Judge Will Issue Subpoenas for Trayvon Martin's School Records and Social Media Accounts
The new judge in the George Zimmerman case agreed to issue defense subpoenas for Trayvon Martin's school records and social media account records, as well as the social media accounts of witness #8 "Dee Dee", the phone friend of Trayvon, who says she was on the phone with him just before the shooting. You can watch the Judge explain her ruling here.
As I wrote here and here, I think this is the correct ruling. A defendant raising self-defense may introduce evidence regarding a victim's reputation for a particular character trait like violence to show that the defendant was not the initial aggressor, even if the defendant did not previously know about the victim's reputation. Here's the Munoz case the Judge cites from, which quotes the Dwyer case.
The school records will not be released publicly. The judge also granted the state's request for Zimmerman's medical records, but like the school records, they will not be released publicly. [More]
From the Munoz case:
The purpose of introducing the reputation evidence in a self-defense case is to show that the victim was the initial aggressor. Pino, 389 So.2d at 1194. Reputation evidence is offered to show that the victim acted in conformity with a known character trait. Because reputation evidence relates to the conduct of the victim, the defendant is not required to have had prior knowledge of the victim's reputation in the community. See Dwyer v. State, 743 So.2d 46, 48 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999) (holding that "a defendant who alleges self-defense can show, through the testimony of another witness, that the alleged victim had a propensity for violence, thereby inferring that the alleged victim was the aggressor. A defendant's prior knowledge of the victim's reputation for violence is irrelevant, because the evidence is offered to show the conduct of the victim, rather than the defendant's state of mind.")
The judge is not saying the records are relevant or admissible at trial. Her ruling is in response to a discovery request, and the issue is whether the records could lead to relevant and admissible evidence.
Also, keep in mind the subpoenas for the social media accounts are unlikely to result in the content in the accounts being turned over, as opposed to merely subscriber information. There are a host of hurdles the defense will have to jump over before getting content from the accounts, even assuming Twitter and Facebook still have it.
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