Casey Anthony entered the courtroom at 8:34. She looked much better today and was wearing a yellow button-down shirt. Her hair was back in a bun, but her bangs were still going to cause her problems. When she approached the defense table, she spoke animatedly with hand gestures. (I'm wondering what happened between yesterday and today.)
The dark-haired lady who seems to have a good bond with Casey is mitigation specialist Rosalie Bolin.
Judge Perry was late this morning, not entering the courtroom until 8:40 and he was immediately addressed by Mr. Baez, who wanted to enter into the record daily newspapers from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. He wanted to do this to show the media coverage in the area and there are probably people out there who could be called for jury duty and would be tainted.
Baez also complained about microphones and 100% faulty reports of the "two-rear-old" comment (He said that he said "really"). He said that there are people out there who are violating attorney-client privilege because of "murmurs" overheard. He called them gross, false, and faulty speculation.
He felt that all microphones should be cut off except for the witness and the Court. Baez believed this is necessary because of the body language experts and lip readers are creating tabloid news.
Judge Perry indicated that he had turned off the microphone at the defense table and that those that remain on are there for a specific purpose: so that the court reporter can hear.
He also pointed out that they are in a public courtroom and the public has the right to hear the proceedings.
As for the media, Perry said, "this is America" and he has no control over that. He suggested that the defense complain to the management of the offending organizations to see if this reporting violates libel or slander laws. Perry also pointed out that this is difficult to prove because of the high-profile nature of the case.
He then asked to have the podium moved closer to the witness and have that microphone turned off. Again, Perry put the kibosh on that idea.
Perry then said that they have jurors waiting. He said that if Baez wanted to continue the discussion, he would limit his questions in voir dire!
(I'm sure these two issues will be brought up again!)
Baez backed down from that idea. Perry then stated that they had already cleared the row behind the defense table to provide them with a privacy zone.
Cheney Mason then asked the state to turn over any criminal records they had on the potential jurors. Perry told him that he could have made his own public records request by getting the complete list of jurors prior to his arrival in Pinellas County. According to Perry, there is nothing in the law that requires the state to turn these records over.
The first person questioned (1340) was remarkably uninformed about the case. What he remembered seemed to be mostly from the very beginning of the case. Under questioning by Linda Burdick, he admitted he was rather sheltered as he didn't watch such programs as Jane Velez Mitchell, Nancy Grace, and Geraldo Rivera, although he knew who he was! He only blogged about his daughter.
Jose Baez elicited nothing major from this juror candidate except that a co-worker mentioned the case was coming to Pinellas County but that he had no idea what case he was going to be called for.
Judge Perry then questioned about the death penalty and he “passed the test” Perry set for him. Then, Jeff Ashton asked him some questions and gave him some fine points of how to decide for the death penalty or life.
Ann Finnel questioned for the defense, and it was apparent that this man listens and thinks clearly about the issues.
All of this questioning took about an hour. Then, as Ann Finnel was questioning the prospective juror, all action stopped for about a half an hour while Judge Perry went out to check on case law that Ann Finnel was citing after an objection by the state. The juror was also sent out of the courtroom for the duration.
Apparently, Ms. Finnel wanted to discuss mitigating circumstances which the jury will have to consider in the trial. The judge told her that she could then continue. She wants to ask each juror whether or not the juror could consider each of the mitigation circumstances in this case to have an informed juror.
She read off a laundry list of mitigating factors that I will have to go and hunt down. Ashton read further in the decision. He did not want Finnel to try her case of mitigation prior to the trial by presenting case specific mitigation issues and as what they would consider prior to the actual trial.
Judge Perry says that the defense that the lawyer can ask if anything in the persons character or background to consider for mitigation. They cannot ask for the specifics.
The prospective juror was then called back to the courtroom to complete the voir dire.
Finally, general voir dire took place. Linda Burdick asked about the cameras in the courtroom. She asked about his concern about the media in the courtroom. She asked about his concern about the media in the courtroom. She also went into other aspects of the media following the trial.
He was asked about his employment, educational background, and his family. Also, a friend of his was the victim of a robbery and he was stabbed and killed about four years ago. He felt he could be fair in this trial because he is not personally involved. He was also asked if he knew people who had been involved in various sorts of crimes and if he had ever been involved in litigation. She also asked about his pets and if he knew about the training of service dogs. She then asked if he’d ever smelled human decomposition.
The defense then made their inquiry. Jose Baez asked questions to see if he could be the right juror for this case. Among the questions asked were, to ask him “who” he was, to describe himself.
Among the questions asked were, to ask him “who” he was, to describe himself. He asked if he wanted to be a juror on the case. He said that he liked mysteries and solving them. He wouldn't be happy being away from his friends and family, but would be willing to do so.
The questions went on to his view on the credibility of police officers, doctors, (think Vass). As we approached the 2 ½ hour mark of the questioning, Baez was still asking his questions about the man’s views on lying and keeping secrets.
This ended up being a mini-trial of sorts, with way too much repetitious questions.
The juror was excused at 12:03. Judge Perry reviewed the purpose of jury selection and is not a chance to pre-try the case (which is what Baez mostly did). He also said that if a juror was asked a legal concept and answers wrong, that is not a reason to strike him from the jury.
According to Judge Perry, all 37 jurors were going to be voir-dire'd today! With one taking more than 2 hours, that obviously wouldn't work. In summary, they have to hurry it up or Judge Perry will step in. Perry was also concerned that the court reporter needed to rest her hands.
The court only allowed a forty minute lunch, when they were still questioning the first juror. Baez continued questioning and he then asked if there were any questions that he was uncomfortable with and if he had other answers he wanted to expand on privately. Baez asked if he'd ever been arrested. He was, technically for a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt and for a fight in college he tried to break up and was dismissed.
He then asked the juror if he had anything else to say about himself. Fortunately, the question was objected to and denied.
Ann Finnel asked a few more questions as well. She asked if he would consider abuse, school record, employment record, dysfunctional family, brain development, and other such pieces of background information.
At this point, this gentleman was asked to step outside. Ann Finnel was questioned about her “laundry list” of mitigation factors. She was going to ask the juror if he would consider each one in the mitigation phase of the trial should Casey be convicted. The judge told her she could not conduct a mini-trial here and to make the questions more general in nature.
The juror was then called back into the room. When Finnel was finished with her questioning, neither the state nor the defense had any challenges for the witness. He was allowed to go home. He will have to come back tomorrow afternoon. The final jury pool had its first member.
The judge then stated that he wanted to finish all 36 odd jurors in the afternoon. Later on, reality struck and he called most of the jurors home, telling he work have them come back tomorrow morning.
Juror 1232 was up next. Linda Burdick quickly questioned him about his exposure to the media which was minimal. He works nights and is at work prior to prime time. In the morning, he mainly watched cartoons with his children.
Jose Baez then questioned him and took a bit less time than before. One question that was objected to at the end was when he asked the juror how he though he had done in his questioning!
When Ann Finnell came up to question about the death penalty factors, she started asking a series of questions which were totally inappropriate. One of the offending questions was when she asked him if he knew the cost of keeping a person in prison for life vs. the death penalty. The juror was removed from the courtroom for a short time while Judge Perry told her they were not to be asked. They two debated it, but in the end, the judge stood firm. The juror then returned for further questioning.
Ann Finnell then asked that the juror be stricken because Perry had admonished her in front of the judge. The judge refused to do that and after some more questioning, he was approved and is now the second juror to return on Friday.
Potential juror 1129 was then called in. Of the three we have seen, he had the most exposure to the media. He said that he had reached an opinion about the. He also said that he didn't believe in the death penalty. When Judge Perry explained that the decision to impose the death penalty was set down for consideration based on the laws and not beliefs, the juror said he could sentence someone to death. When questioned by Jose Baez, he said it could be “blocked”. In other words, he could put aside his previous pre-conceived notions and base his decision.
Ann Finnel made it through her questioning with no problems with the judge.
Frank George then asked him some personal questions. He said that the only people he would talk about the trial with was his family.
Cheney Mason was up last to question the juror. He wanted to know if the potential juror had any legal training. He said he did paralegal studies in 1992 to 1993. He went to work with an insurance company in research. He had an internship in a one-person law office and he did criminal work. He worked there for a couple of months.
He then zeroed in on the time-frame when he reached an opinion that Casey was probably, guilty early on in the case. He hadn't thought much about it until Monday of this week. He followed some other high-profile cases such as that of Joran VanDerSloot.
Obviously, Cheney is concerned about this opinion!
Mason also questioned that if he would believe a police officer over someone else.
(This tells us that they are going to be accusing some police officer of lying!
He said he had no opinion as to whether or not he wanted to be on the jury.
The state had no challenge, the defense challenged for cause (pre-trial publicity).
Jose Baez went through the gentleman's testimony that he had an "extensive" knowledge of the case and that he can't say if he would follow the law in the case of the death of the child. He also testified very positively towards law enforcement officers.
Linda Burdick spoke for the state and said that juror 1129 said he could set aside his preconceived notions and judge the case on the evidence presented.
The judge denied the challenge, speaking eloquently to each point the defense made citing case law from memory. Juror 1120 became the third to join the juror pool!
Juror 1398 was the next called for voir-dire.
She had heard about this case. Most of her knowledge was from 2008 and she "has a life" and she hadn't follow it closely. She doesn't get a newspaper, and doesn't go to websites. She got her information "in the background" through snips of news and conversation.
She mainly follows local news and CNN. She's not a fan of HLN and Nancy Grace. She hasn't had conversations about the case.
She has a healthy understanding that media news is tailored for sound-bites and the concept of guilt and innocence is complex.
She told Judge Perry that she could judge the case solely on the law and the evidence.
She is a counselor and said that she thought she could use the skills she uses there in a court of law. She could lay aside what she knows to follow the law.
Linda Burdick questioned her and was finished in about three minutes.
Jose Baez started out the same as he has done before. He asked how she got her news, she indicated that she watched a little in the morning.
She is cynical about the media, with their blurbs. She will be 68 soon and has been in touch with real life. The difference between what she saw in real life and then in the news, it didn't jive. She doesn't depend on the news for truth. (Smart lady!)
Judge Perry then discussed the possibility of the death penalty. She said that she values life and the criminal justice system. She hasn't had strong passions one way or another. She believed that the evidence would have to be carefully considered before giving the death penalty.
Judge Perry then explained how mitigating and aggravating circumstances are used. It would be by law that the death penalty be imposed. She would be willing to impose the death penalty or life without parole.
Jeff Ashton spoke to her next and explained the bifurcated trial in a death penalty phase.
Ann Finnel then got up and asked her questions. Needless to say, we've heard them before, but she has learned to stay away from the no-no questions and shorten up her questions a little.
The state then went on to general voir dire. (One thing to note is that she has served on murder cases before. Usually, people with jury experience don't get called in subsequent ones.)
Burdick asked her some questions about her experiences which were in the 90's.
I noticed that, when talking about crimes among people she knew, if she had any circumstances where sexual crimes were not reported. (I would think she picked that up from Ann Finnel earlier.)
This witness has been present at many deaths and gotten bodies ready to go to the morgue. She never was in contact with a body in an advanced stage of decomposition.
Jose Baez said he will go quickly since Ms. Burdick already asked a lot of his questions. He did question her views on "reasonable doubt" and if the standards are to high or too low. She answered that she would say they have to be high.
We came back live after dinner sandwiches. Judge Perry was in a very good mood after having the break. He called Juror 1398 back to the stand. Baez had one final question for her. He wanted to know if she had some reservations about finding Ms. Anthony not guilty, would she have problems with other people giving her trouble over the decision. (I suppose he doesn't want a jury that will find her guilty so that they aren't harassed.)
She was asked to step outside of the room and both sides agreed to keep her. Juror finalist four has been chosen!
Juror 1152 is called in. He works for a group of dentists who wrote the policy not allowing for jury pay! He was called back in case he could get pay. He brought a letter from the primary owner of the practice which said that would not receive any compensation for jury duty. He was then excused for hardship.
Judge Perry then placed time limits on the scope of general voir dire and instruct them to move on. He said that they seemed to have a pace down and things are moving along better this morning. If they are thrown a "curve ball" and cut them off.
The state said they would need 15 minutes and the defense said 30 minutes for general voir dire. Therefore, both sides will be allowed 30 minutes for general voir dire questions.
Then, he asked Linda Burdick about her questions about the ability of the jurors to smell something. It would seem there are still unopened cans that the jury could use in the trial. The judge pointed out that lay opinion testimony has to have a foundation laid prior to giving testimony. Jurors are not witnesses. He suggested that she look up any applicable case law.
Jeff Ashton pointed out that everyone has smelled garbage and the fresh can test could tell it did not smell like garbage.
The judge was still not convinced. It will be interesting to see what the state comes up with to have this happen.
Court was finally adjourned at 7:33 PM.
While Ann Finnel was not allowed to go down her laundry list of mitigating factors, she did read them to the judge. Here is the complete list, that is, until Judge Perry interrupted her.
-Her age at the time
-Her lack of maturity
-Her lack of impulse control
-History of sexual abuse
-Suffers from insomnia and nightmares
-Lack of parental guidance
-Mother and father failed to protect her as a child
-Emotionally and verbally abused as a child
-She was taught poor coping skills and has poor coping skills by normal standards
-She was taught to project false appearance -She was used as a decoy or pawn by her parents and a scapegoat for parental misconduct
-Her conduct in school was good
-Her grades were better than average
-She participated in sports
-When employed, she was a good, hard working employee
-She loved Caylee and Caylee loved her
-She has been a good detainee at the jail awaiting trial
The items in bold have to come from Casey Anthony via her doctors and mitigation specialists. This is the sort of information the defense wanted introduced by the doctors in their case-in-chief. When that didn’t work, they made a motion that this information be introduced by other witnesses. The fact is, the only way this testimony can come in to the guilt phase of the trial is if Casey herself testifies. The stories behind these factors are more than likely those things that Cheney Mason said would make people’s jaws drop.
I have to wonder if George and Cindy Anthony were watching when these came out. I’m sure their jaws would have dropped.
Another interesting fact we learned today is that the state is trying to find a way to get the jurors to take a whiff of previously un-opened cans which contain the carpet remnants from Casey’s car!
Court will be in session again at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Let’s hope Judge Perry keeps a close watch on the time and we finish all the remaining prospective jurors tomorrow!
It would seem that Saturday will be left for peremptory challenges. Let’s hope that they get their 20 jurors then.