Due to widespread media coverage of Caylee Anthony’s disappearance and the actions of her mother, Casey Anthony, which received extensive coverage over a period of three years, selecting a jury for this trial was difficult. It was eventually determined that the jury must be selected from a different locality than the one where the alleged crime occurred. Jury selection took an inordinate amount of time.
As with any jury, the group was entering an arena with which they were largely unfamiliar. The procedures and terminology are alien and yet they hold great significance to the jury’s eventual determinations. The group is charged with making a decision that they know will impact the life of the defendant and their family. In this particular case there was a range of charges to consider and the additional burden of a potential death penalty. Public interest in the case was enormous.
Much care was taken by the court and the lawyers for the prosecution as well as the defense to explain the various elements of the charges and the court’s procedures. Presentation of the evidence went on for many weeks during which the jury was sequestered. There was an awful lot to take in and the process must have been exhausting. The jurors were away from their homes and families and shielded from all normal sources of information and communication. They were instructed not to discuss the case among themselves.
Many of the facts were undisputed. The opening statement from the defense was sensational and, although the jury was instructed that it was not to be considered as evidence, it eventually colored their impression of ensuing witnesses and therefore, may have factored into their ultimate decision. Jurors received a deluge of information much of which was related by various forensic experts and contained a great deal of scientific detail. The credentials of these witnesses were discussed at length and their testimony hotly disputed by opposing counsel. It may have been difficult at times to decide who to believe.
The jurors entering into this process apparently took their duties very seriously and with great awareness of the consequences for the defendant. The concept of reasonable doubt as it relates to a court case may have been misunderstood to a degree. Their verdict was unexpected and considered by many to be erroneous. The defense has pronounced it an appropriate decision by a group that took their duties seriously. But I wonder.