Not since the historical 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Hernandez v. State of Texas has the American jury process been so interesting. The difference in that case and one we’re all watching unfold daily in Florida is that the Hernandez case had true merit; it changed forever the way Mexican Americans would be treated in the judicial system and put the Justices to the test. The 14th Amendment was at stake and a team of fearless Mexican American lawyers moved mountains to travel to the nation’s capital to ensure their client would be treated fairly.
The second case mentioned is, of course, the ongoing Casey Anthony jury selection. I’m beginning to believe some of the legal minds guiding this case are lacking something the lawyers (Gustavo C. Garcia, John Herrera, James DeAnda and Carlos Cadena) had no shortage of in the 1950s: ethics.
Even if there are those who see jury duty as a frustrating responsibility and an intrusion on their lives, there is a powerful patriotic sense of pride when we play a role in the judicial system. The same holds true for the hundreds of Florida voters who have been ordered to show up in a courtroom to possibly serve as a juror in the Casey Anthony murder case. This is where those nagging questions begin to surface.
The framers of the Constitution surely didn’t have in their minds the spectacle that’s unfolding. Jurors understand voir dire is just a part of the process. The goal, of course, is to find twelve jurors who can make a determination of guilt or innocence.
Earlier this week, Senator Orrin Hatch called the demands by Democrats to haul the big oil execs into hearings as nothing more than a “dog and pony” show. Not figured out how I feel about that, but I do think many are beginning to believe that’s exactly what’s going on in the Clearwater, Florida jury process.
The lawyers are really pushing the envelope. Jose Baez, who I decided long ago was the epitome of an idiot, had the audacity to tell the judge after questioning a potential juror who seemed to know an awful lot about the case, “We all packed up and came here to avoid this kind of knowledge”. It infuriates me since Baez was quite content with granting countless interviews to the media over the past two years. That kind of knowledge he says he’s trying to avoid is exactly what he sought to ensure would become public knowledge.
Earlier this week, and after spending eleven hours questioning jurors, many thought they’d have knocked it out and either included or disqualified the 37 potential jurors who were waiting. Turns out, they only got to five because they kept these folks on the stand for hours. It’s an insult to our judicial process. Period. Is it any wonder so many Americans have mixed emotions about their responsibility to serve on a jury when called? What should be known to these folks is:
There’s a good chance you’re going to be hounded by Nancy Grace and the rest of the national media after this case is over. Want your own life under the microscope? No? Then avoid this case at all costs.
There’s a good chance you will be able to profit, via a book deal, after this case. Wanna get rich for the wrong reasons? Then this is the case for you.
Wanna be hated by half the country? Serve on this case and let’s see the hatred the jury’s verdict will bring out in people.
Wanna lose months at work, miss your son’s ball games and your daughter’s homecoming pageant? Serve on this jury.
Wanna have teams of lawyers demand you defend your stance on everything from incest to the death penalty to the odors of death for hours with no guarantees that you’ll be included/sent home? This is the case for you.
I know it’s not as simple as this, but the questions these lawyers should be asking are basic:
Do you believe in our judicial system?
Are you a tax paying American?
Do you have relatives convicted of murders that could make you partial to one side or the other?
Have you ever been convicted of a crime (which is already known anyway since felons can’t serve on juries)?
That’s it. To me, it seems as though no one has faith in the system as a whole and the facts in this case. If they’re so worried about Casey Anthony’s alleged sexual abuse as a child, why haven’t they addressed it before now? They’re going to use it as a defense.
Keep on and this legal system that we all say is the best in the world (even in its imperfections) will become the best laughing stock in the world.