Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Casey Anthony entered the courtroom at 8:27 this morning wearing a black button-down shirt with taupe pants. Throughout the morning session she mainly wore a serious expression which seemed to indicate that she realized that jury selection would come to an end and her trial would begin somewhere in the near future.
Judge Perry took the bench at 8:30 sharp and called the session to order.
Jose Baez said that he has a motion first. Linda Burdick said that they had no notice of the motion. Baez explained is an oral motion and Ms. Frier(sp?), Cheney Mason's assistant, was to present it.
The judge reminded the defense that they were supposed to start jury selection and were not to be surprised when he made them stay late today.
Not surprisingly, the defense was objecting to the method of jury selection. Judge Perry told him that he had set the rules a long time ago. Ms. Frier pointed out that there was a "magic" number they were supposed to reach before there were peremptory strikes.
Perry reminded her that there was no precise number that was "magic" and Ms. Fryer stated that it was 18.
She was now challenging the issue of swearing of 12 jurors prior to selecting alternates.
The judge pointed out that the defense would only get one challenge for alternates.
She also stated that swearing the 12 in would "separate" the jury from the alternates and the identity of the alternates would be obvious.
The judge did not seem unduly concerned about the issue. Knowing Judge Perry, he knows the law and knows exactly what he is doing is not putting the case in jeopardy.
Essentially, Frier expanded the argument given by Jose Baez yesterday.
Perry said that this court had exceeded the guidelines for the number of jurors called for a capital case.
It was so obvious that Perry was ready for this with all the case law he had in front of him.
Jeff Ashton spoke to clarify the record. He said that the rules the judge had put out were even more strict than what was happening now. The rules, according to Ashton, supported the judge's contentions and he cited case law to back his view of the situation.
Not surprisingly, Perry denied the motion. I'm sure the defense will be happy to have this issue on appeal.
In making his decision, Judge Perry spoke eloquently about the nature of the trial. It would be more that worth one's time to watch the first part of the hearing when it comes out.
At this point, there were 16 people left to question.
Judge Perry then advised the attorneys that juror 3283 accidentally walked into court and heard about 20 seconds worth of counsel's argument. Essentially the judge said, "I told you so!"
Jose Baez suggested that they bring in 3283 to question him about what he knew.
The juror said he was only in the courtroom briefly. When he sat down, the bailiff pulled him out immediately. He said that he hadn't heard anything. He said that he was given wrong directions downstairs.
Judge Perry then asked about his knowledge of the case. He said he doesn't have a computer and that, while he heard about the case, he didn't remember anything he had read in the newspaper.
He said he only knew that a young woman was on trial for the death of a young child. He recalled none of the details.
He said that he read about the case in the St. Pete Times and saw bits and pieces on TV. The only image he recalled was that of Ms. Anthony. He only remembered seeing a brief head shot.
People at work did not discuss the case and neither did he.
Juror 3283 said he had not formed any opinion about Casey's guilt or innocence. He indicated that he could set aside what little he knew about the case.
He said that he could presume her innocent until proven guilty by the totality of the evidence.
Linda Burdick questioned for the state. This gentleman was on the list for yesterday, but didn't have gas to get to the courthouse.
He said that, at his job, there are 32 TV's and they are on all the time. He moves around. It is a member survey of sorts where the members choose the channels. He said that what was shown was mainly Fox and CNN. Amazingly, he doesn't have a television at home.
Juror 3283 did not discuss the case, only his preparations to be away for 6-8 weeks if chosen.
Under questioning, he knew the names of Caylee and Casey Anthony.
Jose Baez inquired for the defense. He had one quick question about the televisions at work. As I suspected, they are only background noise he hears as he goes about doing his job.
Judge Perry then went through the death penalty questions. He stated that he had no opinion, but had thought of the seriousness of it.
He also said that he would follow the law concerning decisions about the case. He also said that he could recommend the death penalty or life in prison based on the law.
Jeff Ashton asked his questions and asked if he would want to be on the jury. He said that he did because, "why not?". He said that if he were to be chosen, he would just do it. After a few more questions, he finally said that if he was chosen, he would serve.
I have a great respect for Ann Finnel and her role in this trial. However, having heard her presentation how many times, I prefer to shorten this section to the Finnel Test.
When asked the ruler question, he answered that he was neutral. He appeared to pass this test.
There was a 10 minute recess prior to the general voir dire.
Linda Burdick did the general voir dire for the state. We learned that juror 3283 is 42 and is single. He has never been married and has no children. He was born and raised in Pinellas County. He has 3 siblings. None of them has children. His parent are still living and still together.
He served as a juror once within the past ten years. It was a case of insurance fraud, a two-day trial. In that trial, there was no expert testimony.
When asked if he or a member of his family has been accused of a crime, he said that he would prefer to speak in private.
When they returned, it came out that he is working on a BS in nursing with a minor in chemistry. Since graduating from high school, he has been a personal trainer, composer, and playwright. He is in the process of publishing 20 years of music.
He works in the wellness center of BayCare. In the past, he played piano in public.
Jose Baez then interviewed the juror. He started out with his usual little speech. Then, he went on to do the Jury Instruction Test. This juror seemed to pass the test.
Prior to any decision about this juror, Judge Perry discussed with Baez how they will continue with the jury selection based on the time taken and the fact that they have no place in Pinellas after tomorrow.. Should they pack up and start again in Orlando?
Baez said that he still wanted to speak with the 15 additional jurors before they exercise their challenges.
He wanted Baez input. He proposed that they get to work and get through all the jurors.
The judge spent a great deal of time explaining the realities of the situation.
The state asked for a 5 minute break to discuss the sidebar concerning Juror 3283 before making a recommendation on this juror.
Court was called to order at 11:05 (after a long 5 minutes) and immediately went to side bar.
Whatever the issue with this juror is, it seemed to be causing quite a bit of consternation for the prosecution.
When the court met again, juror 3283 was dismissed with a peremptory challenge by the state and was not opposed by the defense.
In addition, Judge Perry said that he had spoken with the Chief Judge of Pinellas County and they can use the courtroom for Friday and Saturday. 9:AM Monday, opening statements will commence IF they have a jury.
Court was in recess until 1 PM for lunch.
The state has 4 remaining challenges and the defense 1.
Casey Anthony re-entered the courtroom at 1:07.
During lunch, I was reading around and there were a lot of questions as to who the new lady is and what happened to Rosalie Bolin. Was there too much bad publicity?
Judge Perry entered the courtroom an 1:09 and we were back in business, although without sound.
Then, everyone stood up and Casey exited the courtroom with her ever-attentive guard.
I tuned into InSession and Vinnie Politan said that something big was going down. The judge said something about Cheney Mason talking to his client "about that matter" and then dismissed everyone until tomorrow at 8:30.
They then mentioned possibilities as to what the issue is. One of the main "guesses" was that the defense might file an interlocutory appeal about the jury selection. Apparently, Jose Baez was not even in the courtroom!
I suppose we will find out tomorrow morning. If I learn anything concrete, I will post an update.
See you in court tomorrow! Be there at 8:30 sharp to see what is going on.