Today is day 4 of the voir dire process in the State v. Casey Anthony, and it has been fascinating!!
The Defense, the State, and the Judge had an opportunity to engage potential jurors in a dialogue and pepper them with questionss pertaining to pre-trial publicity, the death penalty, as well as general questions regarding their individuality, their views and thoughts on various subjects relating to the case.
There were quite a few interesting revelations today. The most interesting information, in my view, had to do with the questions asked by Defense Attorney, Ann Finnel, who is fighting to save Casey’s life.
Ms. Finnel advised each potential juror questioned today that, if there is a penalty phase, they will be considering mitigating circumstances about an appropriate sentence for Ms. Anthony. The jurors, Ms. Finnel advised, may choose to sentence Casey either to death, or to life, without the possibility of parole.
And mitigating circumstances, Ms. Finnell advised, are to be weighed against aggravating factors, if they are proved, in consideration of the appropriate sentence to apply in this case.
Some of the mitigating circumstances Attorney Finnel mentioned are:
- Lack of maturity
- History of sexual abuse
- Being a pawn of her parents
- a scapegoat used for parental misconduct
- a good student, employee, and jail detainee
- insufficient brain development
- dysfunctional family
- verbal and emotional abuse
One of the defense attorney’s asked a juror if they ever had something so bad happen to them they never shared it with anyone? Of course, one could assume, this is what will be alleged as it relates to Casey’s experience either with her father, brother, or both.
Another defense attorney asked a potential juror if they knew of anyone who was a victim of sexual assault and were afraid to report it. This is allegedly going to fit Casey’s experience.
What is unclear at this time has to do with how in the world will the defense get any of this information before the jury without putting Casey on the stand?
Will Casey take the stand and present any of this information? It would be foolish, of course, but they may have to do it. Regardless, the factors that Ms. Finnel revealed today appear to be the mitigating information that will be proffered in the penalty phase.
Questions about pre-trial publicity were revealing. It appears that, of those questioned today, most seemed to know only cursory information about the case. Some knew more than others, but all asserted they would be able to put aside any preconceived notions about guilt or innocence and listen to the law as Judge Perry provides it during the trial.
All of the potential jurors promised they could be fair and impartial, setting aside what they have heard previously.
What I found absurd and disingenuous were the questions raised by Cheney Mason and Jose Baez regarding pre-trial publicity. Even though these potential jurors did not know either lawyer, the fact that these two contributed to the pretrial publicity and are part of the problem, does seem like a scene right out of the Theatre of the Absurd.
It appeared dishonest to me and I was momentarily disgusted, as I believe Mr. Baez and Mr. Mason have harmed their own client with their pronouncements to the media.
Jose Baez was personable today when speaking to the potential jurors but he has a problem with allowing his personal opinions to infect what he says and does in the courtroom. For instance, when referring to Nancy Grace’s show, he called it, “The Nancy Grace Entertainment Show.”
There was some annoying gamesmanship displayed by Mr. Baez, though the potential jurors wouldn’t have noticed, I sure did!
Phoning Death Row
In addition, there is a new addition to the Defense cast list. I’m referring to Rosalie Bolin, a mitigation specialist working on the case.
Ms. Bolin is married to Oscar Ray Bolin, Jr., who is currently on Florida’s death row.
Apparently, Ms. Bolin left both her marriage with a well-established Tampa attorney, and her children, to marry Oscar Ray Bolin, Jr. She and her death-row husband were married in an over the phone ceremony. I wouldn’t think a marriage over the phone would be legal. Maybe they used a video hook-up?
Oscar Bolin is on death row in the Starke Prison; Ms. Bolin lives in Gainsville, Florida. They were married in 1996.
News like this just makes me say, “huh?”
Although, I will say in defense of Ms. Bolin, who may have a very strange personal life, she is reportedly an effective advocate against the death penalty. Therefore, it’s fair to reserve judgement given her advocacy against the death penalty.
Another interesting tidbit of information came from Asst. State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick. Ms. Burdick explained to a potential juror that the State will ask jurors to smell what decomposition smells like. Judge Perry later asked Ms. Burdick to explain what she had up her sleeve with regards to asking jurors to use their “sniffers.”
Ms. Burdick and Asst. State Attorney Jeff Ashton then explained. It seems the State Attorneys would like jurors to be able to make their own distinction between the smell of garbage, and the smell of decomposition.
Judge Perry told the State Attorney’s that jurors are not witnesses, and must not be treated as such. The State must find case law that would support such a thing using jurors instead of witnesses. Judge Perry will not be easily persuaded to allow this to occur, unless they can lay a strong foundation supported by case law.
Friday and Saturday…. More of the Same
The voir dire will continue tomorrow and Saturday – until the process is complete – as Judge Perry is firm in his commitment to begin opening statements next Tuesday.
I don’t know about you, but I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to watch this process unfold. It is absolutely fascinating to see the system work like this! From what I have heard from the potential jurors, Casey Anthony is going to have an excellent panel.
Clearly, this phase of the trial is the most critical and important piece. And, if you were not able to see any of the voir dire today, check it out because you’ll understand what makes the jurors tick as the clock ticks down to opening statements!