Dunn jury selection now open to the media

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jury selection in the Michael Dunn murder trial is now open to the media with two media representatives -- both First Coast News reporters -- allowed in the courtroom on Tuesday.

Dunn is accused in the fatal November 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Judge Russell Healey, following a lengthy discussion with media attorneys agreed to change the rules, allowing reporters in the courtroom and permitting a video feed from inside the courtroom to be broadcast.

Healey said he'd read case law presented by attorneys for local media "in his spare time." That case law included two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that found that criminal cases must be open to the public, a guarantee that includes the jury selection process.

RELATED: Complete coverage of the Dunn trial

Prior to the ruling from the bench, audio of jury selection was transmitted to a nearby courtroom for the media to listen to without the benefit of any video from the courtroom.

First Coast News, joined by other local media organizations, challenged the court's actions that had excluded media from the courtroom where prospective jurors were being questioned.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two FCN reporters were allowed into Duval County Courthouse Courtroom 406, but were prohibited from taking courtroom pictures or recording proceedings. On Wednesday, there will be four seats reserved for local media and 16 seats for family members, eight each for the families of the victim and the defendant.

Another Tuesday development was the judge's decision to allow the overflow courtroom room to receive a video feed, giving members of the media a glimpse of Dunn in something other than an orange jumpsuit. He wore a dark suit, a red and blue striped tie and a white shirt. He attentively sat through the proceedings and even laughed at lighter moments during juror questioning.

The goal is to have 12 jurors and four alternates in place by Thursday. Those jurors would be sequestered during the trial.

Currently, there are 62 jurors in the pool, which is about one-third nonwhite and mostly female with 15 men. Court resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday.


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