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Old July 10, 2013, 05:13 PM   #231
Spats McGee
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Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 6,995
On the issue of text messages, school records, etc., what we're talking about is basically character evidence and whether Martin acted in conformity therewith. (IOW, introduction of such evidence to prove that Martin was a violent young man who acted in a violent manner on the night in question.)
Quote:
90.404 Character evidence; when admissible.—
(1) CHARACTER EVIDENCE GENERALLY.—Evidence of a person’s character or a trait of character is inadmissible to prove action in conformity with it on a particular occasion, except:
(a) Character of accused.—Evidence of a pertinent trait of character offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the trait.


(b) Character of victim.—
1. Except as provided in s. 794.022, evidence of a pertinent trait of character of the victim of the crime offered by an accused, or by the prosecution to rebut the trait; or

2. Evidence of a character trait of peacefulness of the victim offered by the prosecution in a homicide case to rebut evidence that the victim was the aggressor.

(c) Character of witness.—Evidence of the character of a witness, as provided in ss. 90.608-90.610.

(2) OTHER CRIMES, WRONGS, OR ACTS.—
(a) Similar fact evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is admissible when relevant to prove a material fact in issue, including, but not limited to, proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident, but it is inadmissible when the evidence is relevant solely to prove bad character or propensity. . . . .
(Source: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/.../0090.404.html (emphasis supplied))
That's a lot of fairly sticky language, and refers to statutes with which I have no familiarity. With that said: (1) unless GZ was familiar with TM prior to contact, it's going to be difficult for the defense to argue that such records formed any sort of basis for a reasonable belief or fear of death or bodily harm; and (2) Section (1)(a) is unclear to me in its wording of "[e]vidence of a pertinent trait of character offered by an accused," in that I'm not sure if that can be used as "evidence of a pertinent trait of character [of TM] offered by an accused (GZ)," or if it simply refers to one of GZ's character traits, offered by him. I just haven't read enough FL caselaw to answer that.
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