Unlike the 33 law students who I previously wrote about, I imagine the greatest challenge of attending law school being learning how to translate seemingly pedantic words into judicial significance. To that end, while the attempted murder conviction in the Michael Dunn trial for the three boys who managed to live makes sense, it doesn’t make sense, to me, that there could be a mistrial regarding the actual fact that Jordan Davis is dead from the bullets Dunn fired. It’s not clear to me how a man who claims he initiated a confrontation over the volume of the “thug music” that Jordan Davis and his friends were listening too, who believes the teens reached for a gun, and then in response claims to have then reached into his glove compartment and fired ten times before the armed teens fired a single shot, isn’t found guilty of deliberately and willfully killing someone.
Poor use of language underscores one of my many frustrations regarding both the George Zimmerman trial and the Michael Dunn trial. According to Juror B-37 in the Zimmerman case, Trayvon Martin “played a huge role in his death.” Continuing with this foolishness, Juror B-37 tells Anderson Cooper:
“He could have…When George confronted him, and he could have walked away and gone home. He didn’t have to come back and do whatever he did and come back and fight.”
It never occurs to this woman that “George” was not entitled to confront Martin or that Trayvon Martin would have just “walked away and gone home” if “George” had not prevented him from doing so. Neither does she consider that the story of Martin “[coming] back and [doing] whatever he did” is Zimmerman’s account of how he murdered Trayvon Martin. This woman merely assumes Zimmerman’s credibility rather than requiring that he earn it. Juror B-37 is so inarticulate that one has to understand how systems of domination inform her remarks for them to be intelligible. For example, every individual plays a “huge” role in their death; without you first having life, you cannot meet your own death–you have to live to die. Martin left his home to purchase snacks, he didn’t plan to get himself killed by a stranger. He wanted to go home and was in fact heading there until George Zimmerman lethally ended his trip. The scenario Juror B-37 constructs only makes sense if black people are always responsible for what white people think of them; that black people should feel compelled to account for their whereabouts to any white person at anytime and in anyplace; that black people cannot feel threatened, and if they do, they can’t defend themselves.
Now, according to Juror B-37’s logic, Michael Dunn “could have [driven] away and gone home.” Dunn didn’t live next door to those teenagers, they were all in cars so why couldn’t he have just driven away? So in this scenario, Juror B-37 is on to something, but in this case, Dunn driving away and moving beyond the situation seems meaningless. Moreover, just like Juror B-37, the Assistant State Attorney, John Guy, assumes that what the perpetrator alleges, accurately and honestly conveys what Davis said or didn’t say. Thus, Guy’s claim that Jordan Davis “didn’t have a weapon, he had a big mouth” ignores the fact that the defendant, Dunn, might just lack credibility. It’s not clear to me that Davis “had a big mouth.” What exactly makes Michael Dunn credible? This is a man who felt entitled to tell strangers in another vehicle how loud they were allowed to play music that he dislikes, who wounded three teenagers and killed one, and who then goes to a hotel with his girlfriend and orders pizza?!
With the verdict, both the State Attorney, Angela Corey, and Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, plan to fight the verdict. We can only pray that they plan on leaving their guns at home.