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Law: State Of Florida V. Michael Canady Essay, Research Paper
On the date of November 27, 2000, I visited the Hillsborough county Courthouse and witnessed the Thirteenth District Circuit Court of Florida in its proceedings. The case was the State of Florida v. Michael Canady and his honor that presided over the case was Judge William Fuente. The case was called at 10:30 AM and opened with the Judge splitting the charges against the defendant. The defendant was charged with a count of second-degree possession of cannabis with intent to sell and second-degree felon in possession of a firearm. It came to my attention from one of the bailiffs that the defendant was already sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for burglary. The judge says that jury selection for both cases will be today followed by the cases on the next day. The public defender assigned to the case asked for a continuance, which the judge denied. A jury panel of twenty-two members was brought in and by the bailiff. Judge instructs the panel to the specifics of the case and introduces all parties involved. The case that the jury was being questioned for was the felon in possession charge. The judge instructed the jury of the duty being asked of them and explained that in a criminal case, the prosecution must prove its case rather than the defense must disprove it. He then briefly explained reasonable doubt. The judge proceeded to ask if anyone in the jury had any bias towards firearms. He then asked if anyone had ever served on a jury for a criminal case before, to which four potential jurors responded. The judge then turned the voir dire questioning over to the state attorney. The prosecutor then asked if anyone had ever been accused of a crime or known anyone that had been accused of a crime. Seven people responded to the question. Through his questioning the prosecutor found two members of the panel that had plead guilty to soliciting a prostitute and one that was accused of public indecency. He then asked if these members held any ill will towards the judicial system. They all responded no. One of the panelists had a father that molested her and was sentenced to five years of jail and felt that sentence was not stern enough. He next asks the panel if they believe beyond a reasonable doubt meant that it had to be 100 percent. Four jury members said that they believed it did. He presented a scenario in which a woman walks into her bedroom to find her husband sleeping next to another woman. The husband claims that she must have come in off the street and lay down next to him while he was asleep. He showed through this great example that reasonable doubt does not have to be 100 percent. He then asked if any of the jurors would have any remorse if they had to return a verdict of guilty. No one responded. This concluded his questioning. The defense attorney (DA) began to question the panel as if it had any racial bias (being that the defendant was African American). No one responded. The DA then gave a scenario of three men in a single place, with a pen in the middle of them (clear reference to a gun), if they could believe that one of those three men never intended to use or even be around that pen. The jury then agreed that one of those men could have no intent what so ever. This concluded the DA’s questioning. After a quick five-minute recess, the two attorneys were given four challenges each. The prosecution immediately challenged the two panelists, which were African American. The defense challenged the one man who said his brother was a law enforcement officer and the woman who had been molested by her father. The prosecution the challenged two of the people who believed reasonable doubt was 100 percent (one of which was the solicitors of a prostitute). The defense then challenged and older woman and an older man which may have had an unspoken bias against firearms. This concluded the jury selection process. Trial was set for 8:00 AM November 28,2000. Court then recessed for lunch. I was very impressed by the prosecution for his example of the husband and wife. It even surprised me with his outcome. The DA was not very impressive and a got a feeling that the jurors were annoyed by him. Overall the prosecutor made the experience worth it.
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