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May 2, 2011


the nonpareil judge belvin perry

by Andrea O'Connell

Before denying a motion on behalf of half a dozen media outlets, the Honorable Judge Belvin Perry, presiding over the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony, advised Media attorney Judith Mercier that the right to a fair trial, by a jury of one’s peers, is the most fundamental of all our freedoms as Americans.

He told Ms. Mercier that he has already robbed Casey Anthony of one of her freedoms: The right to a jury of her peers in the county where the crime occurred, and he refused to deny her the most fundamental of her rights: A fair trial.

The dilemma with this case, unlike other cases, the media and the public interest is unprecedented, Judge Perry observed.  Judge Perry advised the attorneys and Casey Anthony, he believes this case could potentially outdo the popularity of the O.J. Simpson trial.

Judith Mercier, rabidly and persistently argued the absolute provision of a free press and the peoples right to know.  Her argument, in my view, did not attempt to balance the rights of a defendant to a fair trial.  Instead she argued that Voir Dire should take care of the question of bias in a juror.

“Have you ever tried a capital case, Ma’am, “ asked Judge Perry.  “No,” answered Ms. Mercier.

“Have you ever picked a jury in a Capital Case, Ma’am,” asked Judge Perry.  In answer, Ms. Mercier told Judge Perry, “No.”

There was no empathy or concern from this attorney for the Sixth Amendment Rights of Casey Anthony.

Ms. Mercier maintained in her argument that the harm to the right of the people to know (the location of the jury selection process), trumped everything, including the right to a fair trial.

Judge Perry advised his grave concerns. If he advised these media outlets the location of jury selection in advance,  the explosion of media coverage in that location would taint that jury pool in unmeasurable ways.  The goal is to get the pool of jurors in the jury room and begin questioning them before the media can infect them with news about the case.

In addition, Judge Perry argued that three news outlets have signed the confidentiality agreement – WFTV, In Session, and WBDO.  As Perry advised, these three groups will report freely, thereby allowing the press and the people access to information from the media.  But only AFTER the potential jurors have entered the jury room.

The Judge also advised Ms. Mercier that her clients may obtain the information they want independently, as they are wont to do in other situations every day.

Ms. Mercier accused the court of trying to hide from the media, and the public.   (The arrogance of this attorney was surprising.)

Judge Perry peppered her with questions about other high-profile court cases which she did not recognize:   What other cases have had webpages dedicated to a case, he asked.  In what other case have television stations hired one or two legal analysts to cover a case?  To both questions, Ms. Mercier had no answer.

Judge Perry went on to say, with some anger, what the media outlets really want is a feeding frenzy for ratings.  The result of the press in the location would provide a serious and imminent threat to Casey Anthony’s right to a fair trial.  Trying to balance that would be ludicrous.

If Casey Anthony is not promised a fair trial, justice for Caylee is likewise threatened.

Judge Perry spoke eloquently and passionately with regards to defendants rights.

Judge Perry advised that in denying this motion, and if it is appealed, it would result in a delay in the start of the trial.  Additionally, it would create an opportunity for the defense to ask for a continuance.  The defense has already succeeded in delaying this case, and would surely take every opportunity for a continuance.  A delay in the trial would provide the defense a tremendous advantage as people’s memory will fade as the years pile up.

If this media motion were to go to the District Court of Appeals – and it probably will, my favorite attorney, Bill Sheaffer, observed that the Judge’s decision will be upheld.

The Sixth Amendment Promise

Our rights under the Constitution of the United States of America, afford us rights in criminal cases (Amendment V) and rights to a fair trial (Amendment VI).

Casey Anthony MUST have a fair trial, though it appears that her Sixth Amendment Right (to a fair trial) could be severely compromised, if certain media outlets have their way.

It is terribly important that Casey Anthony have a fair trial, especially since she is facing the ultimate penalty, death.

If this case is delayed, Judge Perry advised that a gag order would go into effect, and he would do his utmost to stop the release of documents to the public.

There would be a “cooling off” period with the gag order that could potentially last 6 months to a year, unfortunately delaying justice for the victim, Caylee Anthony.  On the other hand, a gag order would would prevent Jose Baez from using the media to float theories about other suspects, other evidence, and different time frames to indicate that his client is, in his words, “innocent.”  There is no denying that Jose Baez is not doing Casey Anthony any favors by his proclivity to grand-stand in front of the media about his case.

Whatever happens – a continuance, or if the case moves forward, I am all the more convinced that Judge Perry will ensure Casey Anthony, who probably rarely treated anyone fairly,  can be assured she will receive a fair trial.

The U.S. Constitution is in good hands with Judge Belvin Perry – just as it was with Judge Stan Strickland – and we will be witness of a system at its best.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Venice
    May 2 2011

    Great article Andrea! The media needs to take a back seat, and I hope they listen to the good Judge!! Good God, we don’t want a mistrial (even though you know that’s where Baez is headed).

    • May 2 2011

      Hey Venice… Absolutely, if there’s a mistrial, or a delay, it will feed right into the defense’s plan. And, even though Judge Perry said he’d prevent any documents from going out to the public, I wonder if he could prevail in this? Anyway….. It’s so maddening….

  2. May 2 2011

    You said it aboput Ms. Mercier’s arrogance! I could not believe that she felt she could sass back at HHJP! She said it didn’t matter if she had done a capital case when HHJP was trying to make a point with her.

    Ooohhh! The medias Could wait until after jury selection. How dare they put profits ahead of justice for a 2 year old murder victim! If anything happens to impede the justice due because of the medias Ms Mercier was representing it won’t be good for their business.

    • May 2 2011

      Exactly! That’s what makes steam blow out of my ears… they care more about their bottom line than they do justice? If there is NO case, what will happen to their profits???? So maddening….

    • kas
      May 3 2011

      The only way Judith Mercier could have been less prepared to go before JP is if she’d been Jose Baez.

  3. May 2 2011

    Andrea sez:
    “Judge Perry advised that in denying this motion, and if it is appealed, it would result in a delay in the start of the trial. Additionally, it would create an opportunity for the defense to ask for a continuance. The defense has already succeeded in delaying this case, and would surely take every opportunity for a continuance. A delay in the trial would provide the defense a tremendous advantage as people’s memory will fade as the years pile up.”

    I hope this would make the medias that Ms. Mercier is representing think twice as to if it is worth the wrath of its advertisers and customers.

  4. May 2 2011

    heehee! Your title makes me hungry for a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles…

    • May 2 2011

      Tee hee! I know… I do love those little chocolate ones with the white teeny tiny dots…. Yummy! 🙂

      • May 2 2011

        That word cracks me up because it has two different meanings, one nowhere close to the other! Shoo…I lost the definitions page that i was going to c&p to here. 😳

      • May 2 2011

        LOL! My definition is “no equal”. Judge Perry has no equal – he’s the best of the best!

      • May 2 2011

        WHA??? I thought you meant the sugary dots known as sprinkles or the chocolate candy with white dots of sugar on them. You know, HHJP is sweet! ‘K…’tis true, he has no equal (is that the sugar substitute?). :mrgreen:

      • May 2 2011

        LOL! tis true… no equal! and I’m getting hungry for some sweets… but, it’s way past my bedtime! I’ll be a basket case tomorrow…. sheesh!
        nighty night!

    • May 3 2011

      Me too! I may have to stop on my way to work!

  5. Venice
    May 2 2011

    Why is JP just NOW addressing Casey’s right to a fair trial?? Alittle late, isn’t it? A gag order should have been issued immediately when he took on this case. Like he says….”you can’t unring a bell”.

    • May 3 2011

      Well, the gag order was discussed with Judge Strickland, it was not imposed. I have to disagree with you, Venice, Judge Perry has always had this in mind – it is the defense, who claim they want the fair trial, are actually working against it every day with their arrogant display of media whoring.
      I thought Perry fought passionately today for the right of a fair trial, I really did. 🙂

      • Venice
        May 3 2011

        Yes, you make sense Andrea. I agree 🙂

  6. Rob
    May 3 2011

    Andrea, Fantastic Post! Judge Perry was so eloquent in his statements to the court. He is one of the best judges in the country. It is true Mr. Baez has caused much of the problems with the media. Don’t forget how Cindy and George were on every major TV show they could get on. Let us hope this trial isn’t delayed by the media.

    • May 3 2011

      Hey Jon, I agree with you about Judge Perry – he was incredibly eloquent, I thought, too. It will be horrible if the case gets delayed. No justice there, and the damn media is all about their ratings…. I only watch WFTV and read the Orlando Sentinel. I will not pay any attention to the media outlets involved in this farce appeal.

  7. damagdpets
    May 3 2011

    Besides Perry doing a good job, his frustration continues to show through. There are many things that held up this trial but guess what? They are done and over! Two of the media that were represented in court have backed out from seeking appeal. I hope this is a sign that a jury will be picked and the trial starts.

    • May 3 2011

      That’s good news! Thanks for sharing!!


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