This Is A Tough Business

Jose Baez, the attorney representing Casey Anthony at her murder trial, has a number of big problems that are very difficult (did I say very difficult?  Words fail to describe the difficulties one encounters in trials like this when you represent a defendant) to overcome.

One such problem is that the individual he has to paint as a villain – his client’s father –  is a retired cop.  Cops are experienced and practiced witnesses, and almost always effective at convincing a jury they are telling the truth.  Even when they are not.

Take a look at this video from CNN (you might have to wade through Nancy Grace’s blather, first).  Baez is cross examining George Anthony and on the surface it appears that George Anthony is shining and Baez is faltering.  That may not be how it appears later, but for now the point is that cross-examining a cop is hard work because they know what they’re doing on a witness stand.  (By the way, there is a lot going on in that questioning.  A LOT.  Probably more on that later.)

One other very big problem has to do with representing a criminal defendant who is also a pretty girl.  Because of the jury dynamics, this is a nightmare.

The overwhelming majority of the time, criminal defendants are men.  As a general rule, when you represent a criminal defendant you want women on the jury, for a number of reasons, such as that women work better in groups, which is what a jury is; with men, group work tends to degenerate into a power game to determine which male is the “Alpha”, and then the other males line up behind him.  Then in turn the jury lines up behind the more powerful litigant, which in criminal trials is the government, and it’s game over for the criminal defendant.

Women are less inclined to play that game and more inclined to look at evidence even-handedly in those circumstances.

But what if the criminal defendant is a pretty girl?

In the contested situations that are criminal trials, women are extremely hard on pretty girls, particularly pretty girls that can be painted as being promiscuous.  It’s one of the reasons rape convictions can be very difficult to get, as we just saw again in NYC.

I’m sure I could describe a few theories about why this is the case, but that’s not important at the moment.  The fact of it is.  It’s also a primal, visceral thing with women, difficult to talk about effectively when you’re picking a jury.

So who do you want on a jury when your criminal defendant is a pretty girl that will be painted as promiscuous by the prosecution?  Not women.  And not men, either.  They might find the defendant attractive, but the chances that that would overcome their inclination to side with the powerful against the weak are very slim.

That doesn’t leave a lot of people you’ll be happy about seeing in that jury box.

Update:  Another thing I’ll mention in passing:

First, remember that two days ago the former b/f was asked by attorney Baez whether the defendant had ever told him she had been abused by her father, then the b/f said “yes” and it was stricken as hearsay? (See the “update” part of this post).

Look what happened yesterday:

On Thursday, the day ended with one witness testifying outside the jury’s presence about whether Casey ever mentioned sexual abuse by George Anthony.”It definitely wasn’t sexual,” said Tony Lazzaro, one of Casey’s ex-boyfriends.

Now unfortunately this is sinister.  The question Baez had asked was whether the defendant had ever told the witness a “secret” about being abused by her father.  Apparently Baez did not use the term “sexually” abused, but this was fairly implied when he described it as a “secret”.

The witness answered “yes” before the objection squelched him, and the jury heard it.  So now, even though it’s been ruled out of evidence the prosecution has to live with the “yes”; the only possible damage control is to thread the needle, use the fact that Baez didn’t specifically say “sexual” abuse in his question and contend it was some other kind of abuse, preferably something most people wouldn’t even believe was abuse at all – like corporal punishment.  Which after all, Casey Anthony really needed anyway, being a promiscuous child murderer and all.

And somehow, as if by magic, the witness gives them exactly that.  A day later, of course.  This occurred after the prosecution had a chance to “confer” with their witness.  You see, they didn’t know Baez was going to ask that question the day before so they weren’t prepared for it.  No matter, though.  Object and the judge will rule it out of bounds.  Then “talk” to the witness.  Make it clear how “serious” this all is, and don’t forget to remind him that you have the power to prosecute people who displease you.  Let it sink in for a day or so and then put him back on – outside the presence of the jury so they don’t hear anything untoward in case the witness didn’t “get it” the first time.  And if he’s a smart boy and says the “right thing” you’ll have him locked in for future testimony, in case the defense tries to pull that stunt again.

In other words, the prosecution tampered with that witness.  No doubt about it.  And of course the judge is very obliging.

How do you counter that kind of thing if you’re Baez?  Move for a mistrial?  Lots of luck.

Like I said, it’s a tough business.



Filed under wrongful convictions

2 responses to “This Is A Tough Business

  1. Marge

    Casey’s nurse-mother didn’t notice she was 7 months pregnant and she didn’t notice she was schizophrenic, so she wouldn’t have noticed her husband was molesting her.
    George threw his own father thru a plate-glass window and Cindy choked Casey but we are supposed to think Casey is the violent one. The reason Casey had several stories is because of her illness and the trauma of her child drowning or being abducted SHOULD
    have that effect on her. See “A Beautiful Mind” and “Butterfly Effect 2.” Nobody wants this iillness. It has the social stigma once reserved for AIDS. A very important point was brought out today in court but the Media was fixated on duct-tape. Caylee’s bones were tested for Xanax and the whole Zanny means Xanax lie was exposed. Just as I thought, Caylee was well cared for until her death. One thing that Casey told the truth about is that the police were going to pin it on her. Few people are trained to recognize schizophrenia. And it is all too common for them to latch onto the bad egg and not let go. Some people can’t think outside the box and few people have to and the state of Florida would never admit they are wrong. They’d rather kill an innocent woman than admit they are wrong.
    Several things just don’t set right. Another Orlando girl is said to have been found murdered and covered with duct-tape. Roy Kronk’s girlfriend worked for the sheriff’s dept. and he wiggled out of kidnappiing charges in SC and his ex-wives and step-daughter think he’s an ass and a duct-taper. A known kidnapper, fake nun Laura Caballero has been just let go free by FL citing “jurisdictional problems.” Hmm…I really don’t believe this woman killed her child and then decided to frame herself. My favorite claim is that her friends attended the funeral of her hamster in some year gone past and therefore remembered that she places heart stickers on the dead. Great detective work there! They probably know more about the hamster than Laura Caballero’s male associate or Roy Kronk’s step-daughter’s claim he watched her undress at age 11. It is just so much easier to think the crazy girl did it. The girl and her helpless child were easy targets.
    Cindy remembers that Casey bought an air mattress for Caylee to sleep on at Zanny’s house. Zanny might not be Zenaida but somewhere in the schizophrenic haze is some truth that will be found out someday when it is too late. Yes, Casey is a victim. Someone probably told her she had a “beautiful mind” in reference to schizophrenia and thus she misinterprets it as a “beautiful life.” She can’t cry for her own child without someone making some cruel comment.


    • I don’t know if Casey has schizophrenia. Dissociative behaviors, definitely.

      And you are right about the State of Florida. They cannot stop themselves now.


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