Parkland Shooter’s Lawyers Say Witnesses Calling Him ‘Killer’ Violate His Due Process Rights

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Don’t call the Parkland shooter a killer, his lawyers say. Don’t call him a murderer. Don’t call him “the thing,” as some have.

And don’t call the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a “massacre,” a “shooting spree” or the “schoolhouse slaughter.”

Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago, is still entitled to a fair trial, and his lawyers say he won’t get one if prosecutors and witnesses use the colorful language to describe him or the incident.

“References to Mr. Cruz with the use of inflammatory labels will violate his constitutional right to due process and his right to a fair trial,” his lawyers wrote in a motion filed June 30.

— Rafael Olmeda in Parkland school shooter might have been a ‘killer,’ but his lawyers don’t want jury to hear it

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72 COMMENTS

    • When was it ever true? Last I checked, there are plenty of speech crimes. Defamation, incitement, harassment, laws about true threat, etc.

      Until he’s convicted, he’s still just the prime suspect.

      • Until hes convicted under law he’s the accused “prime suspect”. The only “prime suspect”, the same “prime suspect” that confessed, the same “prime suspect” the victims pointed to. The same “prime suspect” who is for a fact by his own admission a killer, a murderer, and he has more recently continued his crazed violence by attacking a guard in the jail. I think calling him “the thing” is being too nice.

  1. Just say “alleged” first and you can call him whatever you want. It’s like saying “with all due respect.”

    • I can go along with the use of “alleged” when referring to the defendant, since he hasn’t been convicted yet. Theoretically, he hasn’t been proven guilty yet. But the shooting is a fact that’s not in dispute. Does the lawyer have an alternate theory of what happened? Self defense? Mass suicide? The shooting is a reality; what’s still to be decided is who did it.

      • Let’s shut up and forget all about the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech and cater to attorneys who are obviously selective about Constitutional Rights all while hoping no one noticed what they are up to.

        Calling their client names outside of a courtroom has nothing, nada whatsoever to do with due process.

        • Actually it does if it pollutes the jury pool. How can a juror fairly consider innocence or =guilt when constantly bombarded ti various expressions fo the defendant’s guilt?

        • An effective jury requires impartial jurors – people who, prior to the crime, were neither enemies nor friends of the accused. It in no way requires cave dwellers who know nothing whatsoever, other than what they were told by the liars on either side.

          Such a “requirement” is preposterous and impossible in the Information Age, and was even more so in the Founders’ era – when a “jury of peers” meant people from a small, close village or neighborhood.

        • He is filing a motion about what the defendant is to be called during the trial. And he is correct. It should be impartial and respectful. This guy may be scum , but our country deserves a fair system of justice.

          Also using bad names can cause a mistrial later down the road.

    • Maybe, the trial actors should try a smile on their face when stating facts about the perp.

      Worked for an Executive VP once who’s favorite saying was, “You can say anything, to anyone as along as you have a smile on your face.” I’d always reply……with a smile on my face…..”You’re a shithead, Morry.” He would smile, shake his head, roll his eyes, and say….”See. I’m right.” I’d come back…with a smile on my face…..”Me too.” Yeah, we had a good relationship.

  2. The witnesses can call him the Easter Bunny if they want. They’re entitled to share their opinions with the court.

    • Witnesses cannot share their opinion unless directed by the court. They are supposed to answer questions honestly and factually. If a prosecutor were to ask them “Do you think the defendant is a killer” it would be objected to by any competent attorney and sustained by even the worst judge. By declaring he is a killer, they are making a statement not yet proven in court and therefore, just as leading and speculative as an prosecutor asking the question. Welcome to innocent until proven guilty in court.

      • On the other hand, winesses can say anything they wat outside of the courtroom. 1A like 2A should be the rights. Killing people not so much.

        • Actually, they can’t. A documented pattern of witnesses being openly unfair and patently biased, prior to trial, is an excellent means of setting up a due-process violation motion that could overturn a jury verdict and conviction. Witnesses, no matter whether they are prosecution or defense, are required by law to be unbiased and clinically factual, as ridiculous as that might seem. If witnesses become too publicly strident, the next step is a gag order followed by contempt citations or even a mistrial.
          Witnesses do have to learn to STFU, and let the lawyers do the talking.

  3. Looking at that picture of that grinning scumbag, I get the feeling that’s what my demented troll looks like…

    *shudder* 🙁

  4. I wonder how all these whiny snowflakes would feel if this guy walked later because it was determined he didn’t get a fair trial? Due process for the accused assures justice for the victims!

    • From “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry”.

      “Do you know the difference between Justice and Punishment?”

  5. It always amazes me when people pretend as though the Constitution commands – not merely judges and police, but every American – to pretend a scumbag criminal is as innocent as an angel until he is proven guilty in a court of law.

    I wonder if such idiots believe that (for instance) rape victims fall under such “obligation”?

    Some go so far as to act as if lawyering works some metaphysical magic upon the whole fabric of the universe, such that the criminal actually IS innocent (in fact, not merely in law), that the crime did not actually take place until and unless one emotional appeal outweighs another emotional appeal in the opinions of twelve people with nothing better to do.

    • I don’t mean to be harsh, but the idea of the presumption of innocence is what makes the system of justice that we have work even as badly as it does. Putting the burden of proof upon the Government, with its unlimited resources of personnel and money, is how we keep what little liberty that we have left.

      If you want to see what happens when we allow Government to abandon this principle, look no further than the aftermath of January 6th, where Government has held people not charged with a capitol crime, without bail, and without trial, in solitary confinement, while withholding evidence from them ever since.

      • The Articles of the Constitution delegate certain powers to the government. The Bill of Rights reinforces the notion of limited, delegated powers by imposing specific limits on the powers of government.

        No portion of the Constitution directs (or could ever direct) private citizens what to think or say – which, as Possum and Sam noted, would be diametrically opposed to the First Amendment. It most certainly does not compel anyone to believe or state falsehoods, or refrain from speaking the truth – all the less so for witnesses (people who actually saw / know what happened). To state otherwise is not “harsh”; simply contrary to the Constitution.

        It doesn’t even command judges or other agents of the government what to think. It simply forbids them to “deprive[] of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” [until after conviction] – which I completely agree is essential.

        • All righty, then. If you are ever given the opportunity to testify in court, I challenge you to say whatever you want before the trial, and then during it. Please be certain to violate a judicial gag order pre-trial, and then, in trial, when you are warned by the judge not to say certain things, be sure to loudly and clearly say precisely what the judge told you not to say. You gain extra points if you defy the judge’s instruction on evidence that has been suppressed and bring it up anyway because Rights; No judge can tell YOU that you can’t speak the truth, even if it has been legally declared inadmissible. No, Sir!
          Then, see just how far your 1st Amendment right of free speech gets you when the judge finds you in contempt, and sentences you to prison.
          It’ll be entertaining.

          As any Constitutional scholar can tell you, not a ONE of the Amendments is absolute, and that certainly includes the 1st. Your government CAN tell you to stop saying certain things, at certain times, and you disobey at your legal peril. This has ironclad case-history precedent, and although you can claim otherwise, you are wrong.

        • I’m sure you are (factually) correct about the current state of the legal system. That does not in any way make the current system either Constitutionally or ethically correct.

          As I noted elsewhere, a fair trial does not require juries in a vacuum. Pretending that the Constitution requires that – which is not possible today, and never was – benefits no one but guilty criminals (and lawyers), just like every single novelty inferred “from the Constitution” by leftist activists who regard it as a hated obstacle to “progress”.

          Logically, some might say fairness requires the jurors hear every piece of information available. Others might argue that they should hear nothing but the most relevant facts. Wherever he might fall along that spectrum, no just or rational person could reach the conclusion that jurors should only receive information via people specifically trained to manipulate facts and twist them into emotional appeals – but those (both lawyers and the press) are the people with the broadest possible powers to speak freely and control information under the current system.

    • To add to what John said, most of the people calling him names are NOT witnesses to the shooting, and will testify, if at all, only during the sentencing phase if he is convicted. So tell us, Umm, were you there? Did you see him shoot anyone? Or are you relying solely upon the reports you’ve read from the notoriously unreliable press?

  6. He absolutely, one hundred percent deserves a fair trial. And then he absolutely, one hundred percent deserves a fair execution.

    • “He absolutely, one hundred percent deserves a fair trial.”

      Like I told my boss when my “Get out of work Free for a day” letter came in the mail (AKA- Jury Duty),

      “I’m looking forward to giving the guilty bastard the fair trial he deserves”.

      He laughed. He was my second-favorite boss of all time… 🙂

        • “…you are not a big believer in Karma.”

          Karma? Nope.

          “No fate, but what we make.”

          It’s up to *me*, and me alone…

  7. I often wonder how some lawyers live with themselves. Defendants absolutely need a fair trial, but the crap that some lawyers spew is just ludicrous.

  8. Calling him a killer is not a violation of his due process. Convicting him as a killer without trial IS violating his due process. There’s a big difference between the two.

    • It is if the jury pool is predisposed by all of the negative press to convict irrespective of the evidence at trial. That is not a fair trial, and an unfair trial is a violation of due process.

  9. That smug, psychotic grin on his face could make even the most sane, level-headed person want to punch him repeatedly until his mug looks like the dude on Walking Dead that got pounded into mush by “Lucille”. 😡

    • After a hanging, the noose knot would be seized tight and difficult to remove, so most of the time they would just cut the rope and bury the body with the noose still attached. For this reason, old worn ropes were preferred for use in hangings, which could slip and fail to break the neck, leaving the condemned to choke to death instead.

      Hence the expression, “You’d complain if you were hung with a new rope.” (We’re going to extra trouble and expense to keep you from suffering, and you’re still bellyaching?”)

      • There was the long drop which broke the neck if properly calculated. And the short drop which slowly strangled the perpetrator while causing them to void their bowels.

        Cruz deserves the latter. While wearing white and no hood. Recorded as a warning to others.

        • Warnings are ineffective in preventing homicides. The Romans used to crucify people and leave he bodies nailed to the crosses along the Appian Way until the rotted and fell off. The English continued the process with hanged men hanging from trees along roadways, and heads of the beheaded placed on the spikes of the Old Bailey. In the Old West, cattle rustling, murder, and horse theft were hanging offenses, and everyone knew it. But despite all of these examples, and many more, going back to the dawn of history (and prob ably a lot further back than that) we still have violent crime. Imagine that. Capitol punishment deters only the one criminal, not any future ones. People who kill really don’t consider the consequences of their acts.

        • Mark N.,
          This is an oft-repeated talking point, but cannot survive more than superficial analysis of the facts.

          An effective tool in deterrence planning is to conduct negative risk management (a process like that used to plan safe operations) from the opposing perspective. Risk Management processes vary, but all require balancing of both the Probability and Severity of consequences.

          Many periods of history had punishments like you described. They also had zero forensics, zero databasing or information-sharing, zero high-speed communications, surveillance, or motor vehicles, zero professional police, and only the most sporadic and rudimentary substitutes. With some obvious exceptions (personal rivals of the rulers, slaves, enemy aliens) many not only had reasonably fair trials, but often very high standards of proof (multiple eyewitness requirements, compounding the lack of science to deliver a physical-evidence “smoking gun”). So, in summary, high Severity that, at first glance, may prompt shock that crime rates weren’t much better than today’s. Conversely, considering Probability – zero of being deterred or prevented from a crime by police patrols, negligible for LEOs responding to stop a crime in progress, completely unsystematic arrest process, and low likelihood of meeting the standard for conviction – the real question is why it wasn’t orders of magnitude worse! Sometimes Severity is high enough to make even a negligible Probability a terrifying prospect. Unfortunately, the above techniques to improve the probability of prevention, arrest, and conviction developed coincidentally with the absurdity that governments are supposed to “help” society’s enemies rather than punish them.

          Secondly, you not only paint all criminals with a broad brush, completely disregarding not only elaborate stealth, evidence hiding, bribery, etc. measures, but also disregard non-criminals. Many people who have grievances and/or stand to profit at others’ expense choose not to pursue crime.

          Consider this case itself: many, who clearly believe this guy should suffer, do nothing about it. Is it because leaving him to get off on a technicality or (“best” case) receive taxpayer charity for at least several decades is “The Right Thing to Do”? LOL, no – it’s the consequences.

        • “People who kill really don’t consider the consequences of their acts.”

          I argue they do, but they think they’ll get away with it, since they are delusional in thinking they are smarter.

          Or, if the person was a bona-fide scumbag, that cops won’t break a sweat investigating the murder. Surprise, surprise, some cops just love a difficult challenge, or are gunning for a promotion…

  10. He’s an ‘alleged’ killer. Just like joe xiden is an ‘alleged’ pedophile and SA-Truppfuhrer miner49er is an ‘alleged’ fascist.

    Got to get the nomenclature right.

  11. Perhaps that attorney would understand why people are calling his client a “killer” if someone sodomized him with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot and slugs?

  12. He ain’t going anywhere especially after the assault on the guard. When he hits GP and acts out it’ll be a short lived issue. That when you’ll know how much is an act because he’ll either get shanked or act right.

  13. The claim by the suspect/defender’s lawyer is novel it seems. Wonder if the judge declaring, “The jury is to disregard….” sets things “right”, again?

    • An old expression among trial attorneys: “You can’t unring the bell.” A judge’s instruction to the jury to disregard merely reinforces that matter that is to be disregarded.

      • “A judge’s instruction to the jury to disregard merely reinforces that matter that is to be disregarded.”

        If the judge’s instruction does not return the trial to “fair”, every such instruction would seem to indicate an immediate mistrial is required in order to begin again to conduct a fair trial.

        Never read anything that stated a “fair” trial must be a “perfect trial”, but that is becoming the demand of the media and SJWs.

        To be truly fair, jurors should be anti-government types who would require devastating proof of guilt such that the opposing types can trust the government charges and claims of guilt.

        • “If the judge’s instruction does not return the trial to “fair”, every such instruction would seem to indicate an immediate mistrial is required in order to begin again to conduct a fair trial.”

          That can require money the defendant doesn’t have for a retrial…

  14. I have no sympathy what-so-ever for this guy. I’d pull the switch on him myself once he’s convicted.

    But – If this guy isn’t pleading not guilty by reason of insanity and found to be innocent for the same reason (and committed for the rest of his life, hopefully), then why is that defense even a legal premise?
    If he and the Aurora shooter (honestly – especially him. That guy is really, really crazy) aren’t legally crazy, then they should just do away with that defense totally.
    I do understand that some people are crazy and some are just evil. In my mind, the evil ones are the monsters who rape and/or kill children or kill 5 witnesses to a 20 dollar robbery. Crazy people walk into a school or movie theater and kill everyone they see.

    If anyone feels differently please explain it to me because I don’t understand.

    • “Legally insane” means that the defendant did not know what he was doing or could not comprehend that what he was doing was wrong. If he or she did not know right from wrong or did not understand the moral nature of the act because of a mental disease or defect, then he is legally insane. But in the case of Aurora, he heard voices telling him to kill, knew that killing was wrong, but did so to stop the voices. He was therefore “sane” (at least as long as he was taking meds. Otherwise he was out in hallucination land.)

      • I had a cousin, he was mentally insane, got a disability check for it.
        He and I crossed paths and he told me this. ” You’ll go to prison and I’ll just get locked up in the nut house.”
        He did kill a guy eventually ( with a machete), and he died in prison last year. I think what hung him was his statement, “I’m glad hes dead.”

  15. Why is this guy still alive? Oh yeah, so the attorneys can take all the money from the estate he and his half-brother inherited.

  16. Oh so no more 1st Amendment rights either, gotcha, from now on I’ll only say what ‘they’ tell me I can.

    • For perfect clarity, in a courtroom, you CANNOT say anything that ‘they’ tell you that you cannot say. In a legal setting, your speech is TIGHTLY restricted–meaning that if you cross a legal boundary, you will be punished for it.

      If a judge tells you to state nothing but facts, and you start stating opinions, you’ll get silenced very quickly. If you try to say things that have been excluded by legal order, or bring up ‘facts’ that have been suppressed by the court, you get sanctioned, possibly imprisoned, and you may very well cause a mistrial that could result in a guilty defendant going free due to your ‘free speech.’

      Ensuring a fair trial is what we’re talking about, here, not Xi Biden-Harris scrubbing your FaceBook screed on COVID being a conspiracy between Venusians and the Democratic Party.

  17. “Oh so no more 1st Amendment rights either, gotcha, from now on I’ll only say what ‘they’ tell me I can.”

    For a possum, you catch on quicker than most.

  18. @Geoff

    “That can require money the defendant doesn’t have for a retrial…”

    Would that be the same money required to appeal an “unfair” trial? The defendant’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress speech. What happens if the judge rejects the motion? Where does that leave the defendant?

    Appealing for a new trial.

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