Open the Door and Let Them In

    Should George and Cindy Anthony be allowed to attend their daughter’s trial?
    Mark Lippman, George and Cindy’s attorney, filed a motion last week addressing that very question, to which his answer is “yes.” You see, Casey's parents are in the unique position of being both witnesses for the state and relatives of the victim, Caylee. And that dual relationship to the murder case against Casey presents a conundrum that may take the wisdom of Solomon to resolve.
     On the one hand, the Florida Constitution guarantees that relatives of the victim are entitled to the right to be informed and to be present at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings. In other words, George and Cindy have the right to attend the entire trial. On the other hand, the state or defense could request the Rule of Sequestration because George and Cindy are witnesses. Invoking this rule would keep them out of the courtroom until they testify, one by one. While odds are slim the defense would seek to enforce the rule, the state most likely will because the court already granted such a request at an earlier hearing. Prosecutors feared that there was a real possibility that one’s testimony could taint the other.
     Initially, I believed the Anthonys should be sequestered for this very reason. But I’ve since changed my mind, thanks to a recent conversation with renowned criminal defense attorney Mark NeJame.
     He cited the competing interests: Yes, George and Cindy lost their granddaughter, but the court has every right to sequester them. Yet, NeJame said he believes George and Cindy should be allowed to sit in on the entire trial. Somewhat perplexed, I asked him why.
     "Whatever transpires in the courtroom on any given day can be observed through the media, anyway, he said. In other words, George and Cindy can watch the proceedings on television or view live feeds on the Internet. "What purpose would it serve to restrict their presence?” he continued. “There is no greater prejudice by letting them in, so why exclude them?"
     Those were good questions, but what did he mean by no greater prejudice? He made me think. How could George and Cindy's presence possibly impact the trial? Could they prejudice the jury or themselves by being there together? I couldn't really come up with any viable reasons. Certainly, they'll be able to watch the trial on TV and the Internet, and there's nothing standing in the way of them talking about the case in the privacy of their home. I don't see how their attendance would provide them with the opportunity to change their testimony, not when a good part of what they'll say will be backed up by transcripts elicited from past hearings and depositions.
     What NeJame was telling me and what I was rationalizing in my head were beginning to gel. "You know," he added, "there's nothing that should hinder justice by allowing them in. It's more or less the public that seems to be vengeful."
     He didn't mean that in a condescending way, and I certainly understood where he was coming from since I've been following the case a long time. A lot of people feel no sympathy for George and Cindy, to put it mildly. "Many [people] don't want them in,” NeJame said, “but should the decision be based on that or on what’s right from a legal perspective?"
     I completely understood and respected his position. And it made sense.
     On Monday, as Judge Perry took Casey, her attorneys, and the prosecutors behind closed doors to attend to some "housecleaning" issues, I spoke to Lippman, who had been in the courtroom with Cindy. I asked him which way he thought Perry would rule on his motion. But Lippman said the decision on whether to allow the Anthonys to attend most likely would be up to Casey. It hinges on whether she wants to allow her parents in or not. He said this was one of the reasons why Perry was huddled with prosecutors and Casey and her defense team.
     "It's in her hands," Lippman said.
     Maybe, but I don’t see the state walking away quietly from this matter if Perry grants Lippman’s motion. The prosecution will have its reasons for keeping the Anthonys out, but I don’t anymore.
     George and Cindy should be allowed to attend the whole trial – and nothing less.




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Comments, page 1 of 9 1 2 3 4  ··· 9 Next »
May 3, 2011 11:12 pm
 Posted by  Mary Jo

Great article, Dave! It is well written and gives us something to really think about. I personally do not think that they should be allowed in the court room because they are witnesses and shouldn't hear what others are saying so they can change their story again. I know the prosecution will keep them honest since they have their depositions and will use them to refresh their memories. Another reason I don't think they should be allowed is because of all the facial expressions they make and the shaking and nodding of their heads when they don't like something they are hearing. Yes, they can go home and watch what was said, but they won't be in there making the facial expressions or the nodding and distracting the jury. As far as them being part of the victim's family, they only seem to use that when it benefits them. I don't think they are there for Caylee. They are there for Casey and Casey only.

May 3, 2011 11:23 pm
 Posted by  Dave Knechel

I think it's fine to have different opinions, especially on this issue. I don't think it should matter all that much, but for sure, the judge should issue an edict about attitudes in the courtroom. No sighing, snickering, huffing & puffing, and no rolling of the eyes. Anyone caught doing that should be shown the door, especially them.

Thank you, Mary Jo.

May 3, 2011 11:59 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

WESH-Channel 2’s Bob Kealing studied George and Cindy Anthony’s request to be in the courtroom and not be sequestered during the trial. Retired Judge O.H. Eaton Jr., the station’s legal analyst, said, “I don’t think they have any right to be there if the rule of sequestration is invoked.” Next of kin are allowed in the courtroom, but that doesn’t include extended family like grandparents, Eaton told Kealing. If the motion had been filed in his court, Eaton said, he would have denied it without a hearing.

May 4, 2011 12:09 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The Anthony's themselves may have secured their own sequestration. Cindy has already stood to address the court as I noted in a previous comment. She has exhibited vindictive, rebellious behavior by her gum-chewing and head-shaking. In a recent Frye hearing, Cindy called over a bailiff to complain about an advisor to the prosecution. She also gave testimony contradictory to a past deposition.

Her past behavior is indicative of her potential future behavior. Being a near-relative of the victim does not excuse disrupting the order of the court.

The Anthony's may well be unpopular, yet sympathetic as grandparents, but that is not the only consideration to hold when determining whether or not they should or should not be in the courtroom. Cindy Anthony has provided more than enough reason for the prosecution to vehemently protest their presence.

Mr. NeJame knows the Anthonys personally, and I'm sure that despite their rocky relationship, he doesn't want them to endure any further hardships. Those hardships will come regardless of what they wish. Difficult testimony will be presented and they have already shown that they will run out of the courtroom when it is.

It is not out of some ill-bred vengence that makes me want to see them sequestered, but rather that their past behavior shows the type of antics they can display to a jury.

Equality 7-2521

May 4, 2011 12:09 am
 Posted by  guardianangel

I believe Cindy and George are the next of kin to the accused and a relative of the victim? I will stand to be corrected.

Wonderful article by the way. I agree wholeheartedly with Mary Jo. George is worse than Cindy when it comes to displaying negative body language. If a witness is on the stand and Geo shakes his head 'no' 'no' and puts on his arrogant defiant look, he could very well intimidate a juror or two. He has done just that at one of the hearing. JMO

May 4, 2011 12:10 am
 Posted by  Waterfall

Dave, Your writing for Orlando Magazine on these ups and downs if this case is the greatest. issues is the greatest. This is exactly how jurors are going to have to evaluate the information from the attorneys and witnesses. They will take everything presented and do just like we are doing, They will hear, feel and interpret it all in their own minds alike and differently. We have an advantage, of not having to be responsible. Like us, they may think one way this minute another way the next minute. However, they can not allow emotions, wants, hate or anything else that will cloud their judgement. The facts? What are the facts in this case? "We" can call information fact. The jury will have to have the facts proven to make their decision while the result of there being a death penalty to always consider will add difficulty. They will have to follow the law, we don't have to do that in our thinking it out. I know what I am trying to say, unfortunately not saying it very well.

May 4, 2011 12:19 am
 Posted by  Amber

Hi Dave

Another good article!!! Before I read your points, I thought that Cindy and George probably should be sequestered but now I agree that they should be allowed to attend as long as they behave in accordance with the court's rules. I do not think that what the public wants is relevant.

May 4, 2011 03:35 am
 Posted by  Redrelaxed

If it's up to Casey whether or not her parents will attend the trial, my money is on her granting them a seasons pass.

Not because she's necessarily feeling the love but because it's in her best interest.

The grooming/consulting services of Mr. Gabriel will be put to the challenge by the entire Anthony clan. The A's will be encouraged to appear respectful of the court, united and dignified as any loving supportive family would be. A monumental task, eh?

As a juror it would be niggling at me why the parents were conspicously absent during their daughters murder trial.


May 4, 2011 06:00 am
 Posted by  Beast

So, the media has appealed the ruling and risks delaying the trial for their own self interests. Why don't a few Americans get together and file a class action suit against these "media" idiots? I'm sure a legal reason could be found for doing so, after all it is your tax dollars at work here. Wonder what a delay in the trial would cost, not to mention the right for the accused to have the trial in a "reasonable" time frame.

May 4, 2011 07:32 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Cindy and George Anthony have done everything humanly possible to disrupt and circumvent justice for their grand daughter...including making faces in court...mouthing words so that cameras and everyone else can see...shaking their heads and in general trying to testify from their seats while others are giving their testimony.

As you can bet the sun will rise in the can also bet they will do whatever they can to disrupt these proceedings! Keep them out!

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About This Blog

'Marinade Dave' Knechel

Dave Knechel has been blogging about the Casey Anthony case since late 2008, drawing readers from all over the world. Best known as “Marinade Dave,” a nickname he got when he made marinades and also blogged about marinade recipes, Knechel is on assignment to blog about the case exclusively for as Anthony goes to trial for first-degree murder. His posts will appear regularly on this site.

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