TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida's 1st District Court of Appeals unanimously granted a request by Jacksonville media outlets and overturned a local judge's decision to delay the release of public records in the trial of Michael Dunn.
The three-judge panel determined Duval County Court Judge Russell Healey "acted with proper intent" when he ordered the delay, but nonetheless vacated his October decision to delay the release of Dunn discovery until he could personally review them.
Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old
Jordan Davis. Dunn, who is white,
is accused of shooting Davis, who is African-American, in a dispute
over loud music. Dunn has pleaded not guilty.
While awaiting trial at the Duval County Jail, Dunn has written some racially inflammatory letters -- some of which have gone viral. That prompted Healey to clamp down on future discovery-related releases, until he can review them.
RELATED: Read Michael Dunn's jail letters here
On Tuesday, lawyers representing First Coast News and our news partners the Florida Times-Union asked the three-judge panel to reverse Healey, saying any delay -- including the judge's proposed 30-day review -- was not permitted by state public records laws.
"I think it's fair to say that almost nothing in regards to public records is working in this case," First Coast News attorney George Gabel told the court yesterday.
The court left open the possibility that future public record clampdowns may be necessary, but ordered that any request for a delay in the release of public records be based on an "evidentiary hearing," which did not occur in the case under review.
First Coast News