A Daughter's Scorn; A Family Torn
When we sit in the gallery of Judge Perry's court, we watch, we listen, and we learn. The only difference between what we feel in his courtroom and what you sense on TV or the Internet is the electricity of the moment, and how it changes from one side to the other; back and forth and sometimes in the middle or skirting along the fringe. Up and down they go as they battle back and forth. Sure, we all know by now that this defense has had its share of downs, and in most cases, they've been well deserved, but as we sit in the courtroom with our skewed opinions, Judge Perry looks out at each and every one of us. What does he think? What does he feel? What does he see?
To be a judge in a trial of this magnitude, it takes a person of great fortitude; someone with a heart of gold and steel. I often wonder what crosses his mind as he peers out at every individual in his court. For sure, he's seen the anguish in the faces of George and Cindy. He's sensed the cold indifference of their daughter, now distant; no longer the daughter they once had. Or thought they had.
What did we learn this fateful Friday, the sixth of May, 2011?
Judge Perry called an emergency hearing to address a defense Objection to New Venue and a motion filed by George and Cindy's attorney, Mark Lippman, the Motion for Relatives of Victim to be Excused from Rule of Sequestration. Casey filed an objection to that one, too. As it stands, the hearing that was scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM did, in fact, start on time, but the prosecution and defense, including Casey, went behind closed doors and didn't return until precisely one-half hour later. It had to be private because the county where the jury will come from was discussed. When they returned, Jose Baez withdrew his change of venue motion. The jury will be plucked from the location the judge had chosen.
This was a day when George accompanied his wife. He had a special interest. Were he and Cindy going to be allowed to sit in on the trial? Until the judge made clear his ruling, the blogs and forums were buzzing with opinions for and against and everywhere in between. There was talk of 'next of kin' and whether they deserved to attend or not. After all, some think they are just as guilty as their daughter of murdering precious Caylee. Right?
This case has dragged on for nearly three years and both parents have been villified in the press and all over the Internet. When their attorney got up to state his case, he did an excellent job. Twice, the judge and court stenographer had to slow him down, but he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He made sense. I think the most perplexing part in this was that we assumed Casey wouldn't object to having her parents there in the courtroom for support, if nothing else. Why would she?
In the objection Cheney Mason filed on May 5, he made it clear that there was a reason why he didn't want them present. Sure, he said that both George and Cindy "will be called as key witnesses in the upcoming trial," and that they "will also be subject to recall throughout the proceedings." Yes, he did, but when Mark Lippman stood and asked both parties about all of George and Cindy's depositions, they had to respond that, yes, their statements were memorialized in previous depositions. Is the defense expecting them to say something new?
Judge Perry asked the prosecution if they had an objection to allowing George and Cindy inside the courtroom during the trial. Jeff Ashton stood and said, no, but the state would have a problem with their sneering and snickering and sighing and shaking their heads. He suggested that they sit up in the balcony to keep them out of sight of the jury. The judge responded by saying they will follow the same rules as every other person in his court. In essence, if he or any of the deputies can hear a pin drop, expulsion is the order of the day. George and Cindy are just like everyone else. So are the attorneys, the judge reminded the court.
Now, we can take bets on how long they're going to remain in the courtroom, but that's a whole different discussion. What transpired today showed not just the judge's wisdom, but also his compassion. One of the interesting characteristics of Judge Perry is his subtleties. On numerous occasions, he's commented in such a manner that one understands which direction he's about to go. When Mark Lippman mentioned Florida Statutes and argued that George and Cindy are next of kin, the judge broke in and said there's nothing that says they're not next of kin. A simple statement that carried much weight.
When the judge asked the defense to counter, Cheney Mason took center court. As he wrote in his objection, he said, "this right must yield to the defendant's right to a fair trial," but how would their attendance impact that? The most disturbing thing to come out of the objection and what he uttered was that, "George and Cindy Anthony will likely be subject to impeachment by the testimony of other witnesses." That's a powerful statement and one that will be carefully examined in the near future. In the end, Judge Perry sided with George and Cindy. As he sits and stares, I often wonder if he keeps a close watch on all of the Anthonys. Can he rule with an iron fist and offer a calming hand?
After the hearing, we learned that Mark Lippman is a class act. He gave credit to Richard Hornsby for providing a crucial example of case law that backed his argument. No doubt, Richard is a class act, too. I'm not surprised. I wonder, though, if Judge Perry had already decided by the time he called his court to order. After all, it was the defense he cited. The argument was weak. Once again, they failed to bring a solid argument to the table. They didn't prove a thing.
We also learned something else. If anyone out there still believes that George and Cindy were in on this murder to any degree - stop throwing them under the bus. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. I'm glad they won.
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