Author Topic: Trayvon Martin's background  (Read 6196 times)

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Offline unitron

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Trayvon Martin's background
« on: September 11, 2012, 11:16:17 PM »
Redbrow, in a different thread, said

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It seems that the defense is intent on exploring all possible sources of information about Trayvon Martin's background that might be relevant to the case.

and I am curious as to just what about his background would or would not be relevant to the case, and why or why not.

Anyone care to venture a properly and carefully worded opinion or guess?

Offline Kyreth

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2012, 12:23:45 AM »
W8 for instance says that Trayvon is not one who would pick a fight.  It seems it would be fair to explore avenues to rebut that.

Offline TalkLeft

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 02:12:31 AM »
In a nutshell,  Florida permits a defendant in a criminal case to introduce evidence of a victim's reputation for violence, providing there is a showing of self defense on the part of the defendant. One purpose is to show that the victim was the first aggressor. When a defendant offers  the evidence for this purpose, it is unnecessary for him to show that he had prior knowledge of the victim's propensities.  This is because  because the evidence is offered to show the conduct of the victim, rather than the defendant's state of mind.

There are still other factors that the court would weigh in deciding if its admissible: Things like when was it, how similar was it to what is claimed in this case, and does the prejudicial nature of the evidence  outweigh its probative value.

Until specific evidence is disclosed by one side or the other, it is not appropriate to speculate here or bring up contents of social media accounts and rumors. Those are just character attacks.

Suffice it to say the requests the defense is making are not witch hunts or fishing expeditions. If the state , for example, wants to introduce evidence of Trayvon's good character, the defense has the right to challenge it with evidence it discovers. If it waits until trial, it will be too late. The defense has to anticipate such action by the state and be prepared to meet it.

The Florida Evidence Manual:  Section 90.404(1)(b) allows evidence of a pertinent trait of character of the victim of a crime to be offered by an accused; or by the prosecution to rebut the trait; or evidence of a character trait of peacefulness of the victim offered by the prosecution in a homicide case to rebut evidence that the victim was the aggressor.

Trayvon isn't the only person whose character will be subjected to scrutiny by the defense. I would expect Dee Dee to be as well. The state has said she's a critical witness. The defense is entitled to impeach her credibility, even if its just to show her bias. 

Murray v. State, 838 So. 2d 1073, 2002 Fla. LEXIS 1942 (Fla. 2002).

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Denying a defendant the opportunity to present evidence that a witness is biased not only violates Fla. Stat. § 90.608(2), it also implicates a defendant's constitutional right to cross-examination which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Fla. Const. art. I, § 16; inherent within this right is a defendant's right to expose a witness's motivation in testifying because it is the principal means by which the believability of a witness and the truth of his testimony are tested.

The state can object to the issuance of the defense subpoenas but I don't think it will prevail. If the evidence is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and is relevant to the issues in the case, they probably will be granted.

Offline RickyJim

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2012, 07:06:47 AM »
Suffice it to say the requests the defense is making are not witch hunts or fishing expeditions. If the state , for example, wants to introduce evidence of Trayvon's good character, the defense has the right to challenge it with evidence it discovers. If it waits until trial, it will be too late. The defense has to anticipate such action by the state and be prepared to meet it.

Can the state introduce "evidence of Trayvon's good character" without having it part of pre-trial discovery?  I assume such evidence will come from actual witnesses (teachers, coaches, ministers, employers, friends, etc.) non of whom have been announced up to now.

Offline jupchurch

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 10:52:32 AM »
Can the state introduce "evidence of Trayvon's good character" without having it part of pre-trial discovery?  I assume such evidence will come from actual witnesses (teachers, coaches, ministers, employers, friends, etc.) non of whom have been announced up to now.

Keep in mind that we still haven't seen all the discovery evidence and I don't know when the deadline for collecting evidence occurs.  Obviously the defense is looking for a history of violence.  We know that Trayvon Martin has no arrest record, but I remember a lot of fights at my high school and I don't recall any of them resulting in the police being called.

Offline FromBelow

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 01:20:49 PM »
Keep in mind that we still haven't seen all the discovery evidence and I don't know when the deadline for collecting evidence occurs.  Obviously the defense is looking for a history of violence.  We know that Trayvon Martin has no arrest record, but I remember a lot of fights at my high school and I don't recall any of them resulting in the police being called.

In an interview last month O'Mara said he'd seen about 80-90% of the State's discovery. I think almost all of that has been released to the public. So far I don't see anything in it that says Zimmerman is guilty of anything. With that in mind, we've seen virtually nothing of the defense's discovery (they don't have it yet). Almost all of it is certainly going to support Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

It's hard to imagine the State getting out of this hole unless they are holding back a smoking gun.

Offline TalkLeft

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 06:48:42 PM »
Thread cleaned. There will be no discussion of alleged smisconduct by TM that have not been disclosed in discovery or sought to be introduced by the parties. Please take those discussions elsewhere.  This thread is not a license to discuss rumors and media reports, but the legal issues surrounding the admissibility of character evidence.

Offline annoyedbeyond

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2012, 10:31:38 AM »
Thread cleaned. There will be no discussion of alleged smisconduct by TM that have not been disclosed in discovery or sought to be introduced by the parties. Please take those discussions elsewhere.  This thread is not a license to discuss rumors and media reports, but the legal issues surrounding the admissibility of character evidence.

Wouldn't some of what was cleaned be covered by that though? Took place in school, part of school records which are part of discovery?

I know, it's a fine line between the character assassination and discussion.

Offline AghastInFL

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 10:38:03 AM »
Wouldn't some of what was cleaned be covered by that though? Took place in school, part of school records which are part of discovery?

I know, it's a fine line between the character assassination and discussion.
Good question it does seem subjective (which is fine) for instance I offered a direct quote from a discovery document with no embellishment and/or commentary.

Offline AJ

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2012, 05:58:00 AM »
Wouldn't some of what was cleaned be covered by that though? Took place in school, part of school records which are part of discovery?

I know, it's a fine line between the character assassination and discussion.


Quote from: gzlegalcase
It has become our practice to post to our website legal documents related the case as they become public record, and this will continue to be the case with our discovery requests. Moreover, any discovery we submit that becomes public record will also be posted on our website. In the case of Trayvon Martin’s school records, they are protected and will NOT be part of the public record, without appropriate court order.

That's on their post saying they've submitted subpoenas, it doesn't say they've offered it in discovery. http://www.flcourts18.org/presspublic.html doesn't show any recipricoil discovery yet. Even if it did show that Mr. O'Mara's office passed school records along to the State, based on that last sentence (underlined, obviously) we'll never know what was stated in those documents - at least, not until the immunity hearing/trial and then we'd only get bits and pieces of it. I think what Jeralyn is saying is that without a document that has been released from the State's media website or Mr. O'Mara's website it is speculation and she doesn't want that here. Just my guess on her intentions of course, if I'm wrong I anticipate her punching me in the stomach and a bodyslam through a table.

Offline unitron

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 06:37:30 AM »
I wasn't looking for speculation on what is or isn't there in his background, but on for what they would or would not be looking.

There actually is a difference.

Offline RickyJim

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 07:01:53 AM »
To ask again what has remained unanswered here, Can the defense introduce the school records in court if the state doesn't first raise the issue by having (good) character witnesses for Trayvon Martin?  And how long does the state have before its window, for deposing and releasing to the defense the affidavit's of such witnesses, closes?

Offline leftwig

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 07:55:55 AM »
To ask again what has remained unanswered here, Can the defense introduce the school records in court if the state doesn't first raise the issue by having (good) character witnesses for Trayvon Martin?  And how long does the state have before its window, for deposing and releasing to the defense the affidavit's of such witnesses, closes?

I think Jeralyn's post above answers your question.

"In a nutshell,  Florida permits a defendant in a criminal case to introduce evidence of a victim's reputation for violence, providing there is a showing of self defense on the part of the defendant. "

If the school records show TM getting in fights or swinging on a bus driver, they can be introduced regardless of the prosecution talking about his character.  If they simply show a kid that got into some trouble and had bad grades, they couldn't be introduced unless its to rebut direct testimony.  Either way, the defense is wise to seek the information.

Offline RickyJim

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 01:21:01 PM »
I think Jeralyn's post above answers your question.

"In a nutshell,  Florida permits a defendant in a criminal case to introduce evidence of a victim's reputation for violence, providing there is a showing of self defense on the part of the defendant. "

If the school records show TM getting in fights or swinging on a bus driver, they can be introduced regardless of the prosecution talking about his character.  If they simply show a kid that got into some trouble and had bad grades, they couldn't be introduced unless its to rebut direct testimony.  Either way, the defense is wise to seek the information.

That doesn't answer the question of how far the defense can go to fish for such evidence.  Jeralyn mentioned that certainly they could supboena them to rebut good character witnesses offered by the prosecution.  It is not clear if they can can subpoena the records if the state doesn't plan to offer such witnesses.  I think there has to be a reasonable expectation of finding something rather than just fishing.

Offline TalkLeft

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Re: Trayvon Martin's background
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 02:51:11 PM »
Ricky, your question didn't ask how far they could fish but what they could introduce.
Both have been answered. You want specifics, you will have to get them elsewhere.

The answer to the general question is in the case law, statutes and discovery rules.

As of now, whatever is in his school records has not been released to the public and isn't subject to discussion here. Nor are the contents of his social media accounts.

 

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