Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why weren't the judge, defense lawyers, and prosecutors also sequestered during the Casey Anthony trial?

Casey Anthony is a woman who was just found innocent of the charge of murder, in the case of the death of her two year-old daughter. I have no idea whether she's innocent or guilty; I watched not one minute of the trial on television, and I watched only a few seconds of a recap on Anderson Cooper's CNN "news" program (I was at a friend's house -- not my choice). I did note that she was physically attractive, for what that's worth. Her ears look kind of funny to me.

That's not important. Apparently, now that the prosecution's case has been thoroughly repudiated by the jury, many people are up in arms. Notably, scumbag Nancy Grace:
Grace railed against the 25-year-old Anthony, whom she nicknamed "Tot Mom." "It's tough when you think about Caylee and you think about this evidence and you think about all those days that Tot Mom went about partying as if Caylee had never existed," she said. Grace added, "the devil is dancing tonight."
Nancy Grace is thoroughly loathsome, and I have no desire to write about her ever again, except to say that if she is truly this upset about the verdict, then that's one silver lining.

But, again, I didn't watch anything about the trial, so I have absolutely no idea as whether Ms. Anthony is guilty or not. I just dislike Nancy Grace immensely.

The jurors, surprisingly, decided en masse to not speak to reporters. Well, there was one alternate juror who's given some interviews. He agrees with the verdict:
[Russell] Hueckler, known as Juror #14, only served as an alternate, so he wasn't in the jury room during deliberations. He did sit through every minute of testimony and, because of that, believes the 'not guilty' verdict was the right one. "I agree with that decision whole-heartedly. It was the right decision."
Not to be glib, since an innocent two year-old child was killed, or murdered, or something (again, I have no idea what happened), but: Whatever. The thing that I found most interesting about this particular article was the in the first paragraph:
Even before Russell Hueckler made it back to his Saint Petersburg home for the first time since May, national media descended on his family's home. Hueckler spent 43 days sequestered as a juror on the Casey Anthony trial.
43 days sequestered??? The jury, and the alternate jurors, spent 43 days sequestered because of this trial?

Mr. Hueckler, an alternate juror, hadn't been back home since May???

Wha--??

Moreover, although the jurors were forced to participate in a trial in Orlando, which is in Orange County, they were kidnapped from Pinellas County:
The media glare in the Orlando area prompted [judge Belvin] Perry to order that jurors be imported into Orange County for the trial. He was so concerned with publicity that Pinellas was not announced as the location for jury selection until Monday morning.
Those unsuspecting Pinellas County residents must have gotten a nasty surprise when they found out they were being baited-and-switched into another county's mess. Many of them begged off, saying they actually had lives that they didn't want disrupted by this onerous and unfair exercise. But some were unemployed, or students on summer break and told the judge, "Yes, I would like to be inconvenienced to be part of your farce."
Along the way, Perry explained the hardships and the minor perks of this trip to Orlando. He said jurors will be housed together in a hotel, and not allowed to watch news shows or use cell phones. They could use the Internet to pay bills, but not to research the case. They could watch some preapproved movies, and maybe even play PlayStation games.

The jurors will hear testimony on weekdays and half-days on Saturdays. Their movements will be restricted. "You couldn't go to Downtown Disney or Church Street Station," Perry said to a young unemployed man, although he did say some side trips would be arranged.

A court spokeswoman said the group would not be allowed to visit their families, but Perry said jurors would be allowed to call their families and have them occasionally visit the hotel.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Having fewer freedoms than a Gitmo detainee seems a small price to pay, to help in the cause of "law and order."

But. Did the judge live under these conditions? Did the prosecutors? Did the defense attorneys? Why is one group in a trial -- the group actually making the decision about guilt or innocence -- put under these restrictive, punitive conditions, while the others get to "frisk like deer"?

Well, because the judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys want to keep the jurors stupid, and ensure that they only get pre-approved information:
"The idea of sequestration is to ensure that the jury is not improperly influenced by information that exists outside the courtroom," said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law. "What you're trying to do is control the information to the jury."
...
"They have to be removed from the flow of information," Rose said. "That used to be relatively easy to do. It is now a nightmare."
Read what that jackass Charles Rose, a professor at a college of law for crying out loud, just said. The jurors need to be "removed from the flow of information." The court wants people to not get information. The court is trying to keep jurors -- the people who are charged with making the life-and-death guilty-or-not-guilty decision -- uninformed.

That is an astonishing thing for someone to say.

Oh, and he also said this:
"If I was the judge, the first thing I'd do is take the phones away (from jurors) and limit Internet access," said Rose, professor of excellence in trial advocacy at Stetson.

Otherwise, he said, jurors will be tweeting about events in court and searching Wikipedia for information about decomposition of human remains. That could taint the trial and lead to an appeal — or worse, having to declare a mistrial and start over.
Research and information might "taint" the trial. Think about that. This is the jury he's talking about. The people making the decision about guilt or innocence. He is saying that the people who are willing to have their lives upended for this exercise, the people willing to be kidnapped from St. Petersburg and taken to Orlando for over a month, should then be kept in the dark as much as possible, to avoid "taint."

This man is a professor at a law school, and he is saying that it is vitally important to keep the people who are making the judgment as in the dark as possible.

To that end:
Families of both jurors say the media coverage has been overwhelming. Hueckler told us the jury had limited television in their hotel rooms and that newspapers showed up a week late, missing many major articles to prevent media exposure to the trial.
This is what a trial is like in America, 2011. Prosecutors and defense lawyers and judges get to live their lives, with unfettered access to whatever information they want. Jurors are treated like hostile, stupid children, denied access even to their own families to ensure that they remain as ignorant as possible. And the professors teaching the next generation of lawyers and prosecutors are giving interviews in which they blithely state that it's vital that jurors be kept stupid.

All of you people who are unhappy about this decision: Try channeling some of that into changing the farcical trial system we have in this country.

"Frisk like deer" reference -- one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs:

3 comments:

ShesIt said...

To put my criticism in perspective, I'm fully aware of how the justice system works having to have had to fight my own battles against a sociopathic ex, not unlike Casey, who threatened my life, put me in the hospital, raped me, had raped his step-niece when she was 16 and he was 32, owes people $1000s & whose current whereabouts are "unknown" since he lies & leeches off of people and who the police could care less about prosecuting & actually told me I'd have to find myself since they don’t have the resources. And yes, that "sociopathic" usage is a medical one as he was diagnosed as one with psychopathic tendencies-which, if anyone had bothered to tell me I would have stayed far away from him. So I care a lot about people who don't have the ability to defend themselves. I’ve paid attention to this case for nearly 3 years. It's not the media that's evoked this, it's caring about a murdered child, a family grieving the inconceivable and looking at a situation where a murderer gets away with crimes she willfully committed. Since you’ve obviously lived an easy life & never dealt with people who are literally psychopaths, here’s their MO: they’re fantastic liars, often pretty, very intelligent, blame everything on others, & are cunningly manipulative. Because of this, they get away with things for years & years & years because they’re so fantastic at manipulating. And you fell for it. You bought the whole “big eyes, fake crying since I bawl for hours yet only use tissue, I’m a horrible person so I must blame it on someone else so that I have a fake reason for being evil so people will feel sorry for me”. Are you aware that she tried the same crap with her ex-fiancee? That she pinned this on him before George, saying he was obsessed with Caylee and intimated that he was molesting her? You should be ashamed of how naïve you are & thankful that a few people give a shit when things entirely fall apart, because most have "better, easier" things to do: watch football games, go party, visit friends, etc. & bolt when they're truly needed.

Ricky Sprague said...

First of all, ShesIt, I am sorry for all that you've had to deal with. No one should have to go through any of that.

That said, I'm not entirely sure of what you're criticizing me for. That I didn't follow this case? Or that I believe that jurors should be empowered to make informed, educated decisions about cases, rather than deliberately being kept ignorant? Perhaps if the jury hadn't been forced to remain in the dark, their verdict might have been different?

I make no judgment about Ms. Anthony -- I didn't "fall" for anything -- because as I stated in the original post, I did not follow the case. Since posting that, a friend has told me about some of the lies that Ms. Anthony apparently told everyone around her, but that is all I know.

A.Jaye said...

See what happens when you get to flippant Sprague? It's like a clarion call for the cuckoo clock.

Infanticide is a weekly occurance in the UK. It's why I couldn't bring myself to comment. Calley died and no one will pay for it.

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/research/statistics/child_homicide_statistics_wda48747.html

We have our own horror stories.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5140511.ece