I suppose the defense is terrified to call the defendant, but I’ve got news for you: prosecutors and judges are forever and always claiming that you’re “stupid” to call the defendant. Why do you think that is? The reason is that calling the defendant greatly increases the chances of an acquittal.
What’s to be scared of here for the defense? The prosecution blew their “let’s dirty her up” ammo in their case in chief. How much more damage can they do on cross-examination? Go through all her post mortem antics again? At this point that would be tedious. Is Casey Anthony going to break down on the stand and admit she “did it”, like in the old Perry Mason shows? I don’t think so. They’ve got a lot of letters of hers and other stuff, but the defense knows about all of it. They have to prepare her. But that’s all right, it’s part of the job.
The real danger is that the prosecution is going to look overbearing, cruel and to some extent subtly unsure of themselves – as in desperate – if they go at her too hard – and even if they don’t – and she doesn’t do anything else to damage herself. Which is kind of hard to imagine. I mean, what’s worse than the pictures of her at the “hot body” contest when she knew her daughter was dead? She can only go up from there.
In my mind, there’s no question that Casey Anthony should, must really, take the stand in her own defense and there is no reason to believe that it is any more high risk that what the defense is already facing. Just get her prepared and put her up there. Call the prosecution’s and everyone else’s bluff.
Of course, this is all assuming she doesn’t have to lie about anything. If she’s in a position where she is forced to lie or not testify, she can’t testify.
Update: Here’s USA Today’s take on the question. Plenty of unnamed “legal analysts” and a couple of named ones. The redoubtable Karin Moore makes an appearance.
Note the tone and implication. She may have to testify, and that is a tactical error by the defense attorney Jose Baez. Better to just poke holes at the prosecution’s proof, they imply.
Which as a general rule is not true. Just poking holes in the prosecution’s case is a strategy for losing, but no one will blame you for it if you do it well and actually poke a few holes. If you want a chance to actually win, though, you’ve got a much better chance if you put the defendant up there.
Sometimes it’s a nightmare preparing them, and I should think that would especially be the case here. But it’s not necessarily, or even likely to be, a tactical error at all.