Zimmerman Defense Receives Trayvon Martin's School Records
George Zimmerman's legal team has received the school records of Trayvon Martin. The court authorized the subpoena in October. The state didn't object to the subpoena per se, but it wanted them submitted to the court under seal for in camera review before being released to the defense, instead of having the records delivered directly to the defense team. The Court denied that request. The Martin family, through its lawyers, objected to the subpoena.
It issued this press release today about the records, which will not be made public.
The argument the state made in Paragraph 10 of its motion, like the Martin family's argument, was incorrect, as Zimmerman's team writes today and I wrote in my earlier posts.
In cases raising self-defense, it is not necessary for the accused to have previously known the victim in order to introduce evidence about the victim for the purpose of showing he was the aggressor. This is because the issue does not go to state of mind (whether GZ was reasonably in fear) but to the victim's actions and whether he was the aggressor.
The court said in Munoz:
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 Court said in Dwyer:
Generally, evidence of a victim's character is inadmissible, but 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. Smith v. State, 606 So. 2d 641 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992); see also Ehrhardt, Florida Evidence § 404.6 (1999 ed.); Graham, Handbook of Florida Evidence § 404.1 (1987).
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. Ehrhardt. Accordingly, evidence of one of the victim's reputation for violence was not prohibited by Dwyer's lack of prior knowledge of that victim's character traits.
All this being said, it is far from clear whether any of these school records will be admissible at trial or whether the defense will even seek to introduce any of them. They were provided as part of the discovery process, because the records could potentially lead to relevant and admissible evidence.
The Zimmerman team today said it will not try to demonize Trayvon Martin.
As we approach a Self-Defense Immunity Hearing and/or a jury trial, there will be necessary scrutiny of Trayvon Martin. As it is true for any person who undergoes such scrutiny, facts may come out that could be seen to show him in a less than favorable light. We do, for instance, have an interest in presenting Trayvon Martin accurately as he appeared on the night of February 26, 2012, and that will include challenging the several-years-old photo of Trayvon Martin as a boy wearing a red shirt -- the photo that has become the popular representation of him in the minds of the public at large.
Please keep in mind our specific commenting rules on the Zimmerman case. Especially these:
- The posts on this case are about the facts of the case, the investigation, the applicable law, the legal proceedings, and the media coverage (including bias and errors in reporting.) They are not about the broader subjects of race, gun laws and politics, and unless specifically referred to in the post, comments about those broader topics will generally be deemed off-topic and deleted.
- No character attacks on either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman (which means no discussion of the contents of their Twitter, FB or My Space pages);
- No declarations Zimmerman is guilty. You may state your opinion, provided you state it as your opinion and not as fact.
And please stay on topic, which is Trayvon Martin's school records and Zimmerman's assertion Martin was the aggressor.
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