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January 8, 2011

17

beyond a reasonable doubt

by Andrea O'Connell

When Casey Anthony was arrested, like any other American citizen facing any criminal charge, she had the right to an attorney, and the right to stay silent.  This Fifth Amendment Right exists because, ordinary folks like you and I need help maneuvering through government systems that are bigger and more powerful than little ole’ us.  We could inadvertently incriminate ourselves by talking to the police, even when we’re innocent.

In the Casey Anthony case, so much of what she has already said will come back to haunt her and her defense counsel.  Everything she has said will have great impact when the State of Florida has it’s say in trial.  A good defense attorney will try to find a way to have prior statements thrown out of the trial for any number of reasons, not the least of which, because they are incriminating.  But sometimes the statements were given under duress, sometimes confessions are dragged out of suspects after hours of intense interrogation.  There are times when it’s only just that statements get thrown out.

Defense attorneys help us help ourselves against saying something that could incriminate us later on.  When a person is charged with a crime, or thinks they are going to be charged with a crime, or if they have committed a crime, you will hear lawyers say: Do not talk!

At trial, the State of Florida has the burden of proof; they must obtain a unanimous decision from 12 jurors that the defendant is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the burden in criminal cases.  In civil cases, the burden is different.  In civil court, a person is deemed culpable if the standard of “by a preponderance of the evidence” is met.

In criminal cases, the defense cannot prove “innocence”.  The Defense need only sit back and watch the State’s case unfold to determine it they met the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. However, it’s a tough standard because you are dealing with jurors who are only human, so the defense will want to make sure they upset the State’s case by picking apart their work on the case, and the evidence.  Defense attorneys look for the weaknesses, looking to see sensitivities in the underbelly of the State’s case to cast doubt on as many different aspects as possible.

I was a juror on a criminal case, quite a while ago.  It was a case in which a defendant was charged with revealing himself in public to a young girl, she was about 12 at the time.  The defendant lived near the young girl who said this disgusting man did often reveal himself to her – targeting her in particular.

During the trial, the State did a good job bringing forward their witnesses, who claimed to also have seen this defendant lurking around the area, and even had seen this young girl run from this man.  Effective evidence, I recall.

The Defense never cross-examined the young girl, who by the way, could not identify the defendant in the courtroom.  The defendant had completely changed his hair, grew a mustache, and was much heavier than when the crime had been committed.  He looked completely different and the young girl didn’t recognize him.  The Defense attorney used that fact to the jury in his closing arguments. But, we, the jury, knew better.  We were shown how the Defendant used to look and understood that it would be difficult for anyone to identify him now.

The reasonable doubt in this case?  Well, the defense brought in pictures of a gentleman from the same neighborhood who closely matched the description of the defendant – the way he “used” to look.  The Defense counselor told the jury that the witnesses could have seen the man in the pictures, not his client.

The problem we had, however, the man in the picture was never produced as a witness.  We never heard from him at trial.  We had only his picture.  Now, one woman on the jury thought that was reasonable doubt – because it “could” have been the man in the picture, since he so resembled the defendant, and since the young girl did not recognize the Defendant, perhaps it WAS the guy in the picture who did this.

Well, this woman – the lone holdout on the jury, didn’t hold out for long once she listened to the other members of the jury explain why they thought the Defendant was guilty.  She very quickly changed her mind.

So, that reasonable doubt was not in the least bit reasonable to my jury.

Needless to say, I remember thinking, “Boy, this Defense attorney must think we’re pretty stupid!”

Would you be surprised if the jurors in the Casey Anthony case feel the same?

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sherry
    Jan 8 2011

    I’ve been thinking for two years that Baez will be playing the jury for stupid. He will use his talent for obsfucation and hope that his “uh, ums” along with his smug ‘tude will make him look professional and believable before the jury-that’s imo. Yes, the jury will think as you did at your deliberations-”the defense must think we are stupid”.

    In your case, there was a detail that the man had changed his appearance and that if he was not the same man as the picture of his old look, then where is this man in the picture? Why didn’t the defense bring this man in as a witness? I think the defense would have had more luck in persuading a jury of such a thing as that than Jose has for any stunt he could think to pull.

    Reply
    • Jan 8 2011

      Hey Sherry!
      Yup, I agree with you. I think any jury will have the same reaction to Jose as we had.
      When the jury sees him in action, I would wager that they will think him cocky and not quite on the right side of truth. I could be wrong, he could redo his act and get himself together by May. But, that still leaves him with the same case and no defense! The sad thing here is this case should never have gone to trial. It’s so one sided it’s pathetic. Now, if Baez had kept his mouth shut all this time and not gone to the media about every last detail, there might be public understanding in what ever he’s trying to do, ya know? But, he’s already blown it by being out in the public and trying this case in the media, IMO.
      Most attorney’s keep quiet about their cases… this is a prime example why they do!

      Reply
    • Pansy Burke
      Jul 5 2011

      “[W]e have yet to develop, much less test, a scientifically-validated, peer-reviewed questionnaire that would reveal each juror’s personal definition of ‘reasonable.’ ” Read Andrew Vachss’ whole article–written before the jury ever came back with a verdict–at http://vachss.com/av_dispatches/reasonabledoubt.html.

      Reply
      • Jul 5 2011

        Yeah, that’s the ticket! Especially when we toss common sense out the window. What a bunch of BS~ GMADB!

  2. Jan 8 2011

    The best part? It is Baez that will be proven to be less than intelligent. We don’t need to have law school in our back ground to recognize a liar, do we?

    Reply
    • Jan 8 2011

      LOL Kim! You got that right! Excellent point! :)

      Reply
  3. offthecuff
    Jan 8 2011

    How about a pity- party defense strategy?
    -Jose admits he’s a struggling lawyer (especially compared to the resume of the state) but this young girl came to him for help, and he “believes” in her
    -He has helped Casey and stood by her, when no one else would
    -He is of hispanic descent fighting the elitism of this country
    -Casey is a young, struggling mother (ex) bound within a dysfunctional family
    -Casey has the maturity level of a teen due to forced mothering and parental smothering
    -Statistics show young people Casey’s age have a tendency to lie, party, lead unstable lives, and make ends meet as they may
    -LE took advantage of Casey, presuming guilt rather than give her the dignity of a lawyer when they privately questioned her
    -LE failed to consider many of Casey’s connections as possible criminal elements
    -If Casey was such a loser, why were her friends and parents so trusting

    Reply
    • Jan 10 2011

      Oh, I hear violins playing! LOL… great post, offthecuff!

      Reply
  4. GrettaGraceontheCase
    Jan 9 2011

    I want Ms. Anthony to have a fair trial. I do not want an appeal based on ineffectual counsel. The only thing I’m seeing with Mr. Baez is he can’t represent himself out of a paper bag with both ends open. I see him as verbally inarticulate, immature, ineffective in his presentations both in written and oral arguments. I also see him as a con artist and shuckster. Mr. Mason has not elevated the Defense team. Mr. Mason seems to be taking up space, breathing air and doing very little. It is my belief that Ms. Lyon contributed the most work to this team and I think she sincerely worked for this team. When Jose had money he didn’t (in my opinion) use it effectively for his client otherwise more depos would have been completed etc. Does Mr. Baez forget that each day this trial is delayed (assuming he has an innocent client) that is just one more day that person sits in a jail cell? I’d bet you if I had been a fly on the wall I would have heard some of the side deals that were made. Where does Jose come to Geraldo…. Jose has something Geraldo wants and its not Jose’s fishing pole. Geraldo is behind a few more things if you look carefully enough and put that Todd Black character under a microscope. It would be my fondest wish to have Casey Anthony have a crackerjack attorney… the best.. not the worst like Jose. I want her to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and I want her to have the best defense so that when she rots in jail for the next 50 years (I’m not convinced this is a dealth penalty case) there will be fewer appeals on the taxpayers dime.
    Jose is getting paid at the JAC rate. I still want an accounting for the 285K because i think a great deal of the money was blown back to Jose in one way or another if you catch my drift. That is more than he deserves for his legal skills which are poor to none. New clients I’m sure will be gotten for him by name recognition. It is my believe that he failed many things in life, ethically and morally and didn’t learn the ABC’s of lawyering… Always be concise, always be client-orientated… there are others always be comprehensive. It took the bar 10 years to admit him based on ethics violations and judgement calls. How wise was Paris and his expensive suits when his 2 homes are in foreclosure? I bet you he has something squirrelled away. Also, the paperwork is not complete. I looked at the investigator Lyons submissions and they were as bad record keeping as Jose’s.

    No way is Jose up to the task of defending a dealth penalty case. There will be no Cousin Vinny verdict on this case but there will be a persistant Linda Drane Burdick! It is neither a conspiracy of the SAO nor the Orange County Police nor District Attorney to fry Ms. Anthony. These offices are involved because of Casey’s lies and outrageous tales and the allegation that she killed her baby that put Ms. Anthony in this position.
    Let justice pervail and remember Caylee Anthony is not the only child that deserves all the attention. There are many cases that go unnoticed. Let Justice for Caylee trickle down to lesser known cases where momsters and step-monsters and offenders are brought to justice for their harm to other children as well.

    Reply
    • Sherry
      Jan 9 2011

      ~standing O~
      Well said!

      Reply
    • Jan 9 2011

      I cannot thank you enough for sharing your insight and opinion here. Like Sherry gives you, here’s my standing ovation. You have said what I believe to be true: Jose IS a shylock and huckster and is using the tragedy of the loss of child and the absurdity surrounding Casey Anthony, as a cause-celeb, maximizing his own benefit on a his own sickening stage.
      No defense attorney who cares about the law and the right of his client would flaunt theories out in the media as Jose has consistently done. No defense attorney would be so callous as to purposely crucify Roy Kronk via his ex-wives who clearly are also morally challenged. Lest Jose forget, he also has an ex wife and a child to whom he refused to pay child support for years, which was in large part why the Bar refused his entry for so long. I could go on and on because, like you, I am sickened at a system that will allow a Jose Baez to hold someone’s life in his hands while he struts his inabilities in the courtroom like he’s a high school drama star in a make-believe courtroom. And Casey Anthony, why she continues to allow him to represent her, leaves me dumbfounded. The only conclusion I can make is there is some type of emotional bondage there…Surely, she can’t be so stupid?
      There is some hope that Judge Belvin Perry will maintain strict discipline in that courtroom so that somehow Casey does get a fair trial. It’s totally ironic that Casey’s ability for a fair trial is the doing of her own counsel for the defense. As I think the Honorable Judge Strickland said in his notice to recuse himself from the case, “The irony is indeed rich.”

      Reply
    • weezie
      Jan 9 2011

      GrettaGraceontheCase:::

      GERALDO and TODD BLACK? Could you please explain what you are referring to? I am totally at a loss about Tod Black. I know who Geraldo is but I don’t get Fox T.V. so I don’t know what it is that Geraldo is wanting from Baez? You definately have me intrigued. Great article.

      Reply
  5. Sherry
    Jan 9 2011

    Here is an article about Jose’s ineptness. Enjoy, lol!

    Reply
    • Jan 9 2011

      Sherry, Thank you for this link! This is incredible writing and research! I’m so thankful to the Orlando Sentinel for writing this piece!
      Thank you again, my friend!

      Reply
  6. Sherry
    Jan 9 2011

    Great comment, offthecuff, but the Mighty Mouse theme song came to my mind while reading it,lol!

    Reply

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