Jonathan Clyde Davis
A man in North Florida was found in contempt of court last week and sentenced to 6 months in jail for posting a live stream of a trial on Facebook Live. Jonathan Davis was sentenced to 6 months in jail in Gainesville, which is the maximum possible sentence for contempt of court. Prosecutors indicated that witnesses were already reluctant to testify in the murder case that was going on, and that the streaming may have been a tactic to discourage participation.
However, there are several problems with this charge, primarily the First Amendment. People have a protected right to publish, and there’s nothing that would indicate that the courtroom had been closed. Generally open court is open court, and is not only open to the public, it is open to being recorded and being disseminated. (For that matter, all court proceedings are recorded). Apparently there is an administrative order that people must get permission to record or broadcast, but it is unclear if Mr. Davis knew about that order. There’s even an issue whether that order is Unconstitutional, though there is clearly an interest in the court in making sure cameras do not disrupt the proceedings.
At first blush this case is going to have difficulty holding muster on appeal. Apparently, he lied to the judge about what he was doing, and if the judge couched his conviction on that, he might be upheld. The Gainesville Sun spoke to UF Law professor Kenneth Nunn, who astutely points out that a Direct Contempt proceeding may not have even been appropriate since the Bailiff’s alerted the judge Mr. Davis’ activity. The fact that Mr. Davis was streaming is not itself inherently disruptive. One can appreciate why the court and the prosecutor are concerned, but the proceedings in open court are always public and subject to publication.
The State was still able to obtain a conviction on the second-degree murder charges.
I guess some kids in Gainesville were having too much fun or something, playing basketball, and somebody called the cops on them. Why? I don’t know… something about noise perhaps, as if that was illegal. So, somebody literally calls the fun police, and the cops have to respond to the call. He walks up to the guys, and says, “Can you believe it?” I love it.
He hung around to shoot hoops for a little while, and even lowered the rim for a dankaroo! That’s good police work. It was Gainesville PD that posted the video, with a comment that they have no problem with kids being kids. #hoopsnotcrime Good stuff.
Yes, that headline could also only happen in Florida.
Joseph Carl Mug Shot
Joseph Howard Carl (Three first names!) of Gainesville got mad at another drive, got out of his car and started banging on the man’s window. That driver drove off, and Carl’s own vehicle was not in park and rolled over him. I don’t think you are allowed to get mad at another driver when you can’t handle your own vehicle. To top it of, Carl’s driver’s license had been suspended over 20 years ago: he should not have been driving at all.
Carl refused medical attention, but smelled of alcohol, and was arrested for DUI. Cops found High Life cans in the vehicle, and Carl was later transported to the hospital for treatment for a broken foot, and found to have a .22 blood alcohol level.
Antonio Morrison Mug Shot
UF linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested this weekend for barking at a police dog, and resisting/obstructing an officer. Florida has a statute dealing with police dogs which has several levels of offenses for what is done to the dog. Morrison is charged with the lowest level, which prohibits interfering, harassing, or teasing a police dog in the course of its duties. It can be a felony to kill or seriously injure a K-9. It doesn’t specifically say barking at the dog, but everybody knows that agitating a dog will cause that dog to react.
Morrison’s defense would be that the agitation did not occur in the course of the performance of the dog’s duties. The dog was apparently restrained in his handler’s squad car when the barking began. He did not prevent the dog from doing any of its duties if it was locked up in the squad car at the time of the incident. That’s a tough sell for the prosecutor. Morrison could also argue that he wasn’t intentionally or maliciously harassing the dog. He’s claiming that the dog barked at him, and he was only responding with a “woof woof” sound because the dog barked at him. He also has to deal with the obstruction charge.
This case would make a fun trial to watch, but it’s unlikely to go that far. Morrison probably has bigger concerns than this case, as he’s also facing a battery charge.
Antonio Morrison Mug Shot
UF Linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested this weekend for barking at a police dog, and obstruction of justice, both misdemeanors. This is going to be bigger trouble due to a recent battery arrest, for which he received deferred prosecution. This new charge likely violates his diversion contract, and he will have to face charges for the original battery now. He has been suspended the first couple games of the season.
Coming Monday on this blog: Can they really arrest you for barking at a police dog? (yup)
Chris Rainey Mug Shot
Chris Rainey and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season concluded a little early when they finished behind Cincinnati* and Baltimore to miss the playoffs a second year in a row. He was back in Gainesville when he and his girlfriend of 9 months got into a spat. He allegedly tried to pull her out of her car, and slapped her across the face. He is charged with a misdemeanor battery, but could’ve faced worse charges for trying to pull her out of the vehicle; Burglary with a Battery is a Life Felony in Florida. Now, a neighbor who was a witness has come forward to dispute the allegations and speak up on Mr. Rainey’s behalf. She says he only touched her backpack, and never slapped her. Florida’s battery statute is very broad so as to include ANY touching, so he may not be out of the woods even with this new witness.
I have to admit that before the new witness came forward, I was having trouble giving Rainey the benefit of the doubt. After his ignominious first arrest, where he texted the now infamous “It’s Time to Die, Bitch”, it is very difficult to afford him the presumption of innocence, even for myself. It was also funny when they taunted him with that at football games. The Steelers did not wait for the full story, and have already cut Rainey. Violence against women is a serious concern in this country, but Rainey has the right to defend himself and get his day in court before judgment should be passed.
This is the second NFL related arrest already this offseason… and the first one to affect my Fantasy Football team (ok, he’s on my roster, but it’s not like he was a keeper).
*I am a blatant Cincinnati Bengals fan.