JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The mood inside the Duval County Courthouse bordered on surreal midday Friday, as deliberations in the Michael Dunn trial moved into their 17th hour on the 4th floor, while below, on the steps leading up from the ground floor atrium, 12 couples participated in the second annual mass Valentine's Day wedding.
The ceremony, officiated by Clerk of the Court Ronnie Fussell, united a cross-section of couples arguably more diverse than the jury three flights upstairs, which pushed past the 16+hour-long juror deliberations in the George Zimmerman case.
The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch -- almost. Fussell initially forgot to name prospective husband Justin Lucas -- giving him and his bride, Danielle, a moment of consternation. But vows, a group prayer and a kiss sealed the deal. As the crowd gathered on balconies up all seven floors cheered, couples posed for photographs before retiring to the third floor for cupcakes, punch, and signed wedding licenses.
Courthouse officials, speaking off the record, said they had "contingency" plans in place in the event of a Dunn verdict during the wedding ceremony. They would not elaborate, other than to say that the wedding itself would not be disrupted. As it turns out, no contingency plans were needed. They jury, approaching the 4 pm hour, appeared no closer today to a verdict.