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Fair trial versus public right to know in Michael Dunn trial

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Updated: 1/04 12:22 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new battle continues in the trial for a man accused of murdering a Jacksonville-area teen.

This time, it involves the public's right to know.

[Special Coverage: Murder over Loud Music]

A local judge is now reconsidering his own ruling to partially release evidence in the Michael Dunn case.

"My favorite amendment isn't the First Amendment, it's the Sixth Amendment -- it says right to a trial by jury," said Jordan Davis' family's attorney, John Phillips.

The law also says every defendant has the right to a fair trail. That has been called into question in the case of Dunn. He's accused of killing Davis in a gas station parking lot over loud music. It happened last November and has since sparked national attention.

"All of a sudden, everyone starts to offer their opinions or their take on what this meant or what was said or what the ramifications are and how it might play out, and it just spreads and spreads and spreads out of control," said Judge Russell Healey.

Davis' family just wants justice, but the public wants more details. The judge made a ruling that the court can decide which pieces of evidence, like jail letters and witness statements, will be made public. He's now reconsidered his ruling after members of the media filed a motion to allow all evidence to be public record.

"What we're worried about -- and I know Duval County is very big -- is some of them already having preconceived ideas based upon Dunn's own words or anybody's own words such that they can't be a fair juror in this trial," said Phillips.

In a rare instance, both the prosecution and defense are on the same page.

"We have a right to represent people in the state of Florida in a fair trial for us. This defendant certainly has a right to a fair trial. We believe those constitutional rights outweigh any interest of the media or the public," said State Attorney Angela Corey.

The judge will take a week to decide whether to uphold his restrictive order. His fear is if too much information is out there, the court will be forced to change venues for the trial -- which is costly to the taxpayers.

The Davis family is holding a commemorative one-year anniversary and candlelight vigil marking Jordan Davis' death at Latham Plaza, in Jax Beach, Nov. 23 from 5-8 p.m.

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