Casey Anthony Trial Attorney thoughts — Get mad

Now that the last post is out of my system, let me talk seriously about this case.  And if you are deeply invested in Casey Anthony’s guilt, then know my heart goes out to the whole family in this and Casey will have to live with whatever she did for the rest of her life.  She will never be afforded a normal life, and will be marked as “guilty” no matter what the jury says.

Also, like the movie Final Destination, Justice comes back to get its own: see OJ Simpson.

And please don’t read the rest of this post.


(embedding is disabled but it’s an interesting take, minus the lack of modesty in victory.)

Casey Anthony is not who you should be mad at.

Jose Baez is not who you should be mad at.

You should be mad at the talking heads who are right now congratulating themselves for knowing better than the jury.  The same people who told us she would be found guilty, now tell us she should have been found guilty and anyone else is wrong.  The same people who said  Jose Baez is a horrible attorney and will lose the case, are now saying Jose Baez is a horrible attorney and won by accident.

Jose Baez didn’t make them predict the entire case wrongly last Friday.  This was as much of a “dry bones” case before the verdict was read.  So who is the person who knows less about the legal system now?

So Is Jose Baez as bad an attorney as they say?  Is he the next Johnnie Cochran?

Slow down.  These are two of the questions I’ve received since this case started and the answer is, slow down.  Baez gets his moment of the sun.  No matter how horrible is, he won. And to the victor go the spoils.  He gets to celebrate.  He gets to charge more for his next few cases.  That’s the rule.  But you’re only as good as your last case.

This week, he’s the best in the world.  And he has the perfect rebuttal to anyone who criticizes him.  “You  go win that case.”

Baez reportedly acts like he doesn’t know basic courtroom rules.    Acting amateur is an old, useful scheme many people use.  One of my most recent cases I purposely misspoke a rule of law during Voir Dire.   I knew the judge would catch it, correct me in front of the jury, and that the rule would mean more coming from him.  This is the one rule I planned to argue in closing.  And I did.  And I told the jury “You remember at the beginning, I said _______, the judge interupted, he said ‘No, __opposite___’, and I said ‘Really?’ and he said ‘yes __opposite__ is the rule.’  It was that important. The judge corrected me and told you TWICE what the rule is.  Now, FOLLOW IT.”  My client walked out the front door because the jury followed the law.

I would also point out Baez completely ignored the chloroform evidence in his closing.  I would have done that too. I think that’s a smart decision even though I think many people would demand he address it.  I can’t be mad at that.

More people to be mad at:

You should be mad at the attention in the case.  Publicity comes with good attorneys who come with investigators who come with jury consultants who come with medical examiners.  All wanting to get one sound bite on camera to make a career.

Be mad at the Medical Examiner for making an absolute rookie mistake and being a completely unbelievable witness.  By testifying to something that was so clearly untrue (that she was able to determine it was a murder) she undermined the whole prosecution’s case.  If you don’t know how someone died, you can’t say it was a murder. Period.

Be mad at whoever suggested “Beautiful life” is somehow a tribute to Casey’s life after Caylee died.  It just doesn’t ring true and jeopardizes every other argument.  Getting a tattoo as a tribute to your dead daughter’s lost “beautiful life” sounds way more realistic.

Be mad at the American system.  We let some of the guilty go free in order to assure the innocent go free.  We insure the rights of the guiltiest among us so that the innocent among us get that same assurance of procedural fairness.  Decide what number of innocent people are allowed to be in jail, or put to death, in exchange for what number of guilty people are allowed to go free. The traditional standard is 10 guilty must go free to save one innocent person.

Now decide when that innocent person is your brother, your mother, your wife?

Be mad at whoever sold you that a jury trial is about “Justice for Caylee”  If you feel “Justice for Caylee” is more important than assurance of fairness for the defendant, I’m afraid we can’t be friends.  Not because i’m against justice for the victim.  (The first client I signed since going private was actually a victim’s rights client.)  But because you’re a horrible person if you believe convicting someone, anyone is somehow justice if that person isn’t proven guilty under the rules you’ve agreed to in advance.

Be mad at anyone who gave this case coverage.  The largest jury panel I ever had was in excess of 150 people.  The first question the judge asked was “Who has heard of this case”  Over half the room raised their hands.  So everyone who has read the paper, reads the news on the internet, watches television news or updates, or listens to morning radio, all these people were instantly dismissed! Understand, in a high publicity case, anyone swayed by the publicity must be dismissed.  It is an entirely different jury pool if you disqualify anyone passingly interested in daily, local news.

If this case was not championed by the lawyer TV circuit, it would have been a much different case.

The final takeaway for this is simple: What makes a good episode of Nancy Grace, doesn’t make a good murder case.  For some reason prosecutors seem to buckle under media pressure when Defense attorneys thrive on it (see: Marcia Clark/Christopher Darden).  Every time I’ve seen an attorney act as if his case was a slam dunk, he’s lost.  Run every race like you’re ten feet behind.

It’s a tragedy what happened to Caylee.  But that doesn’t mean we should compromise our underlying principles to convict her mother.  One tragedy isn’t fixed by inflicting another. Compromising traditional, long-standing values is always a tragedy.  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Insure the process and perfect the means. As soon as the ends are more important that the means, the whole system is lost.

No matter what the system is we’re talking about.

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