Jose Baez seemed to be in a good mood, even though he was clutching his pen for dear life.
Judge Perry called court to order at 8:30 on the dot. They were taking the hardship cases first.
Juror 1123 indicated that he doesn't want to miss his son's high school graduation and a vacation planned as a graduation trip. He also said that he followed the case a lot and says he'd already formed the opinion that Casey is guilty.
The judge pointed out that the defense had objected to excusing the juror last time. Jose Baez withdrew his objection and he was excused.
Juror 1050 brought in a hardship letter from his employer. He is being trained on a network for the call centers for police and fire. If he were not to be trained, there would be nobody to do his job. He is obviously going to be an essential worker in hurricane season. He had already heard about the trial and had formed the opinion that Casey is guilty.
He was also excused. The defense originally objected to this gentleman being excused because of the hardship but withdrew it and he is also excused.
Juror 1246 was up next. His hardship was financial and he takes care of a number of dogs. He also had a lot of heart surgery in recent times. He can only sit for 15-20 minutes at a time. Under questioning, he could not afford to board all seven dogs. When asked about the case, he said that he had formed an opinion that Casey Anthony is guilty. He was excused as well. Again, it was the defense that originally objected to this juror being dismissed for hardship as well!
I missed the next juror's number. His hardship was that he lives alone with pets. He said he has two cats. He was the juror whose son didn't do a good job with them. As with the previous jurors, he said that he had formed an opinion on the case about Casey's guilt and didn't know if he could set his opinions aside. He really doesn't want to be on the jury. He was also excused.
Next up was juror 1375. He was the one who had anniversary plans with his wife. He said that he realized he had a civic responsibility. He said he had followed the case a lot since the beginning. Again, he said he had formed an opinion about Casey's guilt. He didn't think he could set it aside. He was excused.
I am glad that Jeff Ashton suggested they have the judge first ask if the prospective juror has formed an unchangeable opinion on Casey's guilt. It should make the process go much faster.
Next was juror 1407. He said that he heard about the case when it came out, but didn't pay attention. He heard it was on the other side of the state. He didn't recall any details of the case.
He had not formed any opinion about Casey Anthony's guilt or innocence in the case.
He went through all the questioning as we've seen before. He is a student and doesn't spend a lot of time inside in his spare time.
The only problems for this juror seemed to be that he had some legal problems in Tennessee he didn't report on the form and the fact that he has a stepfather in jail and an uncle who was jailed for bad checks many years ago.
Jose Baez asked to have this juror dismissed for age. Judge Perry explained that he changed his mind after learning the law. Baez also said the lying on the form should exclude him. The motion was denied by the judge and the defense didn't use their peremptory challenge at this time. He became number nine to make it to the finals.
After juror 1407 was finished, Judge Perry called a brief recess. When everybody was back in the courtroom, Jose Baez asked to speak at the bench about the previous juror.
When he resumed the bench, Perry again discussed the "mercy' question today. The issue is very fluid and confusing.
Juror 1392 was next to be called. He said that he had heard about the case. He had heard about it on general news reports, the basically what the case was about, not any details. He recalled the name and first degree murder. He knew that the only thing he knew about the case was the murder case until he came into court Monday.
He felt Nancy Grace was opinionated and moved on from her program after hearing her mention Casey's hair-flipping and pencil-moving. He is apparently a channel-flipper, catching bits and pieces while listening while on his computer.
Otherwise, he seemed to be a pretty blank slate about the case.
He said that he had no opinion about Casey's guilt or innocence.
This juror seemed to have a hardship due to financial issues. He does odd jobs. The judge informed him of the money he would receive for jury duty. He would have to decide if that money will cover his bills. He stated that he felt that the jury fees would probably be sufficient.
He was extensively questioned by Frank George about his posting on Facebook that he had been called for jury duty on Monday. He responded to some of the posts and "joked" about writing a book.
The state objected to this juror, based on his violation of the court order about making comments about the case. The defense had no objection for this juror, but Judge Perry excused him for cause.
Juror number 1394 said that she knew there was a mother who was accused of murdering her child. She had also read some reports about other family members. She didn't watch any hearing or see the attorneys in the media.
She stated that she had an opinion based on the charges read in court about Casey. She had lost a son in a car crash. It was her conviction that not cooperating with the investigation would make her think Casey was guilty. She did not think she could overcome her opinion.
She was dismissed with cause.
Juror 1361 took the stand next. Judge Perry asked the attorneys doing the voir dire to approach and read a document.
Apparently, it was a hardship letter from his employer.
He was dismissed as well.
According to Judge Perry, the latest plan was that when they got to the magic number of 15, it would be his intention to bring them in and have them sworn in. The state and defense have the opportunity to back strike prior to the swearing in. Perry made it sound like a race in that the attorneys will have to make them prior to the swearing in. (I'm wondering if he will settle for fewer alternate jurors to speed the process along.)
Jury selection was to continue at 12:30 when the next group of prospective jurors are to come in.
Court was called back into session at 12:31 PM.
The first juror called was the one who was sent home with food poisoning yesterday. He was number 1167 and he said that he was feeling better.
He said that he had heard about the case in the past, mainly from television. The events he remembered were from three years ago. He only remembered that the victim was found several months later. He knew it was a child and that the mother was accused. He didn't know the charges until they were read in court.
He also remembered that the victim was wrapped in a plastic bag or a carpet. He remembered there were indications in the trunk of the car dealing with decomposition. After much thought, he remembered that she apparently doesn't get along with her mother and the state is paying her expenses.
He said he was not overly interested in this type of news and did not follow it closely. He fast-forwarded through the topic if it was on TIVO. He listens to German and English news for the most part.
He stated that he would assume that Casey was innocent until proven guilty per the judge's instructions. Prior to that, he had no opinion. He said that he could put aside this knowledge and only use the evidence presented in court and the law.
He also said he would have to make a decision to the exclusion of all doubt. Perry then read the definition of "reasonable doubt" and the man said that he could abide by that definition.
He indicated that he is opposed to the death penalty and could not find her guilty of murder in the first degree if the death penalty were a possibility. He would automatically vote against the death penalty in spite of any instructions.
There were no questions for him from either side since he could not impose the death penalty. The state had no objection although Ann Finnel stated that she had objections based on previous motions. He was excused over the defense objection.
Juror number 1251 said that the first she heard about the case on Monday when she heard the trial was being moved to Pinellas county. Upon further questioning, she said she had heard some information about it earlier. If it happened to be on TV (no cable), she would watch it.
When asked to see what she saw in news accounts, she said that in 2008 she heard about the fact there was a missing child. She remembered images of certain faces. Her next recollection was that the child had been found and that there were questions. After that, there was nothing else she could recall.
She said that she had no opinion about Casey's innocence or guilt because she didn't have enough information about the case.
Jose Baez brought up that she is the grandmother of a two-year-old child. (This is the sort of thing the defense wouldn't like.) She told Baez that she could put aside her personal experiences to focus on the facts of the case.
She indicated that she is a teacher of gifted children and teaches them critical thinking skills. She felt that these skills would allow her to do so.
When Judge Perry broached the topic of the death penalty, she said that she is not opposed to it. She said she could follow the law in determining an appropriate penalty based on the law.
After a ten minute break, the lawyers questioned her. Jeff Ashton brought up one of the aggravating factors was the age of the child. He started to ask if having a granddaughter of about the same age... when he was interrupted by an objection from Ann Finnel.
They went to a side bar and spoke for a few minutes. When Ashton returned to the podium and completed his question. Could she keep an open mind considering the circumstances? She said that she could deal with the situation fairly as she considered the age similarity a coincidence and she saw her granddaughter only once or twice a year.
Ms. Finnel's presentation was what we have become accustomed to.
On Ms. Finnel's scale of 1-10, this prospective juror felt she was an 8.
Finnel then got into the age mitigation and the juror answered "no." It was clear she was applying the factor in different ways than other jurors had.
As Jeff Ashton objected and the judge began to speak, the feed went down. (I suppose we will have to wait to see what happened with this.) Ms. Finnel has tried to box a number of jurors in this way and has mainly failed once Judge Perry explained what the law was.
When we returned, they were on to victim impact statements.
This voir dire has gone on for nearly two hours at this point. With two and a half hours left, we will never get to Judge Perry's magic number of fifteen.
The state had no questions for general voir dire while Jose Baez had to get up and charm this prospective juror.
He brought up a possible hardship issue with her job. (Again we lost the feed.) It had something to do with paperwork on a house sale. At this point, she said she would receive 15 days paid leave. Her contract ends May 9 and she will still receive pay (10 month employee paid over 12 months). Therefore, she had no financial hardship.
Baez then went on to ask her if she would feel compelled that if she found his client guilty of some charge, such as lying to LE, would she feel she had to find her guilty of other charges. She said she didn't.
This is a new tack Baez is taking. I don't know why, but he seems to be prolonging an already long voir dire.
At this point, Linda Burdick objected to the line of questioning but the judge permitted the juror to answer Baez' questions.
The attorneys then went up to a side bar.
After a few more minutes of ponderous questioning by Mr. Baez, the juror was asked to wait outside. The defense had no challenge, nor did the state. She becomes prospective juror number ten.
There are loud thunderstorms in Orlando. The thunder is so loud it can be clearly heard in the courtroom. This explains why we keep losing the feed.
I lost the feed, and when it came back, there was a man being questioned. He apparently knew the name of Casey Anthony. He had heard people talking about Nancy Grace talking about the case. He pretty much tuned out the conversations since he had no interest in the case.
His father lives in Orlando and is currently trying to get into Valencia College there. Looking at my list from the other day, this should be juror 1001.
The feed went out again, but by this point, Frank George was questioning him about the media which made me assume he made it past the phase that he has not made up his mind about Casey's guilt.
He was then questioned by Jose Baez, who kept insisting that it was the Nancy Grace Entertainment Show!
He passed the death penalty section and was then questioned by Jeff Ashton. He wanted to let Ann Finnel go first because they ask a lot of the same questions. The judge didn't allow this. His main concern was that, at the age of 21, he had the life experience to make such a decision. He believed age was not relevant.
Ann Finnel questioned next. We've heard her questions before! By the way, he scored himself "somewhere in the middle" of her infamous 1-10 scale.
Juror 1001 did answer one question wrong in that he would expect a person to take the stand in their own behalf in the trial. He did say, once told the law, that he could subordinate his feelings to the rule of law.
There was a 5 minute break before the rest of the voir dire took place.
Frank George managed to find a Twitter by this young man speaking badly of the Orlando police. He explained that he was involved in a hit-and-run accident and the police never came. He did say he no longer feels that way and he had had positive interactions with police since then, both at work and in the courthouse this past week.
Jose Baez was next. He confirmed that this prospective juror is 1001, or 101 to Mr. Baez.
Baez started with the "who are you" question to learn about his interests. Then, he began to go through fine details of how each and every element of a crime must be proven to find a verdict of guilty. He also went into a very long ramble about reasonable doubt, at which point Frank George objected, asking if there was a question in there somewhere.
There was another bench conference and then Baez returned to continue talking about reasonable doubt. (There's no reason to go into every single process in the trial, bit by bit, rule, by rule, to determine a jurors fitness to serve.) Essentially, Jose was asking if this young man can follow the judge's instructions!
This does seem to be a new ploy to delay, delay, delay.
The prospective juror stepped outside and the state moved to strike him due to his bias against LE and that he lied on the form about the traffic incident. (The judge told him to forget about that.) George also said that he changed his opinions about LE from the beginning to the end of his testimony. The state used a peremptory challenge to strike the juror. Jose Baez asked for a Batson challenge based on his age.
Judge Perry told Baez that there was nothing about age in Mr. George's challenge and, at Baez' request, asked him again about his objection. He ruled that the state had a rational basis for striking the juror and it wasn't for age. Juror 1001 is out. The total remained at 10.
Next we had Juror 1429. She had heard about some of the earlier details of the crime from 2008 from the newspapers and television. She said she hadn't talked to anyone about the case. She said that she could not make a decision about the case until she had the facts.
It took Jeff Ashton no more than five minutes to find out that she is retired and doesn't get out much. She doesn't have a computer.
Jose Baez, was next to ask about her media exposure to the case. (I didn't get to see all of it, the video conked out again.)
When the feed returned, Judge Perry was asking her about her feelings about the death penalty. She said she thought she believed in it, but would have to know more facts. When given the law, She "passed" the death penalty portion of voir dire.
Jeff Ashton had one question for her and Ann Finnel went her usual nine yards.
Jeff Ashton ferreted out that she had one son and one grandson who had police records. She was apparently arrested in 1999 on a DUI. She said that she was never convicted.
Jose Baez started with the usual "who are you" question. She didn't have much to say. She also served on a criminal case jury before, although she was not the foreman.
The juror was asked to step out and Jeff Ashton said that the adjudication on the DUI was withheld. There were no challenges and we have number eleven!
Judge Perry said that there were four more prospective jurors left. Juror 1311 is a hardship situation (hardware store owner). He produced a letter from the other co-owner, his father.
The juror was excused for hardship.
There was then a brief recess and court reconvened at 5:28.
Judge Perry informed everyone that there would only be one more juror today. The other two consented to come back on Monday.
He was then questioned by Jose Baez, who kept insisting that it was the Nancy Grace Entertainment Show!
(My friend, Sedonia Sunset had a great comment about that:
I thought it was kind of funny that the current PJ said that he thought life experience was irrelevant. Only someone with very little life experience would think that life experience is irrelevant. It's a catch-22 kind of question, but only someone with a lot of life experience would even realize that it's a catch-22.
The last juror was number 1119. He said that he mainly followed the headlines and short blurbs in the news. Most of his knowledge involved the basics, pretty much what they were told in court on Monday.
He said he knew there was a vehicle involved, that the body was stored there. He didn't read anything but the headlines in news publications and didn't watch Nancy or Geraldo. He didn't see 48 Hours.
He said that he had conversations about the case in 2008, but he can't remember what was discussed.
He overheard some conversations recently where most of the opinions were of guilt. He didn't remember doing any internet searches on the Case.
He said that he had come to the conclusion that she was guilty, based on reading the headlines. However, he said that he could put aside that opinion and be fair in the trial.
He also said that under the constitution, she is innocent until proven guilty.
He said he formed his opinion based on the headlines. The judge had said at the beginning that people are innocent instead of proven guilty and he had the week in the jury room to think about that.
As to factual knowledge, he named Casey, a child, the car, and Orlando.
He said that he doesn't necessarily believe the news which says some people say that Donald Trump is an alien and Elvis is in Graceland! It had to be the comment of the day!
With that, Cheney Mason was finished.
Judge Perry then broached the death penalty issue.
He said that he had thought long and hard about the death penalty since it was brought up on Monday and that he could not form an opinion about it.
After Judge Perry gave his explanation, the juror said that he would do what is proper under the law. He passed the death penalty test.
Jeff Ashton had no questions, but Ann Finnel did her usual routine.
On Finell's scale, he ended up being a 5. concerning the death penalty.
As she questioned him, he seemed to have a tendency to form opinions quickly and then, when necessary, go back and think more deeply about it and change his opinion.
An interesting example of this is when he was asked if he believed in "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". He said he originally agreed with it but had changed his mind since Monday.
He used the term "cloudied up" about his mind as to any number of situations.
This guy scares me a lot! He is all over the place.
Linda Burdick questioned the juror on general issues. She asked him to tell her a little about himself. He discussed his age, marital status, children, and occupation. He'd been called for jury duty before and had never gotten to voir dire. He said that he'd saw a leg off first.
He mentioned that he had a family member who was the victim of a time, a sibling who had been robbed at gunpoint several years ago.
Cheney Mason completed the voir dire. He asked the juror if he was sure if he could follow the judge's instructions. He said that he could. For some reason, Mason kept questioning about if it were better to let a guilty person go free rather than an innocent person go to jail. This was objected to by Linda Burdick.
Finally, the juror said he did not want to be on the jury and cited his reasons. If called, he would serve.
The defense didn't challenge him, nor did the state. The total at the end of the day is 12.
Court will resume jury selection on Monday at 8:30.
See you all in court then. Enjoy your day off!