Posted: April 6th, 2022

Court Proceedings Experience Reaction Paper

Court Proceedings Experience


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year-old Nicholas Lindsay was charged for the murder of Officer David Crawford. Besides Lindsay’s own confession to the murder, there is no other evidence that he committed the murder. Lindsay made this confession at the urging and in the presence of his mother, without a lawyer present. He told the police officers that he shot David Crawford after being apprehended by Crawford.


The official police report stated that, after apprehending Lindsay, Crawford was reaching for his notepad when Lindsay pulled out his own handgun and shot him five times in the chest. Hence, Lindsay was arrested and charged for murder. The prosecution, which included the State Attorney, decided to prosecute 16-year-old Lindsay as an adult.


Lindsay was indicted on the count of Murder in the First-Degree, which is defined by Florid State law as “The unlawful killing of a human being perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being. (s. 782.04(1)(a)(1). This is significant because Florida has a special Law Enforcement Protection Act, which mandates, for the murder of a police officer, a sentence of “life imprisonment without eligibility for release” when “The defendant committed murder in the first degree in violation of s. 782.04(1) and a death sentence was not imposed.” (782.051). Thus, Lindsay, who committed the murder as a 16-year-old, could be imprisoned for life in the jury finds that he shot Officer Crawford from a premeditated design to kill him.




Lindsey was being tried as an adult because his criminal history and actions at the time of the incident appeared to indicate, to the prosecution, that he understood the full significance and gravity of his actions.


Noteworthy Observances


Community Anger


It appears that Lindsay was bearing the brunt of the community’s anger over a rash of recent attacks on its police officers. Two police officers had been killed in gunfights with people in the community in the two months preceding the incident involving Lindsay.


The murder trial was scheduled very soon after the murder, less than 10 months after the events. Trials for murder are usually scheduled two years, on average, after the date of the crime. The Judge seemed overeager to give the angry populace what they wanted, swift “justice.” As the jury was inevitably going to be selected from the defendant’s peers in the community, this was a very bad decision.


If anything, the Judge should have given more time for the community to cool down in order to diminish the influence of emotion on their findings of fact, which could be very prejudicial to Lindsay in this trial. Preventing prejudicial bias is the very reason for voir dire and the modern jury selection process. It is part of the Constitutional right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings.


Taped Confession


The judge’s ruling that the taped confession was admissible did not make sense. The defendant confessed without the counsel or presence of a lawyer, which was requested by Lindsay’s mother. The judge reasoned that Lindsay waived his right to presence of a lawyer because Lindsay’s mother was in the room counseling him, urging him to confess.


Considering that Lindsay is being treated and tried as an adult in this proceeding, it does not make sense to change the application of 5th Amendment Miranda rights because he was a minor. By allowing waiver of Miranda rights by parental consent, the judge is effectively lowering the standard for protection of Constitutional rights. If Lindsay is going to be tried as an adult, the rules of criminal procedure regarding the waiver of Miranda rights should be applied to him as an adult.


The Defense Team’s Strategy


The defense team’s strategy was to convince the jury that manslaughter took place. They portrayed Lindsey as a scared youth who panicked because he thought he was going to be killed. They suggested a charge of aggravated manslaughter instead of first-degree murder because would allow Lindsay to avoid the LEPA statute and a mandatory life sentence.


Is it even necessary for the defense to propose an alternative charge? In their attempt to prove aggravated manslaughter, the defense argued, unpersuasively, that the defendant did not know the gun’s safety switch was off. As I understand it, all the defense should be concerned with is defending the charge of first degree murder. In this situation, this means showing that Lindsay did not have premeditated design to kill Crawford when he shot him.


According to the Florida State model jury instructions for first degree murder:


“Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.” (Jury Instructions).


The Prosecution’s Argument for Intent


In their effort to show that “killing with premeditation,” the prosecution argued that it was an intentional murder of a law enforcement officer because Lindsay shot Crawford five times and did not miss a bullet. However, the fact that Lindsay fired five shots and did not miss does not prove that he made a conscious decision to kill Crawford before shooting him and that the decision was in his mind at the time he fired the shots. He may not have had a clear purpose if he was acting out of panic and self-defense. If he did plan to kill Officer Crawford, he would not have waited until Crawford approached him and, apparently, pulled out his weapon.


Even if the jury believes that there can be no other reason for those shots other than to kill, they still have to find that Crawford formed the intent sometime before he started firing shots. He must have formed the decision to kill long enough beforehand to allow reflection. According to the police report, Lindsay, after seeing Crawford reaching for his pocket, pulled out his gun and started firing. In the period between Crawford’s action and Lindsay’s reaction, there did not appear to be enough time for Lindsay, or anybody, to reflect on his intentions were, about what condition he wanted Crawford to be in as a result of his shots.


The defense should have also emphasized the fact that Lindsey was not a violent person and had no history of violent offenses. Lindsay was not the type to go around looking to harm people. On the night of the incident, Lindsey was carrying the gun for protection.


Lindsey was an impressionable inner-city youth who was captivated by the gangster culture and even had a gangster name. The gangster culture promotes the notion that gangsters are constantly under threat from other gangsters. Lindsay was carrying a gun to protect himself from other gangsters, not police officers.




s. 782.04(1)


s. 782.051).


Florida Supreme Court, Jury Instructions – 7.2 MURDER — FIRST DEGREE. Available at


“2 officers killed, man found dead after shootout inside Florida home.” CNN. 2010-10-18.

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