Yesterday's jury selection was a marathon that began at 9 AM and ended at just after 7 PM. During that time, 90 jurors were screened for hardship. By the end of the day, the total number up jurors to pass muster was 66, comprised of 34 men and 32 women.
But the day didn't go smoothly at all.
At 8:52, the lawyers entered the courtroom. Apparently they had made their phone call to the expert, Dr. Shaw to discuss the hair banding situation from yesterday. Within a couple of minutes, Casey Anthony was led into the courtroom, wearing a pink button-down shirt. She did not look her best. She had the same expression on her face that she wore most of the previous two days.
She sat down and fiddled with the items in front of her and groomed her apparently newly-trimmed side bangs as well as her clothing. This is certainly not the same Casey Anthony who would formerly come into the courtroom with a smile for “her boys.”
After a short side bar with Jeff Ashton and Dorothy Clay Sims, Judge Belvin Perry asked if there are any matters to be brought up.
Cheney Mason reminded the judge to tell jurors the are not on camera and that jurors can call their spouses to discuss hardships of being sequestered for six to eight weeks. Then, Jose Baez then stood to "make a point of two". He complained about the cafeteria downstairs where many prospective jurors go for breakfast. There is a television down there with the news on. Oops! It's a radio! Perry said he would have someone look into that.
Then, Baez started to discuss yesterday's problem. He wanted the court to ask the question again since too many people raised their hands. Perry responded that such questions will be asked on an individual basis. He also felt that there should be more information about sequestration in his speech today.
Perry responded that he did not want to go over all the rules involving sequestration because it could go into the end of the week to do that. Then, the prosecution and the defense turned their chairs around to face the gallery and stood and watched as the next pool of 50 prospective jurors entered the room.
Once all the prospective jurors were seated, the judge began his presentation. When he read the indictment, Casey's water works appeared. It’s was though she was so sorry for herself, she just couldn't help herself. She made a terrible impression on these people as, throughout the remainder of the judge's instructions, she wiped her eyes, picked at her nose with a tissue, and kept her head down, refusing to look at the people sitting before her.
After the prospective jurors left, a new lady with dark hair who is seated with the defense, had a conference with her as well as Baez and Sims. She was then led out of the courtroom by guards. There seemed to be a great deal of concern, I'm sure with her demeanor and state of mind.
When Casey returned, Ann Finnel addressed the court but we couldn't hear her because their mike was gone from the table.
Judge Perry noted her objections and denied them. He said that he’d given the same instructions 15-18 times and the Supreme Court has looked at them a number of times.
As to the racial composition of the jury pool, he said that they have no control over the computer program that chooses the jury pool from driver’s licences and ID cards.
From that point until 12:13, we listened to person after person tells whether or not they have hardships and what they were. As it turned out, there were more women in this group than yesterday and more prospective jurors pass the first cut.
When the lunch hour was over, we were treated to a lesson in how not to get out of jury duty. At lunch, a prospective juror approached a member of the media and started discussing the case, with the goal of getting out of jury duty. The reporter told Judge Perry, and a young man was called to the witness stand.
The young man admitted he began talking to reporter but didn't remember what he said. When Perry said the conversation was about trying to get out of jury duty. He then asked him to tell the court why he should not be held in contempt of court.
He said that he didn't know.
Perry asked what it was that he didn't understand?
He said he didn't know he was doing anything wrong.
When Perry reminded him of the speech earlier that morning, the man said he did, but then said he didn’t listen!
Finally, he admitted the allegations were true and Perry asked him if he knew of a reason he shouldn’t be found guilty. The young man said that he didn’t know. Perry found him in contempt of court and fined him $450.
He did manage to get excused from jury duty, at a steep price.
When it was time to move on to voir-dire, Jose Baez reiterated his objections as he had done on the first day and this morning. He has been concerned at the lack of minorities in the jury pool. Judge Perry told him he had found possible solution. The local sheriff had a homeless shelter next door which might yield some minorities. He could check for those who have driver’s licenses or ID cards. Cheney Mason laughed at the prospect, but Baez thought about it for a moment and agreed to have that done!
Voir-dire continued all afternoon until about 3:35. The initial group of 50 had been questioned. It was now time to move on to the next 40. Once again, we went through the process of turning around, the reading of the indictment, and Casey’s distress at hearing the details of the case.
When the prospective jurors left the courtroom, there was a Casey Emergency. Through most of the morning and through the afternoon, she had been tightly clenching her hands. At first, Dorothy Sims spoke with her and made a lot of motions with her hands and Casey was showing her hands to Sims. Then, more of her attorneys surrounded her as well as some of the guards nearby. Finally, she was escorted from the courtroom in obvious distress. She remained behind closed doors and was visited by Jose Baez and Cheney Mason.
Whatever happened to her, I think she is cracking under the pressure of jury selection. She has yet to look the group of jurors in the face and cries every time Judge Perry addresses them. She is grooming herself constantly or clasping her hands so hard she may be suffering from spasms. She looks “all shook up” most of the time. This is going to be a long trial!
The remainder of the court day consisted of listening to the voir-dire of the last 40 people called. It didn’t end until shortly after 7 PM. The last session was not very successful, with just 7 people selected to move on to the next phase.
We will be back in court at 8:30 AM, May 12. Round two should prove fascinating, if I manage to stay awake!