Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Judge Perry Does A Balancing Act

Not so happy campers

May 3, 2011
4:37 PM

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that "The Associated Press and a number of non-local news organizations have appealed Chief Judge Belvin Perry's order governing pre-notification of the jury selection venue in the Casey Anthony trial.The appeal is significant because it could lead to a delay in the start of the high-profile murder trial's jury selection, which is scheduled to commence Monday morning.

Let's hope the judges on the appellate court make a quick decision tomorrow!


Yesterday's hearing focused on one motion, and one motion only. It was the Emergency Motion To Intervene filed by the media, namely, WOFL FOX 35, WKMG, WPTV, WFTS, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspaper, CF News 13, and the AP.

The point of contention is the Confidentiality Agreement that media organizations must sign in order to find out the venue ahead of time.

Attorney Judith Mercier, representing the media, made her arguments to Judge Perry. She was citing the first amendment rights of the media to free and unfettered information available under the Florida "Sunshine" laws.

It was obvious from the get-go that Judge Perry was not in a good mood. He peppered her arguments against prior restraint with such questions as:

"How many capital cases have you tried?" (None)

"How many capital jury cases have you attempted to select a jury in?"

He asked her to name any case with more media attention than this one? (Mercier couldn't, although she did remember they were in other cities.)

When asked by Perry if she could provide a way that the pre-trial publicity could be counter-acted, Mercier replied that extensive juror voir-dire would do the trick.

When asked for another remedy, Mercier mentioned a continuance of the trial. A six-month "cooling off period" would wipe the memories of the case from people's minds.

Judge Perry reminded her that memories don't age as well as fine wine and that Casey Anthony was indicted in October, 2008. In addition, should a witness die, their deposition would not be used at trial time.

When asked for a third remedy, Ms. Mercier went back to voire-dire.

This presentation by Ms. Mercier was very contentious and Judge Perry asked some terrific questions. It is something that has to be seen to be appreciated.

It is fascinating that an attorney representing the media can't answer what a legal analyst role is for the station she is representing!

When the argument for the motion ended, Judge Perry asked Jose Baez if he agreed with the motion. Baez said, "no." He then asked Baez to explain why he had asked for a change of venue and the research he had conducted.

The second part of the hearing was mainly an extensive speech by Perry prior to denying the motion. It is an eloquent explanation of the current media situation. There are no longer just newspapers and television stations. There is the internet, which spreads knowledge at lightning speed. Again, it is well worth listening to. It begins at approximately 19 minutes into Part 2 of the hearing.

If you didn't watch the hearing live, it is a complete summary of the problems he has faced in finding a fair and impartial jury so that Casey Anthony can have a fair trial. His key point was that he wanted to keep the location secret until the potential jurors were in the courthouse and had been instructed to not follow the media or go on the internet about the case.

He said that he was not denying the public the information that they craved. The jury selection will be televised live from moment one. InSession has agreed to sign the confidentiality agreement and will be set to broadcast. WFTV has also signed the agreement, so we know Kathi Belich will be there. The Orlando Sentinel has not signed the agreement but did not join in the motion. In my opinion, those stations that do not want to sign the agreement won't miss a moment of coverage. WFOL35 and WKMG will be streaming the trial live and their reporters can easily tune in on their laptops while making the one to one-and-a-half hour drive to the courthouse in question.

This judge, who has consistently ruled in favor of the media in their motions, as well as Judge Strickland (who only denied the release the jail video) have been fair. Now, Judge Perry had to balance out the situation. He had to weigh the first amendment rights of the media against Casey Anthony's sixth amendment rights to a fair trial. Today, the scales weighed in for Ms. Anthony.

In the judge's own words, "The news coverage of this case has been unprecedented in the history of Florida and maybe even dwarfs the coverage that was given to O.J. Simpson."

What I find interesting is that most talking heads and legal analysts in this case have agreed with the judge. I watched it on InSession on through the evening program. Here are two of the comments that appeared online.

Bill Sheaffer (WFTV): "I don’t believe an appeal would be successful."

Retired Judge O.H. Eaton, who is WESH’s legal analyst, said the conditions of Perry’s conf
identiality agreement sound fair. Eaton predicted that Perry’s decision won’t be overturned and there won’t be a delay in the trial.

One of the most interesting aspects of the hearing was that nobody appeared to be happy. There were no smiles or smirks from Casey or Jose Baez. In fact, they listened to the back-and-forth between Judge Perry and Ms. Mercier with rather gloomy countenances. However, when the judge made his statement prior to denying the motion, Casey Anthony and her mother Cindy became visibly upset. Some people believe that Casey was crying real tears this time (I didn't see any.). It should be noted that Casey had a meltdown when the judge mentioned the difficulty of finding an unbiased jury.

I have no way to fathom what goes on in someone's mind, but there must have been something bothering everybody that day.

Perhaps I can understand Judge Perry's apparent short temper. He made it clear that he had more important issues, such as the LAST motion to deal with. He even tossed the offending motion and memorandum on the bench to prove his point.

I would love to hear your opinions as to why Casey had a meltdown and why Cindy looked very shaken up.

Also, what was Jose Baez thinking?

Watch The Hearing

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Casey Brought To Tears As Judge Denies Media Motion
Casey Anthony: Is the coverage unprecedented? Judge says it is


crim 310 said...

Ritanita, your summary of yesterday's hearing was spot on. What I saw yesterday was unmitigated defeat. Baez looks as if he is out of options. Casey looks like she's finally grasping the gravity of the situation. Mason looks like a man who failed to sell a compromise and Cindy, well as ever, I see unmitigated rage.

ritanita said...

Crim 304,

Nothing I can write can totally summarize all that occurred! I was impressed that Judge Perry got all his arguments into the transcript of the hearing in case of appeal.

I don't think the average trial-watcher will be too happy if they do.

Darcy said...

Great summary, as usual.

One question - has it been confirmed anywhere that jury selection will actually be broadcast? I've never seen it done before and am not sure that it's even legal to video the voire dire process -- and maybe more importantly (having been through it once) it is like watching paint dry! SO time consuming and SO boring - maybe a few moments of interest but overall I wouldn't tune in for it.

Anonymous said...

Like Crim 304, I think that the reality of the situation is really hitting Casey with the trial starting next week (jury selection).

"If" the death of Caylee was not intentional or was an accident, then Casey sure dug her self into a big hole (possibility of a death sentence) with all of her lies and cover-ups!

Cindy looked extremely tense to the point of shaking. I think that besides rage, she's scared too.


Darcy said...

And to answer YOUR question, my gut feeling is that all of sudden this has become very, very real to Cindy and KC. When you're involved in pretrial it's really easy to get caught up in the process and forget it's a means to an end - the trial. All the motions and arguments - it's sort of like watching a reality show. And both Cindy and KC have proven that they are masters of delusion... they are not plugged into how real it is. But it starts next week and they aren't "viewers" - it's their reality and they should be (if they haven't been up to now) scared out of their tiny little minds.

AllthewayforHillary said...

For the first time, it appears as if Baez and Casey are taking the trial seriously. About time.

I also did not feel that Casey was crying. It looked like she was trying very hard to cry. I know when I cry, even quietly, my face turns red, my nose runs, my chin quivers and huge tears leak out of my eyes. I saw no tears but Casey sure made a pretense of "wiping her eyes" like there were really tears there. There were none. Is she trying her poor little me, feel sorry for me routine?

Cindy looked just plain mad. She was scowling and her lips were in a thin, pursed line.

One of them is going to come unglued during the trial.

Anonymous said...

Great summary. My thoughts about Casey's breakdown is that jury selection is a week away and this stuff is REAL. It's SERIOUS. Casey might be, as Crim304 said is seeing the gravity of the situation. What I find very interesting is that Casey always seems to be crying for things about her and never cries about her dead daughter. As always, it's all about Casey.

Am wondering if Casey will be flipping through papers and notebooks trying to act like she's interested. Kinda like how interested she was in "searching" for her daughter.

I love this blog. Thanks.

ritanita said...

Thanks for the comments, everybody.

Darcy, I'm just assuming that the jury selection will be televised based on comments made at a previous hearing. I originally interpreted it to mean that Baez wanted the trial not to be televised, but a couple of MSM sources mentioned jury selection.

I've only seen jury selection once. Let's see what happens. It would be interesting to watch, but not as necessary as seeing the trial itself.

I see most of you agree that the trial looming in front of them has had its effect on Cindy and Casey.

So many have also noticed that Casey doesn't show the least interest or emotion when Caylee is discussed. The only exception was Ashton's speech a while back.

By the way, I rewatched the second part of the hearing this morning and noticed that Casey was swallowing hard and made some interesting faces and gestures.

I hope nobody on the jury remembers reading MacBeth. "Out, out, damn spot" comes to mind whenever she rubs her hands together.

donchais said...

Ya know, I can't quite put my finger on it, but the hearing had almost a surreal quality to it.

Maybe because all the usual players were there, but didn't participate.

Maybe it was because we saw an unusually angry Judge Perry.

Maybe because the whole atmosphere seemed highly funereal.

Maybe because reality has set in for all - judgment day is right around the corner.

It just made me profoundly sad for Caylee.

Anonymous said...

As to the jury selection being televised. I remember from the OJ Simpson trial, Scott Peterson trail and Phil Spector trial that we never saw the jurors and their names were not revealed during the trial....only after the verdicts were rendered did we see them or know who they were. The cameras were very careful not to show the jurors. So, if the selection of the jury is televised, would we only see the attorney questioning "someone" who we would not be able to see?

ritanita said...

Donchais, I think you captured something I felt when I finally saw the whole hearing in order.

Anon, If the jury selection is showed, we could see the lawyers, the defendant, and the judge.

I have a feeling that the jurors will be addressed by numbers and we will not see their faces.

In the one I watched, if a prospective juror had to answer a question that was too personal, they would go to the bench with the lawyers.

Again, I've heard no specific news reports that it will be televised, but there were one or two which mentioned that Baez didn't want them televised.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Personally, I'm not going to sit at my computer and watch it all. I'll probably put on InSession or turn my speakers up loud if it's live streamed.

It's pretty boring at first. I know it's important, but it's tedious to watch.

GeeMama said...

Thanks so much for your updates! I look forward to your coverage of the trial since I am in a different time zone and don't get all the In Session coverage. Keep up all your great work.

crim 310 said...


I'm really wanting to know what was said in the courtroom yesterday after the "behind the scenes meeting". I could see it fine, but no audio. What did you hear? Is it possible that the Judge left the audio off just to show the media how easily he could shut them out? lol

ritanita said...

Thank you Gee Mama, I know I won't be able to watch 100% of the trial, but I'm doing as much as I can.

Crim 304, there was no sound after they came back, so I'm as much in the dark as you are.

FRG said...


Thank you for the article!

I just hope there won;t be any delay and the trial starts as it is supposed to. This is just frustrating!

I agree with you, "no real tears" for KC. She knows how to press her two hands over her face and make it to look red. I say "phony balloney tears". What I would guess is that KC is getting a little bit o reality check. She cries for herself... the trial is around the corner... so I hope.

As far as CM, what is there in his water lately? Good Lord he said KC is bright and likable! How many times has he visited KC in jail to say that? Not many. What a foolish comment. Has KC manipulated him as well? LOL

shyloh's poetry said...

This is my opinion only. Attorney Judith Mercier was a complete idiot. She knew nothing. I was shaking my head when she couldn't answer any questions. WOW! Wonder if she'll be a media attorney after this one? I can't believe what she did. I think after she got a smack down she was vengeful and this is why we are here today. Please don't let this delay Justice for Caylee. UGH!!!

ritanita said...

Morning FRG and shyloh's poetry...

I'm stressed out! Let's hope the appellate judges rule quickly today (and deny the motion). Considering that the defense would love some more time to figure out a solid defense (even with a gag order) and the fact that Baez had little to say in the hearing makes me go "hmmmm..."

Now George and Cindy want to visit Casey and think they could stop the publication of the jail video: they are dreaming if they think Baez will allow it, let alone their own loving daughter!

Then, there's the issue of the "last motion" over our heads.

It doesn't get more nerve-wracking than that!

Pass the chill-pills, please!

Kim in Canada said...

As to not wanting to sign the Confidentiality agreement, if WFTV is willing to sign the agreement, all the temper tantrum media would have to do is FOLLOW WFTV..!!

They would then know "where" jury selection would be and as HHJP stated, if they were able to find the information via another source, they would be free to reveal the location.

A TEENAGER could figure out something as simple as...follow the "one" who knows..!!