to do with it?

  5. J. Dryden Says:

    Eh, it's pretty easy: Under Florida law (and fuck Florida's courts for having this law), you're allowed to blow away anyone who appears to be a credible threat to you. Simple as that: if s/he's a credible threat, you get a free pass. (Seriously, fuck Florida and its government.)

    So: Four kids were involved–three remained passive in the car, while one engaged him and became, on account of being young and black (the shotgun his killer claimed to see was never found or seen by anyone else), a "credible threat" to the middle-aged white guy, who shot at him *and* at the three other kids in the car.

    That was his mistake. He shot too many times, and too poorly. Had he simply blown the head off the one kid and holstered his weapon, he'd be a free man right now.

    Instead, he continued to shoot at the car as it sped away. One gun shot to the lead kid, or several shots grouped at the lead kid, and he walks. (Because again, Black = Credible Threat.) But even in Florida, you can't shoot at a closed car full of teenagers driving away and call them "credible threats," no matter how black they may be.

    So: One hail of bullets = Four separate acts against four separate people. Since he can't claim that three of those people qualify as credible threats, he's guilty of attempted murder. In other words, he was perfectly supported by the law in shooting at Jordan Davis (17 years old–seriously, I cannot say this enough: fuck Florida's laws and legislators), but he got greedy and went after people who couldn't, according to the laws of physics, have posed a threat. So on those counts, boom, guilty. Also: evil.

    Where in the fuck is the judicial review in all of this? Oh, wait, forgot: totally packed to the rafter with Reagan, Bush, and Bush II appointees. Never mind.

  6. Kevin Says:

    "Under Florida law (and fuck Florida's courts for having this law), "

    Actually, you should say Fuck Florida's legislature, and, by extension, Florida's voters. The courts had nothing to do with "Stand Your Ground".

  7. Xynzee Says:

    What Dryden said.

  8. Sarah Says:

    "Under Florida law (and fuck Florida's courts for having this law), "

    Actually, you should say Fuck Florida's legislature, and, by extension, Florida's voters. The courts had nothing to do with "Stand Your Ground".

    As well as the assholes who for so many years were too apathetic to go vote. Seriously, there are a bunch of polling locations that serve minority voters which have just been closed. Because the 47% don't deserve to vote when they're not making enough money, or something.

  9. middle seaman Says:

    Still basking in the glow of not reading or listening to news. What are you talking about? Florida, the state that voted an above the law felon for governor.

  10. Tom Says:

    This was a great read until the 2nd last paragraph's final sentence—you used the "we" pronoun, but I doubt even 1% of your readers (40 alleged) are in accord.

  11. Sarah Says:

    Michael Dunn is claiming that he was the victim in this scenario, that he was "preyed upon" and he fought back.

    http://news.yahoo.com/39-victim-39-says-loud-music-trial-shooter-030932610–abc-news-topstories.html

    (I mean, just in case you aren't already pissed off enough.)

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    SYG is also the most misnamed atrocious law in the books in some states.

    It should be called, "SOG:"
    'Stand OUR Ground' – "our," meaning white folks, of course!

    Btw – my thought on why so many Southern politicians and their voters deny global warming/weirding:
    They're afraid they'll be asked to turn off their air-conditioners in the summer, which will cause an Exodus to the North that makes all of the Jewish people fleeing Egypt, look like gay-pride parade in a Klan town.

  13. Greg Says:

    As someone who unfortunately grew up in FL I am totally confused as to why you all want to have sex with Governor Skeletor and the Gang- I mean have you ever SEEN those creepy fucks? But the whole point of a mistrial is that it's a do-over. The judge has said the trial he ran went so off the rails as to the murder charge that the prosecution gets another chance – while also ruling that the sentences for the other three stand so even if a jury of David Alan Coe fans acquits again, he'll still be serving the time. The Judge agrees with you all in other words about how shitty this verdict is. That almost never happens; the fetishizes toon of jury verdicts is near-onanistic for our criminal "justice" system, so they can always say what Ed did : it's on the jury.
    fun fact: FL was lynching capital of the US in the 20s and 30s.

  14. Greg Says:

    *fetishization

  15. Anonymouse Says:

    White male privilege in Flor-uh-duh; to be so enraged by music played in a car at a convenience store that you open fire, secure in the knowledge you won't be held responsible so long as the victims are non-white.

  16. Anubis Bard Says:

    I guess they figure what the country really needs is a good old fashioned race war. That seems to be the plan.

  17. Well mostly Says:

    With a few delays maybe this fellow will be able to hire GZ as his defense lawyer for the second trial on the murder charge. No doubt Florida has some law school that will accept and graduate GZ in the name of Jesus.
    Now that would be some seriously high irony even for Florida.
    Ed's right: though others might excel in various aspects of crazy, it takes enormous effort to stand on the podium in a dozen different events.
    I'm beginning to think it would be a fair trade to give up some polar caps to put that whole state under water.

  18. Xynzee Says:

    Something that has also died with this silly ass law is the ability to have public decency and civil discourse.

    You know how it is. It's 2am and your neighbour has the radio blaring. So you go next door and politely ask them to turn it down. Oops sorry, will do. Everyone's good. Most people's hearts are still racing as who likes conflict, and you don't know who's on the other side. Not to mention you're a little peaved over this. So you might be a little more forceful than you should. But it usually ends there.

    Well you can forget that. Just knocking on the door is liable to get you shot. Need help? Bang!

    All I can think of is Uncle Jimbo, "It was a (teenaged black kid/middle aged white guy) and he was coming right at me."

    Is this what it's come to, that we are so disconnected that we cannot resolve differences politely? That can no longer assist or ask for assistance? Because I have a gun and know my rights, I no longer have to care how self absorbed and selfish I am.

    The gun, not only takes lives, but the social fabric as well. I guess this the logical conclusion for Thatcher's vision for society.

  19. Major Kong Says:

    What did you expect when we decided to give every walking personality-disorder in the country a concealed carry permit?

  20. burt Says:

    And then there is the case where a black shooter does not get protection from the Stand Your Ground Law: http://thegrio.com/2013/12/04/us-airman-stands-his-ground-in-florida-sentenced-to-25-years/

  21. Jason Says:

    Major Kong:
    I don't know what we expected, but during the time that concealed carry spread across the country, gun crime fell dramatically. All evidence available shows that legal concealed carriers commit crime at lower rates than the general public.

  22. Bosh Says:

    Jason: crime's been falling steadily for over twenty years. If that was even in part due to concealed carry it'd be falling faster in places that have it and slower in places that don't have it. Similarly it would start accelerating in certain areas that passed it after it got passed. Is this the case?

  23. Tim Hosler Says:

    I belive the big problem was they went for first degree murder , but couldn't proove pemeditation.

  24. Tim Hosler Says:

    Sorry , premeditation.and prove .

  25. Lless Says:

    Mr. Hosler: The man ran to his car to get a gun! That's enough time for premeditation. Utter racist nonsense.

  26. Lless Says:

    The non-verdict is appalling, but I don't think the Double Jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment should allow the prosecution to cherry pick an obvious compromise verdict and keep the part it likes. If they retry this because of the hung jury, the attempted murder counts should be retried. That is not the prevailing view at the moment, but I fail to see how he isn't being put in jeopardy twice for the same behavioral incident if the verdict of guilt is left standing.

  27. geoff Says:

    Don't worry, y'all. The whole damn place'll be underwater in less than a hundred years. And I say that as someone who grew up there.

  28. Major Kong Says:

    Other than in combat, I've had guns pointed at me exactly 4 times. On three of those occasions the weapon was definitely loaded (the other I'm not sure about).

    Each time was a so-called "responsible gun owner" mishandling a weapon.

    I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I've seen enough people handle weapons at gun shows and shooting ranges to not trust the vast majority of them to carry in public.

    Your mileage may vary.

  29. Rich Says:

    "For third-world looking urban blight, there's Ohio" You need to explore the Midwest more. Detroit makes Cleveland, heck it even makes Youngstown look like Paris. look like Paris and Michigan has places like Benton Harbor that do this on a small scale.

  30. Major Kong Says:

    Heck you can find blight anywhere if you look hard enough.

    There's always seems to be a falling-down strip mall with a brand new one being built two miles down the road.

  31. Jason Says:

    Bosh-
    I made no assertion nor do I think that concealed carry contributed to the drop in crime. Point being, concealed carry has not led to the rivers of blood that we were assured would follow.

    Here in Ohio, even a high ranking LEO who had campaigned against it admitted later that, "It's been a whole bunch of nothing."

  32. Steve in the ATL Says:

    @Lless: "The non-verdict is appalling, but I don't think the Double Jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment should allow the prosecution to cherry pick an obvious compromise verdict and keep the part it likes. If they retry this because of the hung jury, the attempted murder counts should be retried. That is not the prevailing view at the moment, but I fail to see how he isn't being put in jeopardy twice for the same behavioral incident if the verdict of guilt is left standing."

    Either you listen to too much right-wing radio, or you desperately need to go to law school. This is dumber than a Florida jury.

  33. Patti Says:

    Knowing that Jury Nullification is a thing is why I will never be picked to serve on a jury.

  34. Steve in the ATL Says:

    Patti, that will never come up in voir dire, so you'll have to find another way to get out of jury duty!

  35. Andrew Says:

    @Steve: It doesn't have to come up. If you BRING it up, you'll be excused, and so might the entire jury pool.

  36. Hazy Davy Says:

    I regret to having mentioned "duty to retreat". SYG wasn't a part of this case. Self defense was based on perception of imminent threat.

    So:
    1) The jury could have felt there was an imminent threat from the kid he killed, but not from those he attempted to kill.
    2) Perhaps they failed to convict him of 1st degree murder (requiring premeditation), but did confict him of attempted murder (not requiring premeditation). Nobody's saying he "committed no crime" against the kid he killed. They're saying he's not guilty of the crime he was charged with.

  37. Andrew Says:

    Two things:

    1) It's possible to find a man guilty of three counts of attempted murder, but not guilty of first-degree murder on the fourth charge, if he had no intent or premeditation (even the momentary consideration that enables first-degree in American law). However, because first-degree murder *includes* the charges to second-degree, attempted murder, manslaughter, assault, etc, etc, etc, what would and should have happened is four counts of guilty for attempted murder. That's likely the grounds on which a mistrial was declared.

    2) In regards to "double jeopardy", etc – it's entirely possible for a trial with multiple charges to be deficient in only some areas. That is a matter of law, which the courts are well-equipped to deal with, and if there's any doubt on the matter, the inevitable and numerous appeals and applications that will lead up to the second trial will ensure that the courts are fair in this regard.

  38. rens Says:

    "Other than in combat, I've had guns pointed at me exactly 4 times. On three of those occasions the weapon was definitely loaded (the other I'm not sure about).

    Each time was a so-called "responsible gun owner" mishandling a weapon."

    Maybe you need to work on your road skills- for instance, don't tailgate and/or cut off other drivers. Despite all those irresponsible gun owners out there, most of us have had guns pointed at us exactly 0 times.

  39. mothra Says:

    Lless: Let me 'splain something reeeeeellllly slowly: Dunn. Was. Convicted. of Attempted. Murder. Counts. So there can only be a retrial if he is successful in an appeal and the court orders a new trial. But the first degree murder count was SEPARATE, meaning that he can be re-tried on that charge.

    Not unusual at all for juries to find someone guilty of some counts and not others, by the way. While it seems to defy logic, as someone pointed out, the first degree murder charge needed the element of premeditation. Prosecution apparently didn't do its job in convincing all jurors of that premeditation–and one juror apparently had some reasonable doubt about whether the kid had threatened Dunn or not–or maybe it was just a bad juror who thinks black kids deserve to get dead. Doesn't matter at this point: prosecutors get another swipe at that charge without the added mess of the others, so they may yet get their conviction. Dunn IS going to jail for a while, at least–until he files his appeal and is able to persuade a judge to let him free while awaiting appeal–which will likely happen because Dunn is white.

    None of which to say that Florida's SYG law isn't fucked, by the way. I have heard Florida described as the "Grease Trap" for the United States. Hard to argue with that.

  40. Jon Says:

    It's pretty clear to everyone by now that hunting humans in Florida is legal.

  41. Barry Says:

    J. Dryden: "Instead, he continued to shoot at the car as it sped away. One gun shot to the lead kid, or several shots grouped at the lead kid, and he walks. (Because again, Black = Credible Threat.) But even in Florida, you can't shoot at a closed car full of teenagers driving away and call them "credible threats," no matter how black they may be."

    Yet. I wouldn't bet money against it on the next case.

  42. Barry Says:

    burt Says:
    February 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am

    "And then there is the case where a black shooter does not get protection from the Stand Your Ground Law: http://thegrio.com/2013/12/04/us-airman-stands-his-ground-in-florida-sentenced-to-25-years/"

    At this point 'Stand Your Ground' is 21st century lynch law, pure and simple.

  43. Barry Says:

    Jon Says:
    February 18th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    "It's pretty clear to everyone by now that hunting humans in Florida is legal."

    Some humans, and we all know who those are.

  44. purpleplatypus Says:

    "For corruption, there's Illinois."

    And Louisiana, surely?

  45. Steve in the ATL Says:

    "@Steve: It doesn't have to come up. If you BRING it up, you'll be excused, and so might the entire jury pool."

    @Andrew: Concur; that would definitely wipe out the entire jury pool, and piss off the judge big time. You would have to hope his wife or mistress had put out for him that morning or you could be in big trouble.

  46. Nate Says:

    Both twitter feeds, Florida_Man and _FloridaWoman are some of the most hilariously depressing AP news dispatches from Florida.

  47. Sarah Says:

    Jon Says:
    February 18th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    "It's pretty clear to everyone by now that hunting humans in Florida is legal."

    Some humans, and we all know who those are.

    I am reminded of "The Most Dangerous Game," but much less genteel.

  48. John Danley Says:

    Florida manatees have been confused for mermaids by Spanish explorers. Mermaids are often said to be akin to the Sirens. The Sirens would be considered a direct threat to most male Floridians. This explains the gradual extinction of manatees.

    Florida: The Gunshine State

  49. Anonymouse Says:

    Courtesy of Raw Story:

    A new study has found that around 60 more people have been murdered each year since the state of Missouri made it easier to buy a handguns without going through a background check.

    In the study which will be published in an issue of the Journal of Urban Health, a team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Director Daniel Webster found that between 55 to 63 more people were murdered each year after Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law in 2007.

    “This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence,” Webster said in a press release. “There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.”

    After the law was repealed, unlicensed sellers were no longer required to perform background checks before selling their guns.

    While murders in Missouri spiked between 2007 and 2012, bordering states experienced no significant increases. And the overall murder rate in the U.S. declined by 5 percent during that same period.

  50. E* Says:

    Let's take this to its logical conclusion:

    1. Some middle-aged white men murder black teenagers for no reason (and get away with it).
    2. Black teenagers begin to perceive all middle-aged white men as dangerous.
    3. Black teenagers can now hunt middle-aged white men because they are a perceived threat.

    Oh, sorry. I said logical conclusion. As Barry points out, this is a lynch law, so no logic need apply.

  51. Khaled Says:

    I was reading a facebook argument between a few people, and two of them were full believers in full, unfettered "right to bear arms" (although someone LOL called it "bare arms" LOLOLOLOL) up to and including military grade weapons because 2d amendment makes it okay because freedom. This mentality that guns solve problems and allows citizens to "repel tyranny" is the reason we get shootings like this in Florida. In Ohio it is legal to openly carry a firearm, but illegal to have a loaded weapon in your car- call it the "drive by law". But I guarantee most people who have CC permits carry their weapon loaded in their car. And so we have road rage shootings, loud music shootings, etc. The idea that everyone having a gun makes someplace safe is silly. Ever been to a bad neighborhood? Everyone there has guns- and so does that make it safe? I'm sure the gun ownership (legal or otherwise) ratio is much higher in West Philly than in the Mainline suburbs, but guess which one is safer?

  52. Fred Says:

    On reading the post I think I finally understood the logic.
    The young man was killed while the car was not in motion and the argument was taking place, presenting a possibility of posing a threat . The shots that constituted attempted murder were fired as the car was driving away. And it was three charges because the fourth was already dead (was he?) so he could not be murdered at that point.
    I'm not saying I agree with it but I think that is the logic. And let us not forget that it may only be one A-hole who believes that the shooter had not been proven (that's the standard here) to be acting outside of his legal obligation. SYG puts a big burden on juries I don't envy people who need to grapple with this mine field of injustice.

  53. Jason Says:

    Khaled:
    You can transport a loaded gun in Ohio. It has to be in a holster on your hip (which means you have a CCW) or locked in a visible box or the glove compartment.

    And please tell me about all these road rage incidents involving CCWs in Ohio.

  54. Whatver Says:

    Dunn in a 2012 phone interview: "I'm the victim. I'm the victor, but I'm the victim too".

    Victor Victim, like a whole new gender.

  55. Skipper Says:

    I'm going to take issue with the "most of Boston" crack, even though I know it was tossed in to keep Mississippi defenders happy. There are racists in Boston — as there are everywhere — but "most of Boston" these days is made up of college students and an awful lot of multi-racial, multi-cultural people of all backgrounds. Even in the ugly days of Boston's anti-busing riots, most of the problem came from one uni-cultural enclave that was not at all representative of the city as a whole.

  56. carversvillan Says:

    Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    ~FROST,DAMON/PHIRI,AARON;
    Strange Fruit lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

  57. Patrck Says:

    Conviction for bad aim?

    Or Occam's razor: the people of Florida are retarded.

  58. Jebediah Says:

    "But no state in this union can match Florida's ability to be close to the worst in every one of these categories simultaneously."

    Florida – champion of the Shitheap Decathlon!

  59. Neal Deesit Says:

    "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."

    This is an inacurate and misleading characterization of Florida's (and other jurisdictions') law of self-defense.

    Look at the actual language of Florida law regarding the justifiable use of force, which is contained in Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes

    Section 776., Use of force in defense of person, delineates two different standards: one for using non-deadly force; and a second for deadly force.

    A person is justified in using non-deadly force "when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force."

    A person is justified in the use of deadly force if he or she "reasonably believesthat such force is necessary (a) to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or (b) to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony."

    Note, in both instances the standard is not that the person using force "felt threatened," but that the person using force had a specific belief, and that the belief was reasonable.

    You and all the commenters here decrying the particularly depraved condition of Florida's law of self-defense should realize that it is bog-standard. Though the exact language differs among jurisdictions, Florida's is, in this respect, not essentially different than the law of self-defense in all the other states and in Federal law.

    A legal standard of "reasonableness" appears not only in self-defense law, but throughout American jurisprudence.

    As someone who invokes the logic of the law, you would do well to note the distinction between (a) not being found guilty of murder, and (b) being found not guilty of murder. As others have pointed out, Michael Dunn was not, as you asserted "found not guilty of murder." Regarding the homicide of Jordan Davis, because of the mistrial on that count, NOTHING, neither guilt nor innocence, has been adjudicated.

  60. Paul Says:

    "Florida described as the "Grease Trap" for the United States"

    I 2nd this.

  61. Sarah Says:

    There were two jurors who believed Michael Dunn was fully justified in shooting Jordan Davis. One other juror wanted to convict on less than first degree murder.

    http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/local/michael-dunn-trial/2014/02/19/michael-dunn-juror-wanted-murder-conviction/5601199/

    Jesus Christ.

  62. Hazy Davy Says:

    From an unlikely source (Zimmerman's defense attorney), an explanation.