Hazing law challenged in death of FAMU band member

Filed under FLORIDA, NEWS

THE NEWS SERVICE
OF FLORIDA

A former member of Florida A&M University’s “Marching 100” band is arguing that a state hazing law is unconstitutional as he challenges his convictions in the high-profile 2011 death of drum major Robert Champion.

An attorney for Dante Martin, who was found guilty of manslaughter, felony hazing resulting in death and two counts of misdemeanor hazing in the death of Champion, filed a brief Tuesday asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up the case. The brief argues that Florida’s hazing law is overbroad. The 5th District Court of Appeal upheld the convictions in November.

“Florida’s hazing statute criminalizes the type of conduct that –  though physically grueling, perceived as brutal to many, and unappealing to most – is nonetheless protected under the federal Constitution,” the brief said. “This statute renders illegal a substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct that is, notably, openly discussed, critiqued, promoted, advertised, and practiced by students statewide.”

During a ritual known as “crossing Bus C,’’ Champion and band members were struck repeatedly as they crossed from the front of a bus to the back. Martin was “president” of Bus C, according to the appeals-court ruling.

Martin, 29, was sentenced to 77 months in prison after being found guilty by an Orange County jury.

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