Jordan Davis’ Family Lawyer Speaks Out on Stand Your Ground, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis

Attorney Phillips, thank you for a most informative and historical piece. I’m re-blogging to spread the word. It needs to be known and understood. Those of us advocating for change and/or appeal in Stand Your Ground laws need to understand this based on what you have written. My prayers to Jordan’s parents, and thanks to you for your good work and compassion.

Courts & Sports

My name is John Phillips. I have the honor to serve as the lawyer for the family of Jordan Davis, a teen killed by a grown man who took offense to his music, his skin color and his choice of words. Like too many others these days, Michael Dunn was empowered by the Stand Your Ground law. He fired 10 times, never called police and found comfort in believing he was on the right side of the tipped scales of justice for legal gun owners in this country.

Like my father, I am a lifelong Republican. He was from Monroeville, Alabama and my mother was from Mississippi. Like my father, I own guns. I grew up in the conservative south, even attending the University of Alabama. I worked for a stalwart member of the GOP, Representative “Sonny” Callahan while in college. I am one of the over one million concealed…

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Posted on 02/20/2014, in Jordan Davis and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Well written, factual and carries the sentiment of most of us. These laws must be abolished. Does the NRA and it’s brainwashed racist minions think everyone should be armed.

    Watch how fast they start a movement of some silly sort if a black person was in Duhhhnnn’s position.

    The same holds true if there was a legitimate incident where a white thug attacks a black person and legally shoots him…….I shudder to think of what that will bring down if a legal CCW holder is black and kills a white thug and claims SYG….even with video.

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    • Does the NRA and it’s brainwashed racist minions think everyone should be armed.

      NRA history is that it’s first policy was that only White men could own guns.

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      • towerflower

        http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112322/gun-control-racism-and-nra-history

        Actually it was the early forms of the KKK that did that but the NRA’s first involvement with a racist background was in the 1920’s and was aimed at immigrants–specifically Italians. And then in the 1960’s which was aimed at Black militants and led to the Gun Control Act of 1968. The founding members were all from the North and it’s first president was also a Union General, none of which were KKK members.

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        • towerflower,
          There are a few varying reports on how the NRA was started. The question is why was it started? Certainly, no one was infringing on 2nd Amendment rights. Or were they? That is research, (at least for me), for another time. What I would like to know is why would the NRA draft stand your ground law? What was the basis for extending the Castle Doctrine and why did they begin in the State of Florida?

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          • Xena, The NRA was started after one of the founders, General George Wood Wingate (Union) noticed from records that for each 1000 rounds fired during the Civil War only 1 person was hit. It started as a Marksmanship Program to improve the shooting of individuals. They found that only one out of 10 soldiers actually knew how to use the sights on their rifles. They studied the marksmanship programs of several European countries and developed a program here with the first shooting range in Long Island. It has evolved to what it is today.

            Before the law went into effect the going “joke” with the Castle Doctrine was if you shot someone trying to get into your home, you better make sure that they fall inside the home and not outside. You were expected to remove yourself first. They expanded it to that if a person had a right to be somewhere, like in your own car or out for a walk, and you encountered a situation in which you were going to be robbed or attacked, you no longer had the obligation to flee first that you could stand your ground and defend yourself. We have all said that TM had the right to defend himself from the unknown person following him and that he had a right to defend himself. Without that law TM would have been expected to continue to run away and if he had encountered him, he would have been in the wrong for not trying to flee.

            The earliest form of the law I could find was in 1877 Indiana ( In 1877 Indiana, a court stated in Runyon v. State: “The tendency of the American mind seems to be very strongly against the enforcement of any rule which requires a person to flee when assailed, to avoid chastisement or even to save a human life . . . [Therefore,] [t]he weight of modern authority . . establishes the doctrine that when a person, being without fault and in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel force by force, and if, in reasonable exercise of his right of self-defense, his assailant is killed, he is justifiable.”), but that was a local district law and Florida was the first one for a statewide law.

            Marion Hammer was a NRA lobbyist who was the driving force behind the law. She was also the first female president of the NRA. She was also the driving force behind Florida’s Concealed Weapons license. She never commented on the Z case but recounted a time when she was threatened by a carload of men and that by pulling a gun out they fled and she feels that is what saved her life. She is now 73 and is a 4’11” grandmother. I don’t know why Florida was the first state but more than 20 states quickly followed.

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          • There is another program call the Appleseed Project. They also focus on marksmanship and the history behind it, specifically April 19, 1775 the battle of Lexington/Concrod and the start of the revolutionary war. This group does not teach laws, just history and marksmanship, how the marksmanship abilities of the colonists were able to force the greatest army in the world back to Boston. 100 years later the need for marksmanship resulted in the start of the NRA.

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  2. This quotation from Attorney Phillip’s article is VERY important:

    And, with Stand Your Ground, the Second Amendment plays favorites when it comes to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    It does not simply stop intruders from invading your space as the name conveys, it allows a biased population, a person with unreasonable fears based on skin color and others to “shoot first” provided they can tell the police they had the requisite fear and walk (a)way, stepping over the body of his or her victim who cannot defend himself or herself ever again.

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    • Yahtzee,
      Remember the phrase about fair fights? No sticks, knives, brass-knuckles unless the opponent has the same. Then there were also the duels where both parties had guns, walked apart from each other a certain amount of paces, turned and fired at each other. Those days are long gone.

      With Stand Your Ground, it means that people who are armed with a deadly weapon can take a life without there being any consideration for a fair fight. All they need to do is say they were afraid and to support that, that they thought their life was in jeopardy from popcorn, loud music, asking why they are following someone.

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      • Two sides to a story

        Absolutely. We need to go back to the kinder, gentler self-defense laws in which you couldn’t apply any more force than is used against you. And there should be an obligation to retreat too. Self-defense as it stood before SYG worked just fine, except that we could also have far more restrictions on handguns, etc. Truly, most people just don’t need to be walking around carrying handguns. It’s absurd.

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  3. Another VERY important quotation from Attorney Phillip’s article:

    It is un-American to look at excused or justifiable homicide or “Stand Your Ground” laws without looking at the institution of a jury system to balance out “right and wrong.” The laws we have now take power AWAY from the jury and have become so confusing that they entirely CONFUSE the jury, making them weak.

    Even the drafters of the most zealous opinions on one’s Right to Stand One’s Ground would be upset because we’ve gone from letting a jury sort things out to letting a killer’s words let him be excused and justified without even one unbiased peer weighing the actual facts- not just from the “state of mind” of the killer now that he faces a life sentence.

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  4. Attorney Phillips ends his message with:

    I humbly beg you to hasten the winds and create a tsunami. Pandora’s box of guns and crime, hate and bigotry is wide open in our Great nation.

    Only the combined winds of love and understanding, passion and hope can close it. Thank you for your time and God Bless the United States of America.

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  5. Lawrence O’Donnel interviews Jordan’s parents, attorney Phillips, and discusses the juror’s interview regarding the verdict.

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  6. In a previous thread renxkyoko wrote: “How could anyone, let alone 2 , jurors [have] thought it was justified. It’s beyond comprehension.”

    Exectly. To get to this verdict you have to go South two miles beyond Comprehension, turn right, pass through Incredulity, take the Theater of the Absurd Memorial Highway, go past Outrage, follow the highway as it takes two more rights turns — at Slough of Despond and Vomitville, respectively — then take one more right onto the Orwell Expressway, go another 17 miles South…

    … and then you’re in Florida!

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  7. kindheart101

    The silence broke, the trumpets sound,
    and once again, all gathered round.
    Trayvon was there, on bended knee,
    to honor each holy decree.

    Please bow your head, for on this day,
    another soul is on their way!
    Don’t shed a tear, just feel delight,
    now angels GO……and take to flight!

    Go welcome him, and bring him home,
    where he will never be alone.
    He’ll live here in my loving grace,
    where there is no such thing as race.

    Yet Trayvon’s brought to gentle tears,
    because it’s been almost two years.
    Since he was brought to heavens gate,
    because of someone filled with hate.

    And once again the trumpets blast,
    the angels sing….”He’s here, at last!”
    My name is Jordan….where am I?
    and why was it, I had to die?

    Trayvon moved close, and said: “I Know”
    I asked all that, two years ago.
    I have a feeling we will be,
    best friends for all eternity…………welcome Jordan……….

    God Bless Trayvon and Jordan. RIP

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    • kindheart101.
      Thanks so much for blessing us with your talent.

      You know, I feel that is exactly what happened in heaven when Jordan arrived.

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      • kindheart101

        Dear Xena,

        You know I only write what I feel. It is close to two years since Trayvon was taken away from all of us. Yes, us. His family and friends suffered his loss, but all of were also affected. And now Jordan…….Just so much stupid racist hate.

        I actually had someone contact me on HP and ask me if I would sell the rights to the poem I wrote about Trayvons birth? I said…..you’re kidding right? They said no, if I didn’t agree, they couldn’t use it.

        Who in the hell would want to use a poem, or anything, concerning the murder of a teen for profit? (Other than Zimmerman)

        I feel in my heart Trayvon was there to meet Jordan.

        It’s late. Goodnight dear friend.

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    • Kindheart,

      You have been blessed to be a blessing.

      Thank you for sharing your moving poem.

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      • kindheart101

        Yahtzee,

        I want to personally thank you for all of the information you add to this site. Between you and Xena, I can read and learn for weeks at a time. 🙂

        Take care friend

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  8. /large

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    • As I said before, the movement for Self-Defense reform would get a lot more traction if it was framed with a cross-racial appeal. It would behoove the Martin and Davis families and their attorneys to go through the SYG cases and find a couple White victims of White killers who got off on grounds as thin as Dunn and Zimmerman, and publicize the hell out of those cases, so they could put a couple White faces on a poster like this along with Trayvon, Jordan and Marissa.

      Oddly, I think that most civil rights activists give too much credit to White people. Over and over they point out, quite correctly, how legislatures and courts discriminate against African-Americans. But how is this supposed to effect change in jurisdictions where Whites are still in the majority? It’s as if they expect White people to take political action just because “it’s the right thing to do!” Don’t hold your breath on that. Racial prejudices are only a small part of this. Most people are self-oriented, and not tuned into the conditions of society as a whole. We heard this from almost all the potential jurors questioned in voir dire at the Zimmerman trial. “I don’t watch the news, because it’s all negative. “I haven’t paid attention to this case, because I spend my time focusing on my job and my family.” That is to say, most people frame their world of interest very close to home. They don’t get involved in political issues until something penetrates into that private sphere: say THEIR water supply gets polluted from the toxic run-off Duke Energy dumped in North Carolina and the governor-in-Duke’s-pocket has tried to cover up.

      So even if a mild subconscious racism of “well, that doesn’t affect me” isn’t the White response to the Martin and Davis tragedies, it’s likely to be “that does seem awful, but I really can’t get into that sort of thing what with making sure Junior does his homework, gets to soccer practice on time, and keeping caught up on The Real Housewives and Restaurant Impossible!”

      If you want to repeal SYG, you’ll need a mass movement, and you get that by convincing EVERY parent in Florida that their teenagers are just as much at risk of senseless slaughter as Trayvon and Jordan. Now, that’s may not be strictly true. Of course. African-Americans certainly have a harder time getting justice, but getting justice isn’t really the issue. A conviction is but small solace when your child is dead. I’d like to know how many people have been killed by gun-wielding nuts emboldened by SYG — even if the killers’ claims of self-defense were rejected by the court and they were convicted.

      John Phillips noted that before SYG was enacted, the standard jury instruction on self-defense read:

      “The defendant cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force. The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force.”

      Now, after SYG, it reads:

      “If the defendant was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

      The packin’ wackos with itchy trigger fingers are going to read this as a free pass, even if it isn’t, since, like Zimmerman and Dunn they will ALWAYS be narcissistic enough to consider themselves justified. “I’M THE VICTIM HERE!” So what if the courts actually do reject their delusions from time to time and toss them into the slammer? That’s just closing the barn door after the hearse has already pulled out of the building. I mean, does anybody actually think that Michael Dunn’s upcoming incarceration is going to deter the next aggrieved armed-to-the-teeth asshole from using that gun for what it was manufactured to do? Or do you think he’s going to think, ‘well, of course, I”M in the right! (God’s plan, yada yada yada)’ and fire away?

      The risk may be imbalanced racially, but _EVERYONE_ IS AT SOME SERIOUS RISK FROM THIS INSANE LAW! Make THAT point forcefully, and you might have a chance to get this thing turned around.

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      • Two sides to a story

        I’m afraid it’s more realistic to expect a bloodbath over a period of many years that will turn it around.

        I hope I’m wrong and that common sense and compassion will prevail!

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  9. Kind-hearted loved your poem and Whonoze, your writing is always thoughtful.

    about the SYG written into Fl law in 2005, this is what I have read.
    the NRA is the strongest lobby in Washington. Every new law they want enacted gets enacted.So, they had to go to extremes to come up with a new law and that’s where Castile doctrine became enhanced to SYG. If a congressman even thinks about setting limits, they have the money and influence to ensure they are voted out of office.
    26 states now have a version of Florida’s law.

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  10. I just listened to an attorney on MHP show say in order to find Dunn guilty of second degree, they would first have to find him NOT guilty of first degree.
    That is complicating for jurors and I don’t think this was ever explained. So, our own honey pot Angela Cory is a bona fid idiot….she doesn’t know how to charge a case. there was never a clear cut pre-meditation action from Dunn so murder 1 guilty verdict was going to be iffy at best.
    Jurors won’t buy into but well, it only takes a second for pre-med to be attached. at least, not for a white man killing an AA teen or adult. Not in todays fear projecting society.

    That Vicki person is just horrible. did you see what she did to John Phillips and then to another twitter …funny as she could only find a court document (warrior) )where she was evicted 23 years ago (1991). Vicki person is on board ,or was, of the Make A Wish Foundation. Ok, maybe she wants to believe tubs (various reasons there) but why would she want to bring down Jordan Davis’s parents and the attorney that was supporting them? Why would her own ego be so threatened to the point that she wants to come after parents and lawyer in a case she has no vested interest in.

    Both of her gotchas just made her look like an imbecile.

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    • 2dogsonly.
      I saw what happened on Twitter with attorney Phillips and the slander campaign that was actually started by DP. There’s a group of them that piggy-back off each other, and while DP has 3 blogs, he uses Vicki to post things on her blog so he won’t be held accountable for it. DP seems to think that Phillips was “practicing law” by being an observer during Dunn’s trial and accompanying Jordan’s parents.

      Attorneys are required to complete continuing education classes and it was a simple matter of the Bar not recording a class that Phillips completed.

      Well — they sent comments here accusing me of saying I was a lawyer and impersonating a lawyer. I’ve never said I was a lawyer and they are not educated enough to know the difference between legal advice and legal information. Frankly, I’m tired of educating them. For instance, DP went on the rampage talking about attorney Crump not being licensed to practice law in Georgia to be on the legal team with attorneys representing Kendrick Johnson’s parents. He tweeted trying to get one of their team to carry that forth on their blogs. In response to his misrepresentation, I posted a comment on this blog about pro hac vice. DP looked it up and then represented that information on Nettle’s blog as if he discovered it on his own. But, at least he learned something to stop slandering attorney Crump on that issue.

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