Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mark Eiglarsh weighs in on Casey Anthony case on Jane Velez Mitchell (videos, transcripts)

Mark Eiglarsh weighs in on Casey Anthony case on Jane Velez Mitchell (videos, transcripts)

On May 17, 2011, criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh appeared on HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell to discuss the case against accused Florida mother, Casey Anthony.  His appearance came before a sudden change in court proceedings caused Judge Perry to dismiss the jurors and cut the case short, Judge Perry didn’t offer an explanation as to why the recess but said court would resume on Thursday morning at 8:30 am.   Mark Eiglarsh said that he believes that Judge Perry made a huge mistake, and others are questioning whether today’s dramatic close to the hearing indicated that the defense is going to get the ball rolling to have Judge Perry removed from the case.  Others have speculated that Casey Anthony may have a plea deal in the works.

Mark Eiglarsh spoke about the possibility of starting the trial on Monday, May 23, 2011 and Judge Perry’s race to begin the trial on set deadline.  He  stated, “Yes, it`s not going to happen by Monday and he needs to slow down, Jane, because today I think he committed a major boo-boo, fundamental error, by denying the state an opportunity to strike one juror who claimed that she has difficulty sitting in judgment with someone -- huge mistake by the judge.

Now the prosecution is forced to have on that jury someone who may believe that she might be guilty but could express, well, I have difficulty now sitting in judgment. Who am I to say that she`s guilty? That to me shows how zealous he is in trying to get a jury at all costs.”
You may read the transcript pertaining to the Casey Anthony case from Tuesday, May 17, 2011 below.

JOSE BAEZ, ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: There is a reasonable doubt whether this juror can set his knowledge of pre-trial publicity aside.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, there`s a brewing battle over which potential jurors the prosecution and the defense can strike as a frustrated judge tries to wrap it up.

And astonishing revelations in the case of a father who was gunned down outside of his child`s day care center; shocking new details in the alleged affair between the accused killer and the dead man`s widow. Did she know anything about his alleged plot to murder her husband? We`ll take your calls.


CASEY ANTHONY, ACCUSED OF KILLING DAUGHTER: I as a mom, I know in my gut there`s the feeling of a parent. You know certain things about your child. You can feel that connection. And I still have that feeling, that presence. I know that she`s alive whether you have a bucket load of evidence downstairs that contradicts that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, drama in the Casey Anthony courtroom. The prosecution and defense battling over who to strike and who to keep; all the while the judge appears to be getting impatient and frustrated. Today`s crop of potential jurors were grilled about their private lives and how their personal beliefs could affect their verdict.

One woman came clean. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw pictures of Miss Anthony out partying, which to me did not look like a mother who was distraught over -- over not knowing where her daughter was. I heard her mother say it smelled like there had been a dead body in the car and then they tried to say that it was a pizza. I do believe she is guilty.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is Casey Anthony taking notes there? That woman didn`t make the cut by the way but it`s safe to say that she is one of thousands, if not millions who`ve seen these incriminating photos of Casey out partying during the month her daughter was quote, "missing".

Meantime the judge, is he rushing too fast? Judge Perry has said he might green light opening statements even if he doesn`t have eight alternates sworn. On a high-profile controversial case like this, hey you need a really deep bench. That could be a big mistake.

I`m taking your calls, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Jean Casarez, correspondent with "In Session", TruTV; Jean, you`re on the ground in Clearwater, Florida right outside of the courthouse. What is going on with this jury selection?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, Jane, it was a late day. I mean attorneys just left a little bit ago and we still don`t have a jury. We actually have 11 at this point; it`s seven women and five men -- all right, six women and five men. That adds up to 11. So they are going to bring in five back tomorrow. They are going to question them and it`s a long going.

Now the judge gave up the battle. He wanted to get this jury; he wanted to get those folks sworn in but it`s just not happening at this point because it was --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How many strikes does each side still have?

CASAREZ: It looks like the defense has one and the prosecution has three or four, a bit more, but then you have the alternates and they have strikes for the alternates.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a separate set of strikes for the alternates?

CASAREZ: Yes. They are getting additional strikes for the alternate; one strike for each alternate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want Mark and Susan Filan -- and Susan and I were there at the Michael Jackson molestation trial for months on end. So hi Susan; great to see you again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I`d like each of you to predict: when do you think we`re actually going to get to opening statements? Because I`m thinking it`s not going to happen before Monday? What do you think Susan?

Susan: Yes, I agree with you. It`s not going to happen until next week. The judge has to balance rushing this and getting this right. And he`s got to err on the side of getting this right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mark?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it`s not going to happen by Monday and he needs to slow down, Jane, because today I think he committed a major boo-boo, fundamental error, by denying the state an opportunity to strike one juror who claimed that she has difficulty sitting in judgment with someone -- huge mistake by the judge.

Now the prosecution is forced to have on that jury someone who may believe that she might be guilty but could express, well, I have difficulty now sitting in judgment. Who am I to say that she`s guilty? That to me shows how zealous he is in trying to get a jury at all costs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you bring me to my big issue. Is Judge Perry hell bent on speed? He`s actually said he`s willing to go with fewer than the eight alternates he was shooting for at the start, quote, "We will have what we will have," end quote.

I think it`s a big mistake, especially in a high-profile trial like this where the jury is sequestered possibly for a long time.

My God, think about the O.J. Simpson trial. Halfway through the eight-month long double-murder trial, they`d already burned through eight jurors due to drama and scandal -- halfway through. The jury pool was already reduced from 24 to 16. Not good.

Now, Susan, shouldn`t that be a historical lesson for this judge considering the drama we have already seen and the potential for a lot more?

FILAN: I don`t think this judge is taking his lessons from watching trials on television. I think he`s watching what is going on in his courtroom very, very closely and very, very carefully. And what he is telling the lawyers is you cannot use jury selection to pre-try your case and you can`t ask every single juror every single question that you`d like to ask of every single witness at trial and then say, if you heard my jury questions, would you convict her and if you would and you`re the prosecutor, you`re off, and if you would and you`re the prosecution, then you wouldn`t.

In other words, you can`t pre-select your jury to get the outcome that you`re looking for.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Susan, let me ask you this question. This woman says I don`t think I can judge anybody. I`m just not judgmental. And the state wants to get rid of her, of course. And he says no. I don`t think that`s right.

FILAN: He`s saying I won`t let you exercise a cause challenge. What she didn`t say was I think she`s guilty, I`m sure she`s innocent. She didn`t say she`s pre-decided this case. She says she has trouble sitting in judgment of somebody; not that she absolutely can`t or that she couldn`t be fair.

Now those are the things that you have to get rid of before the other one`s a discretionary. The exercise is discretionary. Don`t forget, you know, he`s sitting there. He`s feeling it. He`s hearing it. He`s sifting through. We`re hearing snippets after the fact, so it`s very hard to second guess, or Monday-morning quarterback, a judge`s discretionary call and that`s not something that a trial court usually gets reversed for on appeal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Pam, California, your question or thought, Ma`am? Pam.

PAM, CALIFORNIA, (via telephone): Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, how are you doing?

PAM: I`m doing fine. My question is, if she was saying that her father and brother molested her, and if this is true, why did she leave her child with them so much?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jean Casarez, this caller raises an excellent point. We`ve been hearing so much about this new bombshell the defense is essentially admitting, at least according to a former defense attorney that the Zanny the nanny took the baby is a lie. They`re going to come out with this dramatic new defense explanation in the first couple of minutes of opening statement. And there`s been a lot of speculation they are going to point the finger at the family in some way, shape, or form.

What do you know? What is the latest on that?

CASAREZ: Well, I don`t think we know but it`s going to come out in opening statements. Defense attorney Cheney Mason (ph) said to me on tape that people are going to find out things they have not heard before. But I think the state is going to pre-empt that or they`re going to try to say things just like, you babysat Caylee Anthony and they will go through it to show that Casey did let her daughter be with her father a lot.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. And if she was so traumatized by her parents then why would she leave the child with them?

One of the most emotional moments of the courtroom today was when a female juror in her 30s nearly broke down. Listen carefully.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because honestly, I`ve been praying for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve been praying for who, ma`am?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say you`ve been praying, can you share with us, what those prayers are for? What are you praying for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mercy for her. I just wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t want to be a part of it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That woman was excused, but look at Casey Anthony`s expression. Oh, my gosh. Mark Eiglarsh, what the heck is note-taking about? Every time you see her, she`s taking notes. Is she just doodling or doing smiley faces?

EIGLARSH: No, she`s doing exactly what I tell my clients to do in every trial. Take a pen, write stuff down. I don`t care if you`re writing to your diary. Look like you are into the case.

That`s not suggesting that she`s not and this is manufactured. But think about it. They are looking over; they are judging her at every single moment. You can`t lose if you`re taking notes. If you`re looking down, it looks like you`re into the trial, you care about your outcome and you are determined to see this through and find yourself -- somehow get a jury to find you not guilty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The only time we say Casey actually cry is when the judge read the charges against her last week. Now as far as we can tell, she`s not really acting panicky or concerned when jurors ask about the death penalty. If Casey is convicted and sentenced to death, she would not be the first or only woman, that`s for sure.

Remember Aileen Wuornos -- they did a movie about her. She was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of six men in Florida between 1989 and 1990 and she died by lethal injection in October 2002.

So, Susan Filan, do jurors take gender into account even subconsciously given that this is a death penalty case?

FILAN: I think to some extent they do. But when you look at a mother accused of killing her baby, they are going to be even harder on her than they might be on a man. So in one way gender might work against her if she`s just a little lady sitting on death row but it`s going to cut against her very hard if she`s a mother that killed her own child.


Jean Casarez, we saw that Casey had this thing with her hand the other day where her hand suddenly froze up and she was escorted out. Some people wondered: is she acting; did that mysteriously disappear or is she still showing signs of some kind of mysterious injury?

CASAREZ: No. She`s more relaxed but it was what I have been told a stress attack.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s certainly understandable. I mean imagine sitting there and hearing people talk about the fact that they think you`re guilty and talk about, are you willing to do the death penalty? I mean it really is what you would call a reality check for a young lady who has lived in fantasy for so much of her life.

Thank you fantastic panel; come back soon. We`re going to stay all over this. And Nancy Grace will, of course have all the latest developments in the Casey Anthony trial on HLN tonight right at the top of the hour.

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