The verdict is in for the trial of Michael Dunn, a white man charged with killing African American Jordan Davis, one of a number of people in a vehicle playing “loud music”. He was found guilty on four of the five charges, including three second-degree attempted murder charges. However, a mistrial was declared on the most serious first-degree murder charge, as the jury was deadlocked. The prosecution will likely seek a new trial on that charge.
Michael Dunn has claimed he felt in danger. He raises the same old stereotype that somehow a young Black male is intimidating, dangerous, and a thug. Dr. Boyce Watkins of Your Black World claims the incident happened because Mr. Dunn is a hothead and capable of violence, and something set him off. Dr. Watkins talks about this at http://www.yourblackworld.net/2014/02/black-news/dr-boyce-video-if-michael-dunn-were-a-black-man-hes-be-in-prison-right-now/ (this was recorded before the verdict was reached).
After the verdict was reached, the predictable posts started appearing on social media, some denigrating the criminal justice system. I want to talk about a part of the criminal justice system in which I have experience – serving on a jury. I reject any posts that are negative towards the jury. Which of my readers have served on a jury? I have served many times, and I was the Foreman one time. I understand the anguish and confusion the jurors must have gone through. The Dunn jury was composed of four white women, two black women, four white men, one Asian woman, and one Hispanic man. The jury may not get to see the entire trial – sometimes the jury is excused for some reason. The jury is unaware of what goes on during those times. Opening and closing statements do not constitute evidence and cannot be considered. Once deliberations start, the jury cannot interpret the law by themselves; the jury must deliberate according to the law as directed by the Judge and must ask questions if anything is unclear. The Judge directs the jury on what testimony may be considered.
So, maybe the prosecution’s case was faulty; maybe the defendant’s layers instilled reasonable doubt. I do not know.
What I do know and feel very strongly about is that those “Stand Your Ground” laws must be eliminated. It is my hope that society can get past those negative stereotypes about Black males. In my opinion, the former is probably more likely than the latter.
Readers, what do you think?