While most mothers celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday, 25 year old Casey Anthony spent Mother’s Day preparing for her trial in the alleged killing of her daughter, 2 year old, Caylee. Juror selection began on Monday in a rare move to near the Tampa Bay area although the crime occurred in Orlando. The judge moved the jury selection process in the hopes of getting 12 unprejudiced and unbiased jurors and 8 alternate jurors, due to less media scrutiny there. But the trial will be heard in Orlando.
A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in our media frenzy world, it’s often the other way around. Casey Anthony faces the death penalty, if found guilty. A fair trial and unbiased jurors is what she deserves under the law.
But, the move to select jurors in another county is already resulting in another problem. It is difficult to find potential jurors who will be able to spend 6-8 weeks in Orlando to hear the trial. Many are expressing economic hardship in these stressing times. Many prospective jurors said they could not afford to serve because their employers would stop paying them. Jurors cannot be fired for serving on a jury. It is still a civic duty. Some small business owners said their businesses might fail. Single parents said they had no one to look after their children. Middle-aged children said they had no one to look after elderly parents. And the excuses went on and on. It’s not unheard of for jurors to express these concerns in a shorter trial. Many judges will not excuse juror for some economic reasons. But, moving jurors to a trial location many miles away will further exacerbate the juror’s situation. The jurors will remain in Orlando until the trial is completed which could take up to several months.
The jury selections are expected to continue this week. The judge is proceeding with caution in ruling on defense motions to prevent a reversal on appeal. Media frenzy is at its highest in this trial. Most persons are wondering, if proven, how a mother could kill her own daughter. Others are wondering why a mother would kill her young daughter. Motive is not a requirement for any criminal trial. That only occurs on TV. The answers, if her guilt is proven by a jury, may never be known.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, former prosecutor and legal and political commentator. She also contributes to the Huffington Post. She addresses issues on race and women. She holds a juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.