Pinellas? You be the Judge
On Saturday's online edition of the St. Petersburg Times, it was announced that "Casey Anthony jury selection could be coming to Pinellas on Monday". I found out about it from one of the local journalists because my hunch that it would be from either Hillsborough or Pinellas was right on the mark. That's what I had been saying for months after carefully studying numerous counties. I never had a thought about Miami because of several things. The population of Miami-Dade County is roughly 2,500,000 people. Orange County is around 1,150,000. That's less than half. Also, the demographics aren't the same if we break down ethnicities and incomes into percentages, not to mention crime. Most importantly, all statistics aside, when Jose Baez made his preference known, it was a sure sign that the judge was going to go to any other county but that one. Baez might as well have said, "Any other county but Pinellas!" and, voila, we would have gotten us a jury location a lot quicker, not that the judge wasn't following a schedule or anything.
To prove my point of looking over counties with a fine tooth comb, let's take a look at a few. Some people wondered about Leon. Tallahassee is the state capital and county seat, but the population is just 275,000. Ft. Myers is in Lee County, population 620,000. Take a peek at Putnam, home of Haleigh Cummings. Population? 75,000. Every county I looked at didn't come nearly as close as Hillsborough or Pinellas, and the more I studied, I kept returning to those two. The population of Hillsborough is around 1,230,000. That's only 80,000 more. Pinellas is roughly 920,000. That's not too much of a difference considering the disparity between Orange and all other counties.
One thing about those two is that they are relatively conservative counties, but so is Orange. On the other hand, there are lots of independent voters and that's why the "I-4 (Interstate) Corridor" between Daytona and Tampa is such a coveted territory to presidential candidates. It can make or break an election, and it never had a "hanging chad" problem. If I were to pick a melting pot in the state; one that looks like a place to pick a jury of Casey's peers, the 1-4 Corridor would have my vote, but Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is located, is just under 500,000 people. Head west, my friend, and that's what I did.
When Judge Perry talked about the TV market, he was telling the truth. He said there "are no major television stations" to speak of. By that, he meant network affiliates in that county. WTOG, for example, is located in Pinellas, but it's branding is CW. Then, there's WCLF, but it's not affiliated with any network. The majors are in Tampa, and even if Hillsborough were chosen, the market is still Tampa. That's the same as Orange County. Do any of the local stations ply their wares from Orange County or are they advertised as Orlando stations? You see, it's all in the semantics. Cocoa Beach and Brevard County are in the Orlando market, but certainly, they are not part of Orlando. Neither is Seminole, where I live.
Does Pinellas have $50/night hotels? Gee, I'm afraid to ask, let alone find out, but I do know that Clearwater is a nice area. I've been there many times to visit family friends. Oh yes, they are retired. Lots of people over there are. That's one big difference between here and there. They may be more conservative, but I don't think it matters. I'd bet that most people don't follow the story in Pinellas like they do in Orange. I'll even go out on a limb and claim that more people where I live, statistic-wise, would be much more willing to sentence Casey to death. That means the people in St. Pete, Clearwater, and the rest of the county aren't nearly as educated about the case as we are here. In my opinion, Judge Perry made a wise decision.
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