The court of Judge Belvin Perry grabbed its gavel and moved out of town for jury selection in order to find a jurors who had no connection to the Casey Anthony case and had not been exposed to the intense local media exposure present in Orlando. So what did they get? A potential juror on the list of possible witnesses.
Of course, they did. The atmosphere surrounding the quest for justice for Caylee Anthony has been volatile from the beginning. A defendant who has taken prevarication to new heights, physical confrontations with demonstrators in front of a suburban home, character assassination of many who were on the scene to help the case from the hapless city worker who spotted the body to the dedicated head of a nationally known search organization–the list of unexpected occurrences and quirky characters began on July 15, 2008 and has never let up.
From the moment Judge Perry stepped up to the bench to replace harried jurist Stan Strickland, the court has been committed to move the case forward without further delays. Many thought that it was an impossible goal. But Perry did it. He started the jury selection on May 7, just as he promised. When he said that the jury would be selected in one week, it seemed if anyone could make that happen, it was Perry.
So naturally, fate intervened in the form of a prospective juror with all the common sense of road-flattened armadillo. The person in question admitted to being ineligible to serve on the jury because of being on the list of possible witnesses and for service as a volunteer for Texas Equusearch, the organization that once led the search for Caylee’s remains. The person should have announced his presence to a deputy or someone with the court clerk’s office on arrival and been sent home right away.
Instead the potential juror avoided sharing the information with those in authority and instead engaged in a discussion of the case with forty-eight others in a group that waited to appear before Judge Perry for instruction. Perry had no choice. He dismissed the entire group of forty-nine, putting his goal of begin opening arguments on Tuesday, May 16, in jeopardy.
Another group will come in to replace them Wednesday morning. Common sense should have informed the disqualified group that they shouldn’t discuss the case while they wait. But it didn’t so the new group will be brought before Perry for instruction immediately to hopefully avoid a repeat of the incident.
The defense seemed dismayed by Perry’s threat to move jury selection back to Orlando in they failed to fill a jury in Clearwater. Attorney Cheney Mason objected more often today to the requests that jurors be dismissed because of hardship. He argued against the release of some potential jurors saying the experience would be an inconvenience not a hardship.
When Cheney objected to releasing a disabled man on a fixed income who could not afford care for his seven dogs, Judge Perry asked if the dogs could stay at Cheney Mason’s house for the duration of the trial.
Somewhere in Orlando, Stan Strickland must be counting his blessings and breathing a sigh of relief.