Advice to Prospective Jurors—Casey Anthony Trial

My advice: Do everything you can do legally, ethically, and morally to be excused from service on the Casey Anthony jury.

1) Fill out the questionnaire as briefly as possible.

By now I imagine jury questionnaires have been sent out to hundreds of prospective jurors in Orange County, Florida. The questionnaires are undoubtedly lengthy and invasive of personal privacy. You are entitled to answer questions either “Yes” or “No” and to give no explanation in writing. You should not provide detailed information about your personal finances, police record, experience in the court system (civil and criminal), or any information about family and friends. 

For example, a typical question is: “Have you or any of your family ever been involved in a civil or criminal trial? Yes or No. If so, explain briefly.” If the answer is “Yes” all you need to say is “In a civil case” or “In traffic court” or “In a criminal trial” or even simply “Several.” Let the lawyers figure out what that means.

The questionnaires are written by the attorneys involved in the case. It is their job to try to find out as much as possible about you, and they hope you will foolishly spill your guts on the questionnaire. The attorneys can even run background checks on you, credit checks, and send private investigators to obtain information on you at their expense. So, let them spend the money; don’t give away your privacy for free.

Keep in mind that these questionnaires can become public, and don’t write anything on them that you would rather not see on the Internet. Anything you write on the questionnaire can also be used to charge you with perjury at a later time or to charge you with juror misconduct.

2) Try to be excused from jury duty for a legitimate reason.

Have your employer say you are essential and can’t be given time off for jury duty; get a doctor’s excuse for a legitimate reason, including anxiety or stress. If you have tickets or a prepaid receipt for a vacation, bring them to court with you. The judge will excuse you.

3) Show up at court dressed inappropriately.

If you show up in court over-dressed in an expensive suit, you may be excused, or if you dress for the beach, you may be excused, or if you wear a uniform, you may be excused. Whatever you do, don’t dress for “casual Friday” at work; you will be selected.

4) If you are called into voir dire (questioning by the judge and attorneys), when asked if you have already decided the case say that you have “a definite opinion about Casey Anthony’s guilt or innocence.” You won’t be asked what it is.

In the Casey Anthony case, I can’t believe there’s a human being in Florida with a normal I.Q. that doesn’t suspect she’s guilty—if nothing else, guilty of gross child neglect that led to her daughter’s death. If the judge in the case is honest, even he has an opinion about her guilt or innocence.

Why shouldn’t you want to serve on Florida’s “trial of the decade”?

Your life will be irremediably changed if you sit on the Casey Anthony jury. You will lose all confidence in the justice system. You will be psychologically traumatized. Your family will be traumatized. Your privacy will be destroyed. If anything noteworthy happens in the jury room, you will be vilified in the press. If no verdict reached, it won’t be the jury that’s “hung”; you will be “hung out to dry.” If a verdict is reached, the losing side will find a way to drag you before a judge.

I know it’s tempting if you’ve never served on a jury to want to serve, especially on a high-profile trial jury. I’m a mystery writer, and I was thrilled to be picked for a criminal trial jury. But anyone who has served on a criminal trial will tell you one of two things about the experience: 1) I’m glad I did my duty, but I don’t ever want to serve on a jury again; or 2) it was a horrible experience.

If you think my advice is designed to ensure that only an incompetent jury will be seated, you are wrong. The Casey Anthony trial will be a circus, no matter what decent people in Orange County do. The Casey Anthony case long ago passed into the hands of the worst people in Orange County when crowds picketed the Anthony home and when the prosecutor decided to charge Casey Anthony with first-degree capital murder instead of child neglect, child abuse, and second-degree murder.

Technorati Tags: